Frantisek Ignác Antonín Tuma

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Frantisek Ignác Antonín Tuma was an important, if minor Czech composer from the late-Baroque and early Classical periods. He is best known for his sacred works, which are generally conservative in character…
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Frantisek Ignác Antonín Tuma was an important, if minor Czech composer from the late-Baroque and early Classical periods. He is best known for his sacred works, which are generally conservative in character and conceived mainly in a late-Baroque style that divulges the influences of his teacher, Johann Joseph Fux, and Italian master Antonio Caldara.

Tuma was born on Octobert 2, 1704, in the Bohemian village of Kostelec nad Orlicí, near Hradec Králové. His father was an organist and cantor and the young Frantisek's first teacher. Details of Tuma's further musical education are unclear, but he seems to have studied at Prague Jesuit Seminary and later with Bohuslav Matej Cernohorský.

Probably before his twentieth birthday Tuma was in Vienna, serving, according to musicologist and composer Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, in the capacity of a vice kapellmeister. His earliest works probably date to the 1720s, since he secured an appointment before 1731 as composer and kapellmeister under the High Chancellor of Bohemia, Count Franz Kinsky. By this time, too, Tuma was married and a father.

It was through Kinsky's connections that the young composer began studies with Fux. Tuma wrote a large number of his instrumental works and many of 65 masses while in Kinsky's service, greatly impressing the Count, who made a sincere but tardy effort to secure the kappellmeister post at the Prague Cathedral for Tuma. It was Tuma's fate, however, to remain in the Count's employ, probably until Kinsky's death in 1741.

That same year Tuma was appointed kapellmeister to the widow of Charles VI of Austria, dowager empress Elizabeth Christine. Fux had taught Charles VI in the emperor's youth and probably had recommended his former pupil. Tuma served Elizabeth Christine until her death in 1750. He returned to Vienna, where he would compose and perform in concerts as a bass violist for about the next 18 years. In 1768, he left his wife to join the religious order of Prémontrés at Geras, Lower Austria. In ill health, he returned to Vienna in 1774 and died in a convent in Leopoldstadt.