John Field

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

Biography: 1782–-1801: Early life   |   1802–1829: Settling in Russia   |   1830–1837: Last years and death


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Franz Xaver Mozart

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
Nationality: Austrian
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.”


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Gioachino Rossini

Composer: Gioachino Antonio Rossini
Date of Birth:  29 February 1792
Date of Death: 13 November 1868
Nationality: Italian
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 TancrediOtello, and SemiramideThe 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.

Biography: Early life   |   Education   |   Career as a composer   |   Early years: Demetrio e Polibio (1812) to Torvaldo e Dorliska (1815)   |   Resounding success of The Barber of Seville (1816)   |   Middle years: La gazzetta (1816) to Semiramide (1823)   |   Composing for Paris: Il viaggio a Reims (1825) to Guillaume Tell (1829)   |   In Paris: the later years   |  Legacy: Honors and tributes   |   Edmond Michotte fund   |   Rossiniana   |   Music

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Carl Czerny

Composer: Carl Czerny
Date of Birth: 21 February 1791
Date of Death: 15 July 1857
Nationality: Austrian
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:

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • 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

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Franz Schubert

Composer: Franz Peter Schubert
Date of Birth: 31 January 1797
Date of Death: 19 November 1828
Nationality: German
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.

Biography   |   Early life and education   |   Teacher at his father’s school   |   Supported by friends   |    Musical maturity  |   Last years and masterworks   |   Final illness and death   |   Music   |   Style   |   Instrumental music, stage works and church music   |   Lieder and art songs   |   Publication – catalogue   |   Complete editions   |   Deutsch catalogue   |   Numbering issues   |   Recognition   |   Tributes by other musicians   |   Commemorations   |   Portrayal in film  |   Filmography

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 flat major
Symphony No. 8 in B minor – Unfinished
Moment Musical Op. 94 D 780
“Polonaise” in B flat major D 580
Piano sonata n. 19 in B flat D 960
Scherzo No. 1
“Rosamunde” Intermezzo in B flat major
Ave Maria
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 Flat, 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)
7. Standchen
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 Flat
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 Flat, 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

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E. T. A. Hoffmann

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
Nationality: Prussian
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.

Biography: Life: Youth   |   The provinces   |   Warsaw   |   Berlin and Bamberg   |   Dresden and Leipzig   |   Berlin

 Playlist of Examples:

 

 Playlist Tracklist:

  • Overture: Dirna, Melodrama (1809)
  • Overture: Das Kreuz an der Ostsee, Trauerspiel, first performance 1805.
  • Symphony in Eb major (1806)
  • Overture: Der Trank der Unsterblichkeit, romantic opera, first performance 1808.
  • Overture: Liebe und Eifersucht, singspiel in three acts, first performance 1807.
  • Miserere in B♭ minor (1809)
  • Keyboard Sonata in C# minor
  • Harp Quintet in C Minor, AV 24
  • Keyboard Sonata in A Major, AV 22
  • Keyboard Sonata in F Minor, AV 27
  • Piano Trio in E Major, AV 52

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Gaetano Donizetti

Composer: Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti
Date of Birth: 29 November 1797
Date of Death: 08 April 1848
Nationality: Italian
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic transition, bel canto
Contribution(s): Donietti was an Italian composer. 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).

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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Conradin Kreutzer

Composer: Conradin Kreutzer (or Kreuzer)
Date of Birth: 22 November 1780
Date of Death: 4 December 1849
Nationality: German
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic transition
Contribution(s): Kreuzer was a German composer and conductor. His works include the opera Das Nachtlager in Granada, and Der Verschwender (Incidental music), both produced in 1834 in Vienna.

Biography: Kreutzer abandoned his studies in the law (University of Freiburg) and went to Vienna about 1804, where he met Joseph Haydn and may have studied with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, while he tried his hand unsuccessfully at singspielen. He spent 1811–12 in Stuttgart, where at least three of his operas were staged and he was awarded the post of Hofkapellmeister. He was from 1812 to 1816 Kapellmeister to the king of Württemberg. Once he was successful, he became a prolific composer, and wrote a number of operas for the Theater am Kärntnertor, Theater in der Josefstadt and Theater an der Wien Vienna, which have disappeared from the stage.

In 1840 he became conductor of the opera at Cologne. His daughters, Cecilia and Marie Kreutzer, were sopranos of some renown.

Kreutzer owes his fame almost exclusively to Das Nachtlager in Granada (1834), which kept the stage for half a century in spite of changes in musical taste. It was written in the style of Carl Maria von Weber. The same qualities are found in Kreutzer’s part-songs for men’s voices, which at one time were extremely popular in Germany. Among these “Das ist der Tag des Herrn” (“The Lord’s Day”) may be named as the most excellent. His Septet for winds and strings, Op. 62, remains in the chamber music repertory. He was one of the 50 composers who wrote a Variation on a waltz of Anton Diabelli for Part II of the “Vaterländischer Künstlerverein” (published 1824).

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Johann Nepomuk Hummel

Composer: Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Date of Birth: 14 November 1778
Date of Death: 17 October 1837
Nationality: Austian
Period/Era/Style: Classical era/Romantic transition
Contribution(s): Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era.

Biography: Life   |   Influence   |   Music   |   Last years and legacy   |   Personality

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