Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2013/11/14

“November 14, 1778” by Rick Sanders

In 1778, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, the Austrian pianist and composer is born. He later dies in 1837. Of Hummel, Wikipedia says:

Hummel was born in Pressburg, Kingdom of Hungary, then a part of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy (now Bratislava in Slovakia). His father, Johannes Hummel,[1] was the director of the Imperial School of Military Music in Vienna and the conductor there of Emanuel Schikaneder‘s theatre orchestra at the Theater auf der Wieden; his mother, Margarethe Sommer Hummel, was the widow of the wigmaker Josef Ludwig. He was named after St John of Nepomuk. At the age of eight, he was offered music lessons by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was impressed with his ability. Hummel was taught and housed by Mozart for two years free of charge and made his first concert appearance at the age of nine at one of Mozart’s concerts.

Hummel’s father then took him on a European tour, arriving in London where he received instruction from Muzio Clementi and where he stayed for four years before returning to Vienna. In 1791 Joseph Haydn, who was in London at the same time as young Hummel, composed a sonata in A-flat major for Hummel, who gave its first performance in the Hanover Square Rooms in Haydn’s presence. When Hummel finished, Haydn reportedly thanked the young man and gave him a guinea.

Hummel in 1814

The outbreak of the French Revolution and the following Reign of Terror caused Hummel to cancel a planned tour through Spain and France. Instead, he returned to Vienna, giving concerts along his route. Upon his return to Vienna he was taught by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Joseph Haydn, and Antonio Salieri.

Hummel was also a friend to Beethoven. From All Music.com we read:

Two years later he married Elizabeth Röckel. Late the following year, at his wife’s behest, he launched a concert tour in Vienna, scoring triumph after triumph. He subsequently toured Germany and Europe with great success, sometimes also assuming the role of conductor.

Hummel accepted the Kapellmeister posts in Stuttgart (1816) and Weimar (1819). This was a most productive period for him, as many of his best works appeared, including the Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 83 (1819), the Sonata in A Flat, for piano four hands, Op. 92 (1820), and two “birthday” cantatas for the Duke (1823 and 1827). By 1832, Hummel’s health was in decline, and he frequently took leave of his Kapellmeister duties in Weimar because of sickness. He died on October 17, 1837.

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