By far the largest body of repertoire for the classical woodwind player, and in particular for

clarinet, falls under the category of Harmoniemusik, or music for winds. By the 1780s, over 400

wind players were employed in Vienna alone, most of whom worked in wind ensembles1. In

fact, any piece of music for any number of paired winds, dating from the eighteenth and

nineteenth centuries, can be defined as Harmoniemusik.


Wind ensembles were so popular that many wealthy households had their own Harmonie. In

Vienna, the emperor Joseph II established his Kaiserlich Königliche Harmonie comprising of

pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns in 1782. Prior to this, wind ensembles with

clarinets had already existed throughout the region.


In 1777 Mozart wrote to his father about a wind ensemble in Munich comprising of two

clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons, remarking that “they played not at all badly together;

one knows immediately that Fiala trained them”; a reference to Joseph Fiala, a well-known

Bohemian Harmoniemusik specialist. It is perhaps not surprising that Mozart’s first wind sextet

with clarinets K375 in E-flat Major (1781), is for the same ensemble. By 1782, he composed the

Serenade K388 in C minor, adding oboes to the sextet formation, and also rearranged the

original sextet, K375, to suite the instrumentation of the emperor’s new octet2. Cartellieri was

around the age of twenty when he wrote his three Divertimenti for two oboes, two clarinets, two

horns, two bassoons and a contrabassoon (or double bass) and other music for winds mentioned

in the list of his son Joseph Cartellieri (appendix A). It is unfortunate that some of this music,

such as the sextet and the Fuga for Harmonie, are lost. The copies of the manuscript of these

three nonets are collected on the shelves of the Musiksammlung der Österreichischen

Nationalbibliothek (Mus.Hs.3615). Moreover, the Divertimenti are also present in modern

editions by Accolade Musikverlag with arrangements by Hanno Fendt. The three nonets where

surely performed in the Viennese court of Prince Franz Joseph Maximillian Lobkowitz, so we

can assume that they were also played by the instrumentalists of the famous Kaiserlich

Königliche Harmonie.


The true heart of the repertoire for Harmonie lies outside of these original works in the hundreds

of arrangements of operas, oratorios, and symphonies. A primary function of such ensembles

was to provide background music, just as today’s radio ensemble, ranging in size from a full

octet to a trio of basset horns or even a pair of clarinets, which was essential for daily

entertainment and for social events such as banquets. Virtually every new opera was transcribed

for wind ensemble, and often more than once. Numerous musicians and composers turned their

attention towards creating arrangements for wind ensembles. A clear example is Joseph

Cartellieri (1803-1860), the first son of Antonio Casimir, who would occupy the summit of the

new princely orchestra at the Loreto Chapel in Prague (1826-1860), under Ferdinand

Lobkowitz, after the death of his father Antonio. On the list of works preserved in the

Lobkowitz library, there are many arrangements for wind octet from operas by V. Bellini, G.

Donizetti, C. Gounod, F. Halevy, G. Mayerbeer, J. Offenbach, C. Petrella, G. Verdi, R. Wagner.


This genre of classical music arranged for wind ensembles was commonly used at the time to

encourage the accessibility of popular works. It was with great pleasure that I was part of

recreating these works for this uncommonly used instrumentation today as a project about the

Antonio Casimir Cartellieri's Divertimenti for Harmoniemusik. Together with my colleagues of

the early music department of the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag and coaches,

Francesco Spendolini and Hugo Arteaga, we worked on the Divertimento No.2 in F Major by

Antonio Casimir Cartellieri during January of 2020. The project consisted of a week of

rehearsals with coaches plus a seminar about the Harmoniemusik. The goals of the project

were to bring the forgotten works by Cartellieri to light and to prepare a concert for

Harmoniemusik planned in the Nieuwe Kerk (Den Haag) on the 26th of January 2020 for

OmroepWest. The program consisted of Mozart’s first wind sextet in E-flat major K375

arranged for sextet and the Divertimento No. 2 in F Major by Antonio Casimir Cartellieri.

This last piece was written when the composer was in his 20’s. This piece can seem very

pleasant and easy to play upon first glance. However, with more accurate attention to the

inner harmony and with suggestions given by our coaches, we discovered that this music is

full of text and requires a lot of interpretation within the language of the period. After this

musical exploration, we found that the Divertimento (Italian word defined as "to amuse")

became rather charming and funny, perhaps reflecting the young age of the composer. For

example, the fourth movement of the Divertimento No.2, "Alla Cosacca", is riddled with

joking dialogue between the horns and bassoons. These passages are technically challenging

for the players but actually sound comical to the audience. At the same time, the first oboe

and clarinet are required to use virtuosic skills to play their variations.

Antonio Casimir Cartellieri - Divertimento No 2 in F Major, mov. IV, Alla Cosacca. 

        Live Recording, with period instrument, for RadioWest, 26 January 2020.

     Antonio Casimir Cartellieri,
Divertimenti for Harmoniemusik