Franz Xaver Richter

Full Name: Franz Xaver Richter
Date of Birth: December 01, 1709
Date of Death: September 12, 1789
Discipline/Occupation(s): Singer, Violinist, Composer, Conductor and Music Theoretician
Nationality: Austro-Moravian (modern day Austrian + Czech  )
Period/Era/Style: Early Galante/Transition from Baroque to Classical
Contribution(s)/Notable Works(s): Richter wrote chiefly symphonies, concertos for woodwinds, trumpet, chamber and church music, his masses receiving special praise. He was a man of a transitional period, and his symphonies in a way constitute one of the missing links between the generation of Bach and Handel and the Viennese classic. Although sometimes contrapuntal in a learned way, Richter’s orchestral works nevertheless exhibit considerable drive and verve. Until a few years ago Richter “survived” with recordings of his trumpet concerto in D major but recently a number of chamber orchestras and ensembles have taken many of his pieces, particularly symphonies and concertos, in their repertoire.

Biography: F.X. Richter was a central figure in the so-called Mannheim School of the early classical period, but little is known about him until the 1740s. From 1722 to 1727, he studied at the Jesuit seminary at Ungarisch Hradisch; immediately after that, until 1736, he spent some time in Italy and possibly in Vienna, where he may have studied with Fux. Richter spent most of his life first in Austria and later in Mannheim and in Strasbourg, where he was music director of the cathedral. From 1783 on Haydn’s favourite pupil Ignaz Pleyel was his deputy at the cathedral.

The most traditional of the first generation composers of the so-called Mannheim school, he was highly regarded in his day as a contrapuntist. As a composer he was equally at home in the concerto and the strict church style. Mozart heard a mass by Richter on his journey back from Paris to Salzburg in 1778 and called it charmingly written. Richter, as a contemporary engraving clearly shows, must have been one of the first conductors to actually have conducted with a music sheet roll in his hand.


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Summery: Franz Xaver Richter (12/01/1709 – 09/02/1789) – Singer, Violinist, Composer, Conductor and Music Theoretician
Austro-Moravian (modern day Austrian + Czech ; Early Galante/Transition from Baroque era to Classical era

Richter wrote chiefly symphonies, concertos for woodwinds, trumpet, chamber and church music, his masses receiving special praise. He was a man of a transitional period, and his symphonies in a way constitute one of the missing links between the generation of Bach and Handel and the Viennese classic.

#FranzXaverRichter #GelanteStyle #BaroqueClassicalTransition #austriancomposer #czechcomposer


 


 

 

Gaetano Donizetti

Full Name: Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti
Date of Birth: Nov. 29, 1797
Date of Death: Apr. 08, 1848
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer
Nationality:  Italian 
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic transition, bel canto
Contribution(s)/Notable Works(s): Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti’s close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901).

Biography: Donizetti was born in Bergamo in Lombardy. Although he did not come from a musical background, at an early age he was taken under the wing of composer Simon Mayr who had enrolled him by means of a full scholarship in a school which he had set up. There he received detailed training in the arts of fugue and counterpoint. Mayr was also instrumental in obtaining a place for the young man at the Bologna Academy, where, at the age of 19, he wrote his first one-act opera, the comedy Il Pigmalione, which may not have ever been performed during his lifetime.

Over the course of his career, Donizetti wrote almost 70 operas. An offer in 1822 from Domenico Barbaja, the impresario of the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, which followed the composer’s ninth opera, led to his move to that city and his residency there which lasted until the production of Caterina Cornaro in January 1844. In all, Naples presented 51 of Donizetti’s operas.

Before 1830, success came primarily with his comic operas, the serious ones failing to attract significant audiences.However, his first notable success came with an opera seriaZoraida di Granata, which was presented in 1822 in Rome. In 1830, when Anna Bolena was premiered, Donizetti made a major impact on the Italian and international opera scene and this shifted the balance of success away from primarily comedic operas, although even after that date, his best-known works included comedies such as L’elisir d’amore (1832) and Don Pasquale (1843). Significant historical dramas did appear and became successful; they included Lucia di Lammermoor (the first to have a libretto written by Salvadore Cammarano) given in Naples in 1835, and one of the most successful Neapolitan operas, Roberto Devereux in 1837. Up to that point, all of his operas had been set to Italian libretti.

Donizetti found himself increasingly chafing against the censorial limitations which existed in Italy (and especially in Naples). From about 1836, he became interested in working in Paris, where he saw much greater freedom to choose subject matter, in addition to receiving larger fees and greater prestige. From 1838 onward, with an offer from the Paris Opéra for two new works, he spent a considerable period of the following ten years in that city, and set several operas to French texts as well as overseeing staging of his Italian works. The first opera was a French version of the then-unperformed Poliuto which, in April 1840, was revised to become Les martyrs. Two new operas were also given in Paris at that time.

As the 1840s progressed, Donizetti moved regularly between Naples, Rome, Paris, and Vienna continuing to compose and stage his own operas as well as those of other composers. But from around 1843, severe illness began to take hold and to limit his activities. Eventually, by early 1846 he was obliged to be confined to an institution for the mentally ill and, by late 1847, friends had him moved back to Bergamo, where he died in April 1848.

Biography: Early life and musical education in Bergamo and Bologna   |   Career as an opera composer   |   1818–1822: Early compositions   |   1822–1830: Rome, Naples, Milan   |   Success in Rome   |   Donizetti moves to Naples   |   Late July 1822 to February 1824: Assignments in Milan and Rome   |   1824–1830: Palermo and Naples   |   1830–1838: International fame   |   1838–1840: Donizetti abandons Naples for Paris   |   1840–1843: Back and forth between Paris, Milan, Vienna, and Naples   |   1843–1845: Paris to Vienna to Italy; final return to Paris   |   Work in Vienna   |   Return to Paris   |   1844: In Vienna   |   Summer/Autumn 1844: Travel to and within Italy   |   December 1844 – July 1845: Last visit to Vienna   |   1845–1848: Return to Paris; declining health; return to Bergamo; death   |   Institutionalization   |   Attempts to move Donizetti back to Paris   |   The final journey to Bergamo   |   Personal life


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Gaetano Donizetti (Nov. 29, 1797 – Apr. 08, 1848) Italian Composer of opera in the bel canto style; Classical/Romantic transition era

Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti’s close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901).

#GaetanoDonizetti #Donizetti #ItalianComposer ClassicalRomanticTransion #BelCanto #LuciaDiLammamoor


 

George Whitefield Chadwick

Composer: George Whitefield Chadwick
Date of Birth: November 13, 1854
Date of Death: April 4, 1931
Nationality: 🇺🇸 American
Period/Era/Style: Late Romantic-era
Contribution(s): Chadwick was an American composer. Along with Horatio Parker, Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, and Edward MacDowell, he was a representative composer of what is called the Second New England School of American composers of the late 19th century—the generation before Charles Ives. Chadwick’s works are influenced by the Realist movement in the arts, characterized by a down-to-earth depiction of people’s lives. Many consider his music to portray a distinctively American style. His works included several operas, three symphonies, five string quartets, tone poems, incidental music, songs and choral anthems. Along with a group of other composers collectively known as the Boston Six, Chadwick was one of those responsible for the first significant body of concert music by composers from the United States. The other five were Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker.

Biography:  Early life   |   Works, career, and influences   |   Student days   |   Return to Boston   |   Involvement with Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity   |   Music   |   The formative period (1879–1894)   |   The Americanism/Modernism period (1895–1909)   |    The dramatic period (1910–1918)   |   The reflective years (1919–1931)   |   Music theory


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George Whitefield Chadwick (Nov. 13, 1854 – Apr. 04, 1931)
🇺🇸 American; Late Romantic-era Composer
Along with a group of other composers collectively known as the Boston Six, Chadwick was one of those responsible for the first significant body of concert music by composers from the United States. The other five were Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker. Chadwick was a representative composer of what is called the Second New England School of American composers of the late 19th century—the generation before Charles Ives. Chadwick’s works are influenced by the Realist movement in the arts, characterized by a down-to-earth depiction of people’s lives. Many consider his music to portray a distinctively American style. His works included several operas, three symphonies, five string quartets, tone poems, incidental music, songs and choral anthems.


 

Carl Maria von Weber

Composer Name: 

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber

Date of Birth: November 18 or 19, 1786
Date of Death: June 05, 1826
Nationality: German
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer, Conductor, Pianist, Guitarist and Music Critic
Period/Era/Style: Romantic
Notable Work(s):
  • “Der Freischütz”
  • Invitation to the Dance (Aufforderung zum Tanze)
  • Konzertstück for piano & orchestra in F minor, J. 282 (Op. 79)
  • Symphony No. 1 in C major, J. 50 (Op. 19)

Contribution(s): Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, and was one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Weber’s operas Der FreischützEuryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantische Oper (Romantic opera) in Germany. Der Freischütz came to be regarded as the first German “nationalist” opera, Euryanthe developed the Leitmotif technique to an unprecedented degree, while Oberon may have influenced Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, at the same time, revealed Weber’s lifelong interest in the music of non-Western cultures. This interest was first manifested in Weber’s incidental music for Schiller’s translation of Gozzi’s Turandot, for which he used a Chinese melody, making him the first Western composer to use an Asian tune that was not of the pseudo-Turkish kind popularized by Mozart and others.

A brilliant pianist himself, Weber composed four sonatas, two concertos and the c(concert piece), which influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. The Konzertstück provided a new model for the one-movement concerto in several contrasting sections (such as Liszt’s, who often played the work), and was acknowledged by Stravinsky as the model for his Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. Weber’s shorter piano pieces, such as the Invitation to the Dance, were later orchestrated by Berlioz, while his Polacca Brillante was later set for piano and orchestra by Liszt.

Weber’s compositions for clarinet, bassoon, and horn occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His compositions for the clarinet, which include two concertos, a concertino, a quintet, a duo concertante, and variations on a theme from his opera Silvana, are regularly performed today. His Concertino for Horn and Orchestra requires the performer to simultaneously produce two notes by humming while playing—a technique known as “multiphonics”. His bassoon concerto and the Andante e Rondo ungarese (a reworking of a piece originally for viola and orchestra) are also popular with bassoonists.

Weber’s contribution to vocal and choral music is also significant. His body of Catholic religious music was highly popular in 19th-century Germany, and he composed one of the earliest song cycles, Die Temperamente beim Verluste der Geliebten ([Four] Temperaments on the Loss of a Lover). Weber was also notable as one of the first conductors to conduct without a piano or violin.

Weber’s orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers – Berlioz referred to him several times in his Treatise on Instrumentation while Debussy remarked that the sound of the Weber orchestra was obtained through the scrutiny of the soul of each instrument.

His operas influenced the work of later opera composers, especially in Germany, such as Marschner, Meyerbeer and Wagner, as well as several nationalist 19th-century composers such as Glinka. Homage has been paid to Weber by 20th-century composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Mahler (who completed Weber’s unfinished comic opera Die drei Pintos and made revisions of Euryanthe and Oberon) and Hindemith (composer of the popular Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber).

Weber also wrote music journalism and was interested in folksong, and learned lithography to engrave his own works.

Biography: Life: Childhood   |   Education   |   Early career 1803–1810   |   Later career 1810–1826   |   Legacy


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Carl Maria von Weber (Nov. 18. 1786 – Jun. 05. 1826) German; Romantic
Composer, Conductor, Pianist, Guitarist and Music Critic

Weber is one of the great figures of German Romanticism. Known for his opera Der Freischütz, a work which expresses the spirit and aspirations of German Romanticism.

#CarlMariavonWeber #CMvWeber #GermanComposer #RomanticComposer #DerFreischutz

Benjamin Britten

Composer: Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh OM CH
Date of Birth: 22 November 1913
Date of Death: 04 December 1976
Nationality: English
Period/Era/Style: 20th Century, Neoclassicism, Neotonality
Contribution(s): Britten was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

Biography: Born in Suffolk, the son of a dentist, Britten showed talent from an early age. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and privately with the composer Frank Bridge. Britten first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy was Born in 1934. With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next 28 years, he wrote 14 more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20th-century composers in the genre. In addition to large-scale operas for Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden, he wrote “chamber operas” for small forces, suitable for performance in venues of modest size. Among the best known of these is The Turn of the Screw (1954). Recurring themes in his operas include the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society and the corruption of innocence.

Britten’s other works range from orchestral to choral, solo vocal, chamber and instrumental as well as film music. He took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers, including the opera Noye’s Fludde, a Missa Brevis, and the song collection Friday Afternoons. He often composed with particular performers in mind. His most frequent and important muse was his personal and professional partner, the tenor Peter Pears; others included Kathleen Ferrier, Jennifer Vyvyan, Janet Baker, Dennis Brain, Julian Bream, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Mstislav Rostropovich. Britten was a celebrated pianist and conductor, performing many of his own works in concert and on record. He also performed and recorded works by others, such as Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Mozart symphonies, and song cycles by Schubert and Schumann.

Together with Pears and the librettist and producer Eric Crozier, Britten founded the annual Aldeburgh Festival in 1948, and he was responsible for the creation of Snape Maltings concert hall in 1967. In his last year, he was the first composer to be given a life peerage.

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Jacob Obrecht

Composer Name:   Jacob Obrecht (also Hobrecht)
Date of Birth: 22 November either in 1457 or 1458?
Date of Death:  late July 1505
Nationality: Flemish Dutch (The Netherlands)
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer; Scholar; Clergyman
Period/Era/Style: Renaissance: Franco-Flemish

Contribution(s): Obrecht was the most famous composer of masses in Europe in the late 15th century, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.

Biography: Life: What little is known of Obrecht’s origins and early childhood comes mostly from his motet Mille quingentis. He was the only son of Ghent city trumpeter Willem Obrecht and Lijsbette Gheeraerts. His mother died in 1460 at the age of 20, and his father in 1488 in Ghent.

Details of his early education are sparse, but he probably learned to play the trumpet, like his father, and in so doing learned counterpoint and how to improvise over a cantus firmus. He is likely to have known Antoine Busnois at the Burgundian court, and certainly knew his music, since Obrecht’s earliest mass shows close stylistic parallels with the elder composer.

Scholar, composer and clergyman, Obrecht seems to have had a succession of short appointments, two of which ended in less than ideal circumstances. There is a record of his compensating for a shortfall in his accounts by donating choirbooks he had copied. Throughout the period he was held in the highest esteem both by his patrons and by his fellow composers. Tinctoris, writing in Naples, singles him out in a shortlist of contemporary master composers—all the more significant because he was only 25 when Tinctoris created his list, and on the other side of Europe. Erasmus served as one of Obrecht’s choirboys around 1476.

While most of Obrecht’s appointments were in Flanders in the Low Countries, he made at least two trips to Italy, once in 1487 at the invitation of Duke Ercole d’Este I of Ferrara, and again in 1504. Ercole had heard Obrecht’s music, which is known to have circulated in Italy between 1484 and 1487, and said that he appreciated it above the music of all other contemporary composers; consequently he invited Obrecht to Ferrara for six months in 1487. In 1504 Obrecht returned to Ferrara, but on the death of the Duke at the beginning of the next year he became unemployed. In what capacity he stayed in Ferrara is unknown, but he died in the outbreak of plague there just before 1 August 1505.

Works: Obrecht wrote mainly sacred music—masses and motets—and he also wrote some chansons.

Combining modern and archaic elements, Obrecht’s style is multi-dimensional. Perhaps more than those of the mature Josquin, the masses of Obrecht display a profound debt to the music of Johannes Ockeghem in the wide-arching melodies and long musical phrases that typify the latter’s music. Obrecht’s style is an example of the contrapuntal extravagance of the late 15th century. He often used a cantus firmus technique for his masses: sometimes he divided his source material up into short phrases; at other times he used retrograde versions of complete melodies or melodic fragments. He once even extracted the component notes and ordered them by note value, long to short, constructing new melodic material from the reordered sequences of notes. Clearly to Obrecht there could not be too much variety, particularly during the musically exploratory period of his early twenties. He began to break free from conformity to formes fixes, especially in his chansons. Of the formes fixes, the rondeau retained its popularity longest. However, he much preferred composing Masses, where he found greater freedom. Furthermore, his motets reveal a wide variety of moods and techniques.

In his Missa Sub tuum presidium, the number of voice parts in the five movements increases from three in the Kyrie, to four in the Gloria, and so on up to seven in the Agnus Dei. The title chant is clearly heard in the top voice throughout the work, and five additional Marian chants are found in movements other than the Kyrie. His late four-voice mass, Missa Maria zart (tender Maria), tentatively dated to around 1504, is based on a devotional song popular in the Tyrol, which he probably heard as he went through the region around 1503 to 1504. Requiring more than an hour to perform, it is one of the longest polyphonic settings of the Mass Ordinary ever written.

Despite working at the same period, Obrecht and Ockeghem (Obrecht’s senior by some 30 years) differ significantly in musical style. Obrecht does not share Ockeghem’s fanciful treatment of the cantus firmus but chooses to quote it verbatim.Whereas the phrases in Ockeghem’s music are ambiguously defined, those of Obrecht’s music can easily be distinguished, though both composers favor wide-arching melodic structure. Furthermore, Obrecht splices the cantus firmus melody with the intent of audibly reorganizing the motives; Ockeghem, on the other hand, does this far less.

Obrecht’s procedures contrast sharply with the works of the next generation, who favored an increasing simplicity of approach (prefigured by some works of his contemporary Josquin). Although he was renowned in his time, Obrecht appears to have had little influence on subsequent composers; most probably, he simply went out of fashion along with the other contrapuntal masters of his generation.


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Jacob Obrecht (Nov. 22, either in 1457 or 1458? – late July 1505)
Flemish Dutch (The Netherlands); Renaissance: Franco-Flemish
Obrecht was the most famous composer of masses in Europe in the late 15th century, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.

#JacobObrecht #RenaissanceComposer #FrancoFlemishComposer #DutchComposer

Franz Benda

Composer: Franz (František) Benda
Date of Birth: baptised 22 November 1709
Date of Death: 7 March 1786
Nationality:  Bohemian (modern day Czech Republic)
Period/Era/Style: Early Galante era – transition from Baroque to Classical
Contribution(s): Benda was a Bohemian violinist and composer, who worked for much of his life at the court of Frederick the Great.

Biography
Life: Benda was born in Benátky nad Jizerou in Bohemia, the son of Jan Jiří Benda. His brother was the composer Jiří Antonín Benda (Georg Anton Benda). Benda’s daughter Juliane Reichardt (1752–1783) and his granddaughter Louise Reichardt (1779–1826) were also composers. Benda wrote his autobiography in 1763: it not only gives a detailed account of his own life but also a valuable record of the lives of other musicians whom he encountered during his career.
In his youth Benda was a chorister in Prague and afterward in the Chapel Royal at Dresden. At the same time he began to study the violin, and soon joined a company of strolling musicians who attended fetes, fairs, etc. At eighteen years of age Benda abandoned this wandering life and returned to Prague, going to Vienna, where he pursued his study of the violin under Johann Gottlieb Graun, a pupil of Tartini. After two years he was appointed chapel master at Warsaw. In 1732, he entered the service of Frederick the Great, then crown prince of Prussia, with whom he remained the rest of his life. He was a member of the crown prince’s orchestra, and later became concertmaster to the king. He played about 50,000 concertos over a period of forty years. At Benda’s request, Frederick allowed his parents and siblings to move to Potsdam when, as Protestants, they suffered religious persecution in Bohemia.
Benda was a master of all the difficulties of violin playing, and the rapidity of his execution and the mellow sweetness of his highest notes were unequalled. He had many pupils and wrote a number of works, chiefly exercises and studies for the violin.
Benda died in the Nowawes, a small colony near Potsdam set up by Frederick the Great to house Protestant refugees fleeing religious persecution in Bohemia.

Legacy: Descendants of Benda also continue in the same musical line. In the 20th century, František Benda was a composer of film scores and other works. The Benda Chamber Orchestra, which carries and honours the name of the Benda musical family, was founded in 1956 in Ústí nad Labem, Northern Bohemia (Czech Republic).

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Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach sketch.png Full Name: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Date of Birth: November 22, 1710
Date of Death: July 01, 1784
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer: Organist
Nationality: German
Period/Era/Style: Early Classical era/Later Galante era
Contribution(s)/Notable Works(s): WF Bach was the second child and eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach, he was a German composer and performer. Despite his acknowledged genius as an organist, improviser and composer, his income and employment were unstable and he died in poverty.

Biography: Wilhelm Friedemann (hereafter Friedemann) was born in Weimar, where his father was employed as organist and chamber musician to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. In July 1720, when Friedemann was nine, his mother Maria Barbara Bach died suddenly; Johann Sebastian Bach remarried in December 1721. J. S. Bach supervised Friedemann’s musical education and career with great attention. The graded course of keyboard studies and composition that J. S. Bach provided is documented in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (modern spelling: Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach), with entries by both father and son. This education also included (parts of) the French Suites, (Two-Part) Inventions, (Three-Part) Sinfonias (popularly known as “Inventions”), the first volume of The Well-Tempered Clavier, and the six Trio Sonatas for organ. At the age of 16 he went to Merseburg to learn the violin with his teacher Johann Gottlieb Graun.

In addition to his musical training, Friedemann received formal schooling beginning in Weimar. When J.S. Bach took the post of Cantor of the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig (in 1723), he enrolled Friedemann in the associated Thomasschule. (J.S. Bach—who had himself been orphaned at the age of 10—said that he took the position in Leipzig partly because of the educational opportunities it afforded his children). On graduating in 1729, Friedemann enrolled as a law student in Leipzig University, a renowned institution at the time, but later moved on to study law and mathematics at the University of Halle. He maintained a lifelong interest in mathematics, and continued to study it privately during his first job in Dresden.

Portrait by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, formerly believed to show Wilhelm Friedemann, but depicting his pupil Johann Christian Bach (1743–1814) from Halle

Friedemann was appointed in 1733 to the position of organist of the St. Sophia’s Church at Dresden. In competing for the post he played a new version of his father’s Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541. The judge described Friedemann as clearly superior to the other two candidates. He remained a renowned organist throughout his life. Among his many pupils in Dresden was Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, the keyboardist whose name is erroneously enshrined in the popular nickname given to J. S. Bach’s 1742 publication, “Aria with Diverse Variations”—that is, “The Goldberg Variations.” The scholar Peter Williamshas discredited the story which links the work to Goldberg stating that J. S. Bach wrote the work for the Russian Ambassador Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk, who would ask his employee, Goldberg, to play variations for him to ward off insomnia. Williams instead has argued that J.S. Bach wrote the variations to provide a display piece for Friedemann.

In 1746 Friedemann became organist of the Liebfrauenkirche at Halle. In 1751, Friedemann married Dorothea Elisabeth Georgi (1721–1791), who was 11 years his junior and who outlived him by seven years. Dorothea was the daughter of a tax collector. The landed estates she inherited caused the family to be placed in a high tax bracket by Halle authorities, who were raising taxes to meet the revenue demands of the Seven Years’ War. To raise cash for these payments, she sold part of her property in 1770. The couple produced two sons and a daughter, Friederica Sophia (born in 1757), who was the only one of their offspring to live past infancy. The descendents of Friederica Sophia eventually migrated to Oklahoma.

Friedemann was deeply unhappy in Halle almost from the beginning of his tenure. In 1749 he was involved in a conflict with the Cantor of the Liebfrauenkirche, Gottfried Mittag, who had misappropriated funds that were due to Friedemann. In 1750 the church authorities reprimanded Friedemann for overstaying a leave of absence (he was in Leipzig settling his father’s estate). In 1753 he made his first documented attempt to find another post, and thereafter made several others. All these attempts failed. Bach had at least two pupils, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust and Johann Samuel Petri.

In 1762, he negotiated for the post of Kapellmeister to the court of Darmstadt; although he protracted the negotiations for reasons that are opaque to historians and did not actively take the post, he nevertheless was appointed Hofkapellmeister of Hessen-Darmstadt, a title he used in the dedication of his Harpsichord Concerto in E minor.

In June 1764, Friedemann left the job in Halle without any employment secured elsewhere His financial situation deteriorated so much that in 1768 he re-applied for his old job in Halle, without success. He thereafter supported himself by teaching. After leaving Halle in 1770, he lived for several years (1771–1774) in Braunschweigwhere he applied in vain for the post of an organist at the St. Catherine’s church. Then he moved to Berlin, where he initially was welcomed by the princess Anna Amalia(the sister of Frederick the Great). Later, no longer in favor at court, he gave harpsichord lessons to Sarah Itzig Levy, the daughter of a prominent Jewish family in Berlin and an avid collector of Bach and other early 18th century music, who was also a “patron” of Friedemann’s brother CPE Bach. Friedemann died in Berlin.

Earlier biographers have concluded that his “wayward” and difficult personality reduced his ability to gain and hold secure employment, but the scholar David Schulenberg writes (in the Oxford Composer Companion: J.S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd, 1999) that “he may also have been affected by changing social conditions that made it difficult for a self-possessed virtuoso to succeed in a church- or court-related position” (p. 39). Schulenberg adds, “he was evidently less willing than most younger contemporaries to compose fashionable, readily accessible music”.

Friedemann Bach was renowned for his improvisatory skills. It is speculated that when in Leipzig his father’s accomplishments set so high a bar that he focused on improvisation rather than composition. Evidence adduced for this speculation includes the fact that his compositional output increased in Dresden and Halle.

Friedemann’s compositions include many church cantatas and instrumental works, of which the most notable are the fugues, polonaises and fantasias for clavier, and the duets for two flutes. He incorporated more elements of the contrapuntal style learned from his father than any of his three composer brothers, but his use of the style has an individualistic and improvisatory edge which endeared his work to musicians of the late 19th century, when there was something of a revival of his reputation.

Friedemann’s students included Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who in 1802 published the first biography of Johann Sebastian Bach; Friedemann, as well as his younger brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, were major informants for Forkel. Friedemann has in earlier biographies been called a poor custodian of his father’s musical manuscripts, many of which he inherited; however, more recent scholars are uncertain how many were lost. It is known that Friedemann sold some of his father’s collection to raise cash to pay debts (including a large sale in 1759 to Johann Georg Nacke). Also, his daughter took some of the Sebastian Bach manuscripts with her when she moved to America, and these were passed on to her descendants, who inadvertently destroyed many of them. Others were passed on through his only known Berlin pupil, Sarah Itzig Levy, great-aunt of Felix Mendelssohn. Some of his scores were collected by Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch and his pupil Carl Friedrich Zelter, the teacher of Felix Mendelssohn and through them these materials were placed in the library of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, which Fasch founded in 1791 and of which Zelter took charge in 1800.

Friedemann is known occasionally to have claimed credit for music written by his father, but this was in keeping with common musical practices in the era.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is not to be confused with Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, his nephew, also a composer.


Playlist: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

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Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710 – 1784)
German Composer; Organist
Early Classical era/Later Galante era

WF Bach was the second child and eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach, he was a German composer and performer. Despite his acknowledged genius as an organist, improviser and composer, his income and employment were unstable and he died in poverty.

#WilhelmFriedemannBach #WFBach #BachFamily #GermanComposer #ClassicalEraComposer #ClassicalComposer #GalanteSytle

Daniel Gregory Mason

Composer Name: Daniel Gregory Mason
Date of Birth: November 20, 1873
Date of Death: December 4, 1953
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer; Music Critic.
Nationality:  American
Period/Era/Style: Romantic-era/20th-century

Biography: Mason was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He came from a long line of notable American musicians, including his father Henry Mason, and his grandfather Lowell Mason. His cousin, John B. Mason, was a popular actor on the American and British stage. Daniel Mason studied under John Knowles Paine at Harvard University from 1891 to 1895, continuing his studies with George Chadwick and Percy Goetschius. He also studied with Arthur Whiting and later wrote a biographical journal article about him. In 1894 he published his Opus 1, a set of keyboard waltzes, but soon after began writing about music as his primary career. He became a lecturer at Columbia University in 1905, where he would remain until his retirement in 1942, successively being awarded the positions of assistant professor (1910), MacDowell professor (1929) and head of the music department (1929-1940). He was elected a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the national fraternity for men in music, in 1914 by the Fraternity’s Alpha Chapter at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

After 1907, Mason began devoting significant time to composition, studying with Vincent D’Indy in Paris in 1913, garnering numerous honorary doctorates and winning prizes from the Society for the Publication of American Music and the Juilliard Foundation.

He died in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Style: Mason’s compositional idiom was thoroughly romantic. He deeply admired and respected the Austro-Germanic canon of the nineteenth century, especially Brahms; despite studying under D’Indy, he disliked impressionism and utterly disregarded the modernist musical movements of the 20th century. Mason sought to increase respect for American music, sometimes incorporating indigenous and popular motifs (such as popular songs or Negro spirituals) into his scores or evoking them through suggestive titles, though he was not a thorough-going nationalist. He was a fastidious composer who repeatedly revised his scores (the manuscripts of which are now held at Columbia).


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Daniel Gregory Mason (Nov. 20, 1873 – Dec. 4, 1953)
American; Post-Romantic/20th Century; Composer; Music Critic
Mason’s compositional idiom was thoroughly romantic. He deeply admired and respected the Austro-Germanic canon of the nineteenth century, especially Brahms; despite studying under D’Indy, he disliked impressionism and utterly disregarded the modernist musical movements of the 20th century. Mason sought to increase respect for American music, sometimes incorporating indigenous and popular motifs (such as popular songs or Negro spirituals) into his scores or evoking them through suggestive titles, though he was not a thorough-going nationalist. He was a fastidious composer who repeatedly revised his scores (the manuscripts of which are now held at Columbia).

#DanielGregoryMason #PostRomanticComposer #20thCenturyComposer #AmericanComposer

Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov

Name: Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov
Date of Birth: Nov. 19, 1859
Date of Death: Jan. 28, 1935
Discipline/Occupation(s): Composer; Conductor; Teacher
Nationality:  Russian
Period/Era/Style: Romantic; folk music
Contribution(s): A Russian composer of orchestral works and operas influenced by Caucasian and Georgian folk music. He formed his aesthetic in the 1880s under the influence of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, and Russian folk music, and his style never changed much even though he lived and worked into the 1930s. He was a capable yet rarely individual composer, a sort of Glazunov with a more highly developed interest in ethnic music (part of which probably came under state “encouragement” after the Revolution).

Biography: He was born in 1859 at Gatchina, near St. Petersburg, where his father was a mechanic employed at the palace. His birth name was Mikhail Mikhaylovich Ivanov; later he added Ippolitov, his mother’s maiden name, to distinguish himself from a composer and music critic with an identical name (Mikhail Ivanov). He studied music at home and was a choirboy at the cathedral of St. Isaac, where he also had musical instruction, before entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1875. In 1882 he completed his studies as a composition pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, whose influence was to remain strong.

Ippolitov-Ivanov’s first appointment was to the position of director of the music academy and conductor of the orchestra in Tbilisi (Tiflis), the principal city of Georgia, where he was to spend the next seven years. This period allowed him to develop an interest in the music of the region, a reflection of the general interest taken in the music of non-Slav minorities and more exotic neighbours that was current at the time, and that was to receive overt official encouragement for other reasons after the Revolution. One of his notable pupils in Tbilisi was conductor Edouard Grikurov.

On 1 May 1886, in Tbilisi, he conducted the premiere of the third and final version of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasia.

In 1893 Ippolitov-Ivanov became a professor at the Conservatory in Moscow, of which he was director from 1905 until 1924. He served as conductor for the Russian Choral Society, the Mamontov and Zimin Opera companies and, after 1925, the Bolshoi Theatre, and was known as a contributor to broadcasting and to musical journalism.

Politically, Ippolitov-Ivanov retained a measure of independence. He was president of the Society of Writers and Composers in 1922, but took no part in the quarrels between musicians concerned either to encourage new developments in music or to foster a form of proletarian art. His own style had been formed in the 1880s under Rimsky-Korsakov, and to this he added a similar interest in folk-music, particularly the music of Georgia, where he returned in 1924 to spend a year reorganizing the Conservatory in Tbilisi. He died in Moscow in 1935.

His pupils included Reinhold Glière and Sergei Vasilenko.


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Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (Nov. 19, 1859 – Jan. 28, 1968)
Russian Romantic Composer, Conductor and Teacher

Ippolitov-Ivanov  was a composer of orchestral works and operas influenced by Caucasian and Georgian folk music. He formed his aesthetic in the 1880s under the influence of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, and Russian folk music, and his style never changed much even though he lived and worked into the 1930s. He was a capable yet rarely individual composer, a sort of Glazunov with a more highly developed interest in ethnic music (part of which probably came under state “encouragement” after the Revolution).

#MikhailIppolitovIvanov #Ivanov #RussianComposer #RomanticComposer

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