Franciszek Lessel, composer and pianist; born ca. 1780 in Warsaw, died 26 December 1838 in Piotrków Trybunalski.

Having taken his first lessons of music with his father, Wincenty Ferdynand Lessel, composer, pianist and pedagogue of Czech descent, Lessel left for Vienna in late 1799 to study composition under Joseph Haydn, and remained a student of Haydn's until Haydn's death in 1809.

It was before leaving for Vienna that Lessel started giving concerts, first in a chamber string ensemble in Lvov (with, among others, Karol Kurpiński and Karol Lipiński at Count's Łączyński), then also as a pianist. While a student in Vienna, he would come to Poland a number of times, working as a court musician at the Lubomirskis in Lancut. Upon his return to Poland in 1809, he started giving piano concerts of his own works, appearing, among other places, in Cracow and at the Warsaw National Theatre. He also played on the glass harmonica, an instrument which was hugely popular at the time, gave music lessons and, for a while, was director of the Warsaw Amateur Music Society.

For the rest of his life he did jobs which were not related to music; he did not give up composing, however. In 1812 he became an estate administrator in Gzików near Kalisz, from 1823 was the plenipotentiary of Maria Wirtemberska's property in Pilica, and in the 1830s managed the Poplawskis' estate in Pecice. In 1836 he took the position of administrator at the Marymont Institute of Farming, and the following year was appointed inspector of the regional Gymnasium in Piotrków Trybunalski, a tenure he was to hold until his death.

Major compositions

Orchestral works:
  • Overture in C major op. 10
  • Symphony in B minor
  • Symphony in E flat major
  • Symphony in B flat major
  • Symphony in D major
  • Symphony in G minor (1805)
Works for solo instrument accompanied by orchestra:
  • Adagio et rondeau à la polonaise op. 9 for piano and orchestra (1807)
  • Caprice et variations op. 10 for piano and orchestra
  • Potpourri op. 12 for piano and orchestra
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra in C major op. 14
  • Concerto for horn and orchestra in E major
  • Concerto for horn and orchestra in E flat major
  • Concerto for 2 flutes and orchestra
  • March for flute and orchestra
  • Variations for flute and orchestra
  • Variations for horn and orchestra
  • Capriccio in D major for clarinet and orchestra
Chamber works:
  • Three concert duos op. 1 for 2 flutes
  • Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello op. 3
  • Grand Trio in E flat major op. 4 for piano, clarinet and horn (1804)
  • Trio for piano, violin and cello in E major op. 5
  • Duo pour deux flûtes et Variations sur un thème de l'opéra Faniska de Cherubini op. 7
  • Fantaisie caractéristique op. 31 for piano, violin, viola and cello (1822)
  • Two sextets for 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons
  • Three partitas for 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons
  • Piano quartet in E flat major
  • Piano quintet in F minor
  • String quartet no. 1 in A major
  • String quartet no. 6 in D major
  • String quartet no. 8 in B major (1824)
  • Fantasia for string quartet
  • Trio for 2 clarinets and bassoon
  • Duet for 2 clarinets
  • Variations for piano for 4 hands and violin
Piano works:
  • Three piano sonatas op. 2
  • Fantasia in C major op. 8
  • Adagio and fugue in D minor op. 11, for 4 hands
  • Fantasia in E minor op. 13
  • Variations op. 15 no. 1
  • Variations op. 15 no. 2
  • New polonaise in D major
Vocal and instrumental works:
  • Mass in C major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir and orchestra
  • Mass in B flat major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir, orchestra and organ (1813)
  • Funeral mass in G major for 4 solo voices, mixed choir, orchestra and organ
  • Ave Regina, offertory for 3 voices and orchestra
  • Graduale Benedictus et venerabilis for voices and orchestra
  • Three motets for voice, 2 violins, bass and organ
  • Tantum ergo for 4 voices and orchestra
Songs for voice and piano to the words by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz:
  • Piast
  • Bolesław Śmiały
  • Władysław Jagiełło
  • Zawisza Czarny
  • Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk
  • Jan Tarnowski
  • Stefan Batory
  • Jan Kazimierz
  • Jan III Sobieski
  • The Funeral of Prince Józef Poniatowski
Ballets:
  • La Dancomanie
  • Les marchands de Modes

Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Center, October 2006.