John Field (1782-1837) was an Irish pianist, composer, and teacher. He was born in Dublin into a musical family, and received his early education there, in particular with the immigrant Tommaso Giordani. The Fields soon moved to London, where Field studied under Muzio Clementi. Under his tutelage, Field quickly became a famous and sought-after concert pianist. Together, master and pupil visited Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. Ambiguity surrounds Field’s decision to remain in the former Russian capital, but it is likely that Field acted as a sales representative for the Clementi Pianos. Field is best known as the inventor of the nocturne, but there is evidence to suggest that this is a posthumous accolade.
Field was very highly regarded by his contemporaries and his playing and compositions influenced many major composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Although little is known of Field in Russia, he undoubtedly contributed substantially to concerts and teaching, and to the development of the Russian piano school.
Composer full Name: John Field
Date of Birth: 26 July 1782 [?], baptised 5 September 1782
Date of Death: 23 January 1837
Nationality: ?? Irish
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic Transition
Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (1791-1844), was the youngest child of six born to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his wife Constanze. He was the younger of his parents’ two surviving children. He was a composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher from the late classical period whose musical style was of an early Romanticism, heavily influenced by his father’s mature style.
Composer full Name: Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, also known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.
Date of Birth: 26 July 1791
Date of Death: 29 July 1844
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic Transition
Biography: Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was born in Vienna, five months before his father’s death. Although he was baptized Franz Xaver Mozart, from birth on he was always called Wolfgang by his family. He received excellent musical instruction from Antonio Salieri and Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and studied composition with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Sigismund von Neukomm. He learned to play both the piano and violin. Like his father, he started to compose at an early age. “In April 1805, the thirteen-year-old Wolfgang Mozart made his debut in Vienna in a concert in the Theater an der Wien.”
Wolfgang became a professional musician and enjoyed moderate success both as a teacher and a performer. Unlike his father, he was introverted and given to self-deprecation. He constantly underrated his talent and feared that whatever he produced would be compared with what his father had done.
Needing money, in 1808 he travelled to Lemberg (now Lviv), where he gave music lessons to the daughters of the Polish count Wiktor Baworowski. Although the pay was good, Franz felt lonely in the town of Pidkamin, near Rohatyn, so in 1809 he accepted an offer from the imperial chamberlain, Count von Janiszewski, to teach his daughters music in the town of Burshtyn. Besides teaching, he gave local concerts, playing his own and his father’s pieces. These concerts introduced him to the important people in Galicia.
After two years in Burshtyn he moved to Lemberg where he spent more than 20 years teaching (with students including Julie von Webenau, née Baroni-Cavalcabò) and giving concerts. Between 1826 and 1829 he conducted the choir of Saint Cecilia which consisted of 400 amateur singers. In 1826 he conducted his father’s Requiem during a concert at the Greek Catholic cathedral of St. George. From this choir he created the musical brotherhood of Saint Cecilia and thus the first school of music in Lemberg. He did not give up performing and in the years 1819 to 1821 traveled throughout Europe. In 1819 he gave concerts in Warsaw, Elbing and Danzig (Gdańsk).
In the 1820s Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was one of 50 composers to write a variation on a theme of Anton Diabelli for part II of the Vaterländischer Künstlerverein (see featured page). Part I was devoted to the 33 variations supplied by Beethoven which have gained an independent identity as his Diabelli Variations Op. 120.
In 1838 Mozart left for Vienna, and then for Salzburg, where he was appointed as the Kapellmeister of the Mozarteum. From 1841 he taught the pianist Ernst Pauer. Mozart died from stomach cancer on 29 July 1844 in the town of Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary) where he was buried.
He never married nor did he have any children. His will was executed by Josephine de Baroni-Cavalcabò, the dedicatee of his cello sonata and a longtime patroness. The shadow of his father loomed large over him even in death. The following epitaph was etched on his tombstone: “May the name of his father be his epitaph, as his veneration for him was the essence of his life.”
Gluck was a composer of Italian and French opera in the early classical period. Born in the Upper Palatinate and raised in Bohemia, both part of the Holy Roman Empire, he gained prominence at the Habsburg court at Vienna. There he brought about the practical reform of opera’s dramaturgical practices for which many intellectuals had been campaigning. With a series of radical new works in the 1760s, among them Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste, he broke the stranglehold that Metastasian opera seria had enjoyed for much of the century. Gluck introduced more drama by using simpler recitative and cutting the usually long da capo aria. His later operas have half the length of a typical baroque opera.
The strong influence of French opera encouraged Gluck to move to Paris in November 1773. Fusing the traditions of Italian opera and the French (with rich chorus) into a unique synthesis, Gluck wrote eight operas for the Parisian stage. Iphigénie en Tauride was a great success and is generally acknowledged to be his finest work. Though he was extremely popular and widely credited with bringing about a revolution in French opera, Gluck’s mastery of the Parisian operatic scene was never absolute, and after the poor reception of his Echo et Narcisse, he left Paris in disgust and returned to Vienna to live out the remainder of his life.
Composer: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Date of Birth: 08 March 1714
Date of Death: 14 December 1788
Period/Era/Style: Early Classical / Late Gelante
Contribution(s): C. P. E. Bach was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second (surviving) son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. His second name was given in honor of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, a friend of Johann Sebastian Bach.
C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father’s baroque style and the classical and romantic styles that followed it. His personal approach, an expressive and often turbulent one known as empfindsamer Stil or ‘sensitive style’, applied the principles of rhetoric and drama to musical structures. Bach’s dynamism stands in deliberate contrast to the more mannered galant style also then in vogue.
To distinguish him from his brother Johann Christian, the “London Bach,” who at this time was music master to the Queen of England, C. P. E. Bach was known as the “Berlin Bach” during his residence in that city, and later as the “Hamburg Bach” when he succeeded Telemann as Kapellmeister there. He was known simply as Emanuel to his contemporaries.
Composer: Gioachino Antonio Rossini
Date of Birth: 29 February 1792
Date of Death: 13 November 1868
Period/Era/Style: Classical / Romantic Transition
Contribution(s): Rossini was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as some sacred music, songs, chamber music, and piano pieces. He was a precocious composer of operas, and he made his debut at age 18 with La cambiale di matrimonio. His best-known operas include the Italian comedies The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia), The Italian Girl in Algiers (L’italiana in Algeri), and Cinderella (La Cenerentola). He also wrote a string of serious operas in Italian, including works such as Tancredi, Otello, and Semiramide. The Thieving Magpie (La gazza ladra) features one of his most celebrated overtures.
Rossini moved to Paris in 1824 where he began to set French librettos to music. His last opera was the epic William Tell (Guillaume Tell), featuring its iconic overture which helped to usher in grand opera in France. A tendency for inspired, song-like melodies is evident throughout his scores, which earned him the nickname “the Italian Mozart.”He was a rapid and prolific composer, quoted as joking, “Give me the laundress’ bill and I will even set that to music.” He also earned the nickname “Signor Crescendo” for his use of an exciting buildup of orchestral sound over a repeated phrase, which is now commonly known as a “Rossini crescendo”. Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in history until he returned to Italy in 1829.
Composer: Carl Czerny
Date of Birth: 21 February 1791
Date of Death: 15 July 1857
Period/Era/Style: Contribution(s): Czerny was an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin whose vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works. His books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching.
Biography: Carl Czerny was born in Vienna (Leopoldstadt) and was baptized in St. Leopold parish. His parents were of Czech origin; his mother was Moravian. His parents spoke the Czech language with him. Czerny came from a musical family: his grandfather was a violinist at Nymburk, near Prague, and his father, Wenzel, was an oboist, organist and pianist. When Czerny was six months old, his father took a job as a piano teacher at a Polish manor and the family moved to Poland, where they lived until the third partition of Poland prompted the family to return to Vienna in 1795.
A child prodigy, Czerny began playing piano at age three and composing at age seven. His first piano teacher was his father, who taught him mainly Bach, Haydn and Mozart. He began performing piano recitals in his parents’ home. Czerny made his first public performance in 1800 playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor.
Studies with Beethoven:In 1801, Wenzel Krumpholz, a Czech composer and violinist, scheduled a presentation for Czerny at the home of Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven asked Czerny to play his Pathétique Sonata and Adelaide. Beethoven was impressed with the 10-year-old and accepted him as a pupil. Czerny remained under Beethoven’s tutelage until 1804 and sporadically thereafter. He particularly admired Beethoven’s facility at improvisation, his expertise at fingering, the rapidity of his scales and trills, and his restrained demeanour while performing.
Czerny’s autobiography and letters give many important references to Beethoven during this period. Czerny was the first to report symptoms of Beethoven’s deafness, years before the matter became public: “I also noticed with that visual quickness peculiar to children that he had cotton which seemed to have been steeped in a yellowish liquid, in his ears.”
Czerny was selected by Beethoven for the premiere of the latter’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1806 and, at the age of 21, in February 1812, Czerny gave the Vienna premiere of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”. Czerny wrote that his musical memory enabled him to play all the Beethoven works by heart without exception and, during the years 1804–1805, he used to play these works in this manner at Prince Lichnowsky’s palace once or twice a week, with the Prince calling out only the desired opus numbers. Czerny maintained a relationship with Beethoven throughout his life, and also gave piano lessons to Beethoven’s nephew Carl.
Teacher and composer: At the age of fifteen, Czerny began a very successful teaching career. Basing his method on the teaching of Beethoven and Muzio Clementi, Czerny taught up to twelve lessons a day in the homes of Viennese nobility. His ‘star’ pupils included Theodor Döhler, Stephen Heller, Sigismond Thalberg, Leopoldine Blahetka and Ninette de Belleville. In 1819, the father of Franz Liszt brought his son to Czerny, who recalled:
He was a pale, sickly-looking child, who, while playing, swayed about on the stool as if drunk…His playing was…irregular, untidy, confused, and…he threw his fingers quite arbitrarily all over the keyboard. But that notwithstanding, I was astonished at the talent Nature had bestowed upon him.
Liszt became Czerny’s most famous pupil. He trained the child with the works of Beethoven, Clementi, Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Sebastian Bach. The Liszt family lived in the same street in Vienna as Czerny, who was so impressed by the boy that he taught him free of charge. Liszt was later to repay this confidence by introducing the music of Czerny at many of his Paris recitals. Shortly before Liszt’s Vienna concert of 13 April 1823 (his final concert of that season), Czerny arranged, with some difficulty (as Beethoven increasingly disliked child prodigies) the introduction of Liszt to Beethoven. Beethoven was sufficiently impressed with the young Liszt to give him a kiss on the forehead. Liszt remained close to Czerny, and in 1852 his Études d’exécution transcendente were published with a dedication to Czerny.
Czerny left Vienna only to make trips to Italy, France (in 1837, when he was assisted by Liszt) and England. After 1840, Czerny devoted himself exclusively to composition. He wrote a large number of piano solo exercises for the development of the pianistic technique (Gradus ad Parnassum), designed to cover from the first lessons for children up to the needs of the most advanced virtuoso.
Death: Czerny died in Vienna at the age of 66. He never married and had no near relatives. His large fortune he willed to charities (including an institution for the deaf), his housekeeper and the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, after making provision for the performance of a Requiem mass in his memory.
Playlist of Examples:
Op. 14, Brilliant Variations on an Austrian Waltz
Op. 153, Concerto for piano four-hands and orchestra in C major
Op. 780, Symphony No. 1 in C minor “Grand Symphony”
Op. 781, Symphony No. 2 in D major
WoO Symphony No. 5 in E♭
WoO Symphony no. 6 in G minor
Op. 73, Variations on “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”, for piano & orchestra
Op. 256, Fantasia concertante, for piano, flute and cello in G major
Op. 689, Grande Fantasy on the themes of ‘Norma’ by Vincenzo Bellini for piano, 6 hands
Op. 89, Capriccio à la fuga for the piano
Op. 204, Divertissement de concert, piano & orchestra
Op. 172, Gran Capriccio, in C minor
Op. 145, Great fantasy in the form of sonata, sonata No. 9 in B minor
Op. 740, Études, (The Art of Finger Dexterity) Nos. 7, 8, 25, 31, 35 & 36
Composer: Franz Peter Schubert
Date of Birth: 31 January 1797
Date of Death: 19 November 1828
Period/Era/Style: Classical / Romantic transition
Contribution(s): Schubert died at age 31, but was extremely prolific during his lifetime. His output consists of over 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.
Appreciation of Schubert’s music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical and early Romantic eras and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early 19th century.
Symphony No. 1 in D Major, D. 82
Symphony No. 2 in B-Flat Major, D. 125
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200
Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, D. 417 ‘Tragic’
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, D. 485
Symphony No. 6 in C Major, D. 589
Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D.759 ‘Die Unvollendete’
Symphony No. 9 in C Major, Op. posth., D. 944 ‘The Great’
Symphony No. 3 in D major
Symphony No. 5 in B♭ major
Symphony No. 8 in B minor – Unfinished
Moment Musical Op. 94 D 780
“Polonaise” in B♭ major D 580
Piano sonata n. 19 in B♭ D 960
Scherzo No. 1
“Rosamunde” Intermezzo in B♭ major
Violin Sonata in A Major, D. 574
Fantasie in C Major, D. 934
Violin Sonata in D Major, D. 384
Violin Sonata in A Minor, D. 385
Violin Sonata in G Minor, D. 408
Rondo in B Minor, D. 895
Arpeggione Sonata in A Minor, D. 821
1. Symphony No. 5 (Excerpt)
2. Ellens Gesang 3, Op. 52/6, D 839, “Ave Maria”
3. Impromptu In G♭, D 899
4. German Dance No. 1 In C, D 90
5. String Quintet In C Major D. 956 – II. Adagio (Excerpt)
6. Symphony No. 9 In C Major Great D. 944 – III. Scherzo, Allegro vivace (Excerpt)
8. Piano Quintet In A, Op. 114, D 667, “Trout” (Excerpt)
9. Moment Musical No. 3 In F Minor, Op. 94, D 780
10. Impromptus, Op. 90, D 899 – #4 In A♭
11. Symphony No. 3 In D, D 200 – Allegretto
12. Menuet (From “3 Small Pieces”)
13. Piano Sonata In A, D 664 (Excerpt)
14. Tantum Ergo In E♭, D 962
15. Mass No. 6 In E-Flat Major D. 950 – III. Credo: Et in carnatus est
16. Symphony No. 8 In B Minor, D 759, “Unfinished” – 2. Andante Con Moto
Composer: Georg Christoph Wagenseil
Date of Birth: 29 January 1715
Date of Death: 01 March 1777
Period/Era/Style: Early Classical
Contribution(s): Wagenseil was an Austrian composer.
He was born in Vienna, and became a favorite pupil of the Vienna court’s Kapellmeister, Johann Joseph Fux. Wagenseil himself composed for the court from 1739 to his death. He also held positions as harpsichordist and organist. His pupils included Johann Baptist Schenk (who was to teach Ludwig van Beethoven), and Marie Antoinette. He traveled little, and died in Vienna having spent most of his life there.
Wagenseil was a well-known musical figure in his day — both Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are known to have been familiar with his works. His early works are Baroque, while his later pieces are in the Classical style. He composed a number of operas, choral works, symphonies, concertos, chamber music and keyboard pieces.
Playlist of Examples:
Concerto in E-flat major for oboe & bassoon, WWV 345
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart
Date of Birth: 27 January 1756
Date of Death: 05 December 1791
Period/Era/Style: Late Classical
Contribution(s): Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.
Born in Salzburg, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35.
The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.
He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.
Music: Mozart’s Works by Köchel Numbers: These are selective video playlists of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, listed by assigned Köchel (KV) number. For a complete and chronologically ordered list, see Köchel catalogue.
Composer: Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (commonly abbreviated as E. T. A. Hoffmann; born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann
Date of Birth: 24 January 1776
Date of Death: 25 June 1822
Period/Era/Style: Classical / Romantic Transition
Contribution(s): Hoffmann was a Prussian Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach’s famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffmann appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumann’s Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmann’s character Johannes Kreisler.
Hoffmann’s stories highly influenced 19th-century literature, and he is one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.