Anton Fils (1733-1760) - Sinfonia ex E moli (c.1757)
Performers: Vienna Radio Orchestra; Gabor Otvos (conductor)
Further info: Johann Anton Fils (1733-1760) - Missa Solemnis in C
German composer and cellist. Long thought to be of Bohemian origin, despite Marpurg's designation of him in 1756 as ‘from Bavaria’, he was found in the 1960s to have been born in Eichstätt, where his father, Johann Georg Fils, was a cellist at the prince-bishop's court from 1732 until his death in 1749. At both Eichstätt and later at Mannheim the surname is consistently spelt ‘Fils’, though ‘Filtz’ predominates in prints of his music. His principal teacher was his father. He attended the local Gymnasium in Eichstätt and in November 1753 appeared on the rolls of the University of Ingolstadt as a student of law and theology. On 15 May 1754 Fils was appointed cellist to the electoral court at Mannheim at a salary of 300 gulden, retroactive to 1 February of that year. There he may have studied composition with Johann Stamitz; he is described as a ‘dissepolo’ of the older composer on the title page of his trio sonatas op.3 (1760). In February 1757 Fils married Elisabeth Range. The couple had at least one child, a daughter born in October 1757, and they bought a house in October 1759, by which time Fils's salary had risen to 450 gulden. His early death in 1760 at the age of 26 led not only to comparisons with Pergolesi but also to conflicting accounts of his death, the strangest being C.F.D. Schubart's statement that he died ‘as a result of his bizarre notion of eating spiders’. Fils was extraordinarily prolific, leaving substantial bodies of orchestral, chamber, and sacred music. He is best known for his symphonies, which number at least 34. His first publication, the symphonies a 4 op.1, appeared in Paris in late 1759 or early 1760, and was soon followed by the symphonies opp.2 and 5 and an extended series published individually and in anthologies. Fils also composed some 30 concertos, primarily for cello and flute, of which only about half have survived. His chamber music, most of it published in Paris, spans a variety of genres, often featuring obbligato cello.