Leopold Hofmann
1738 - 1793
L. Hofmann
Leopold Hoffmann - also Hofmann (14/08/1738 - 17/03/1793), an Austrian composer, born in Vienna. He was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the most gifted and influential composers of his generation. Although a church musician by profession, Hofmann was also an important and prolific composer of instrumental music. His symphonies, concertos and chamber works were played all over Europe and the avidity with which they were collected is attested to by the large number of manuscript copies which have survived the ravages of time and fashion.
The son of a senior and highly-educated civil servant, Hofmann revealed his musical abilities early on and at the age of seven joined the chapel of the Empress Dowager Elisabeth Christine as a chorister. As a member of the chapel he received an extensive musical education studying keyboard - and later composition - with Georg Christoph Wagenseil, one of the brightest starts in the Viennese musical firmament, and violin, possibly with Giuseppe Trani, Dittersdorf's teacher.
L. Hoffmann was chapel master at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, in 1772, where W.A. Mozart became his assistant in 1791.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
Requiem in E flat major (2x)
Musical form:masses
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Hofmann wrote two requiems in E flat major and one in C minor.
Source:Dagny Wegner, Requiemvertonungen in Frankreich zwischen 1670 und 1850, Hamburg, 2005
Requiem in C minor
Composed in:1785c
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Requiem in C minor for mixed choir, organ en orchestra.
Source:Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek
Hofmann’s single-surviving setting of the Requiem is difficult to date and it raises some interesting issues in relation to his creative output. The earliest known performance date (1791) is preserved on a copy of the work formerly belonging to the Hofkapelle. It is an odd coincidence that the work was performed in the same year that Mozart was appointed Hofmann’s assistant and began work on his own Requiem and it is by no means impossible that Mozart did hear the work performed or rehearsed that year. Other Viennese copies, however, appear to indicate an earlier composition date possibly even as far back as the early 1770s which is altogether more convincing knowing what we do of Hofmann’s career.
The Requiem is very different in style to Hofmann’s mass settings. The work is introspective in tone and above all it is vocally rather than instrumentally conceived. The orchestration is restrained and the only extended solo sections are written appropriately enough for the trombones. The extensive use of slow tempi and the avoidance of cheap theatricality in the Dies irae give the work a sense of gravitas. All of these techniques are perfectly appropriate to the function of the music but the possibility arises nonetheless that Hofmann was consciously attempting to write an ‘enlightened Requiem’, a setting which in some ways would conform to the rational spirit of the age. If that is the case then the work might have been composed after 1783, the year of the promulgation of Joseph II’s reforms concerning church music, and thus can be considered a rare example of Josephine church music.