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Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf


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August Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739–1799) was an Austrian composer and violinist.

He was born on 2nd November 1739 in Vienna as Carl Ditters. His father was a military tailor, serving in Austrian Imperial Army of Karl VI, in a number of German-speaking regiments. Having retired successfully from his martial obligations, he was provided with Royal Letters of Reference and a sinecure with the Imperial Theatre. In 1745, the six-year-old August Carl was introduced to the violin and his father’s moderate financial position allowed him to take violin lessons. By 1750, August Carl had obtained a post with the Viennese Schottenkircheorchestra.

Prince Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen noticed him and hired him for his court orchestra. At the princely demesne he studied violin with Francesco Trani and composition with Giuseppe Bonno; and it was during this period that he became acquainted with Gluck and Joseph Haydn. In 1761 he was made violinist for the Imperial Theatre, and in 1763 he traveled to Bologna with Gluck. It was this “Italian Tour” that left the greatest impression on his musical opus, as his early compositions are Gluckian in structure but do not exhibit the profound courtly style then popular in Germany and Austria. Ditters’ early work was a prefiguration of his serious output that was to come in later years - an almost Italianate style focused on melodic development without the overt flourishes characteristic of le style français.

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