Although the date of composition of this highly dramatic work is not known, the style and provenance makes it likely that it was written during his earliest student years in Mannheim 1768-1772. The sole extant authentic score was copied in Vienna for Kraus biographer Fredrik Silverstolpe from the autograph lent to him by the composer's sister, Marianne Lmmerhirt, in 1802.
The performance history of the Sinfonia buffa is also unclear, although it may be suggested that it was performed during a "Musik-Spiel" often given in Mannheim during the Carnival season.
The original title of the work, "Sinfonia buffa," presents an insight into this rather peculiar three-movement Italianate work. It is clear from the content that Kraus intended it to be dramatically conceived, perhaps even as an accompaniment to some sort of pantomime. The sudden harmonic turn in the exposition section to the relative minor, the quick succession of non-related themes, and the sudden and unprepared cadential structures that vanish into silence without resolution are all indicative of some sort of stage action. Of particular interest is the second movement. The primary theme, which never returns, seems to be a monothematic parody of a Gregorian chant, twisted without warning into the tonic key of the symphony. The same hint of plainsong also appears in the final movement.
In view of the fact that the source upon which this edition is based was copied directly from the composer's autograph we can be reasonably certain of his intentions even where minor omissions occur in the text. The style and notation of articulation and dynamic markings have been standardised throughout and, where missing from the source, markings have been reconstructed from parallel passages. These are indicated by the use of dotted slurs or brackets where appropriate. Like most eighteenth century sources, the present manuscript is at times inconsistent in its notation of appoggiature; these too have been standardised to minimise confusion. Obvious wrong notes have been corrected without comment; editorial emendations with no authority from the source are placed within brackets.
Bertil van Boer