Johann Joseph Fux produced works in all leading genres of his time: sacred music for the liturgy (ordinary and proper of the mass, requiem, office) as well as oratorios and instrumental music used in the liturgical context. For secular occasions, he wrote operas and instrumental music. He also wrote books on music theory: the influential theoretical work Gradus ad Parnassum and the Singfundament. His earliest surviving compositions date to the 1690s, and the latest dated work is from 1732 (Vespers K 68). Suffering from gout, Fux probably stopped composing after this time.
Most of the surviving compositions are church music – a significant amount of his secular music, especially instrumental works, are assumed to be lost. Some of Fux’s works are known only by their citations in music inventories.
Johann Joseph Fux, autograph manuscript of Missa brevis solennnitatis K 5, Kyrie
© by courtesy of Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Musiksammlung, Mus.Hs.19193 Mus
During his lifetime, only three works appeared in print: The Concentus musico-instrumentalis (Nuremberg 1701), the opera Elisa (Amsterdam 1719) and the Latin treatise Gradus ad Parnassum (Vienna 1725), later published in German, Italian, English and French translations.
Most of his compositions are handed down in contemporary copies, with many preserved as performance material and parts. Only 15 autographs by Fux are currently known: K 5, K 10, K 34, K 34a, K 47 (partly autograph), K 54, K 127, K 142, K 187, K 221, K 265, K 289, E 37, E 68, E 113. K 290 is written by Fux, but the composition is probably by Johann Georg Reinhardt.
In 1835 the Viennese autograph collector Aloys Fuchs made the first attempt at a systematic catalogue of Fux’s works, his Thematische[n] = Catalog über säm[m]tliche Compositionen von Joh. Jos. Fux (D-B cat. ms. 566). Ludwig Ritter von Köchel, the music historian and Mozart researcher, published his standard work Johann Josef Fux. Hofkompositor und Hofkapellmeister der Kaiser Leopold I, Joseph I, und Karl VI, von 1698 bis 1740 in 1872, and it is still in use today. Various additions by Andreas Liess, Hellmut Federhofer, Friedrich Wilhelm Riedel and Thomas Hochradner have brought important additions to the sources and corrected the inventory of works, discovering scores and uncovering false attributions.
The new Thematische Verzeichnis der Werke von Johann Joseph Fux (vol. I: Dramatic Works, Instrumental Works, Vienna 2016; vol. II: Church Music Vocal Works, Secular Vocal Works, Appendices, in preparation), compiled by Thomas Hochradner, will replace the previous catalogues and offer a uniform, systematic numbering of all known and preserved Fux works.
Not all of the compositions handed down under “Fux” or “Fuchs” are actually by Johann Joseph Fux. While some have now been assigned to other composers, there are many works of dubious authenticity, for which the authorship remains unclear. The works that Ludwig Ritter von Köchel erroneously attributed to Fux are notable because of the considerable amount of older a cappella church music: Köchel mixed up Fux with Johann Stadlmayr and even Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Special confusions arose from Vinzenz Fux, who also worked as a composer (approx. 1609–1648). Due to the strong standardization of style at the Viennese court and the usual adaptation practice to the particular performance contexts, it is difficult to resolve works of dubious authenticity by means of critical investigations of style.
Important sources are to be found especially in the environment of the Viennese court chapel. These are kept in the music collection of the Austrian National Library and in the archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Within the former Habsburg Empire, the sources are widely distributed; there are also numerous copies in the archives of churches and monasteries. Other important sources are preserved in Berlin, Meiningen, Budapest, Prague and Brno. A few individual manuscripts have found their way into collections in Paris, London and New York.
Fux’s compositions were performed mostly during his lifetime. With the death of his longtime employer Charles VI in 1740, only four months before Fux’s passing, a change in style took place at the Viennese court. However, certain works by Fux such as the Missa Sti. Joannis K 34 remained in the repertoire. Historicism led to a renaissance of Fux performances in the 19th century, preferring his a cappella works – the Missa Canonica (K 7), with its intricate canon constructions, aroused particular interest. Into the 20th century, these compositions in particular were known, having been originally written for Lent or for self-positioning in the contrapuntal tradition. But they make up only a small part of Fux’s oeuvre.
Thomas Hochradner, art. Fux, Johann Joseph, in: MGG2, Personenteil vol. 7, Kassel etc.: Bärenreiter 2002, Sp. 303–319.
Harry White, Thomas Hochradner (work catalogue) art. Fux, Johann Joseph, in: NGroveD vol. 7, London: Macmillan 2001, p. 365–375.
Rudolf Flotzinger, Vinzenz Fux. Ein erster Bericht (Jahresgabe der Johann-Joseph-Fux-Gesellschaft 12), Graz 1983.
Thomas Hochradner, "Donata al calcante". Neue Quellenfunde sowie Nachrichten über verschollene Bestände zu Werken von J. J. Fux, in: Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 44, Tutzing: Hans Schneider 1995, p. 47–82.
Thomas Hochradner, Quellenforschung in Ost- und Westeuropa: Das neue Werkverzeichnis für Johann Joseph Fux, in: Helmut Loos (ed.), Musikgeschichte zwischen Ost- und Westeuropa. Symphonik – Musiksammlungen. Tagungsbericht Chemnitz 1995 (Deutsche Musik im Osten 10), St. Augustin: Academia 1997, S. 543–557. – Reprint as Jahresgabe 20/1997 der Johann-Joseph-Fux-Gesellschaft.
Thomas Hochradner, Zur Überlieferung, in: Rudolf Flotzinger (ed.), Johann Joseph Fux. Leben – musikalische Wirkung – Dokumentation, Graz: Leykam 2015, S. 134–139.
Thomas Hochradner, Thematisches Verzeichnis der Werke von Johann Joseph Fux (? 1660–1741) (FuxWV). Völlig überarbeitete Neufassung des Verzeichnisses von Ludwig Ritter von Köchel (1872), 1. Band: Wien: Hollitzer 2016.