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William Drabkin, Joseph Kerman and Alan Tyson

Reviser Douglas Johnson and Scott G. Burnham

(b Bonn, bap. Dec 17, 1770; d Vienna, March 26, 1827).German composer. His early achievements, as composer and performer, show him to be extending the Viennese Classical tradition that he had inherited from Mozart and Haydn. As personal affliction – deafness, and the inability to enter into happy personal relationships – loomed larger, he began to compose in an increasingly individual musical style, and at the end of his life he wrote his most sublime and profound works. From his success at combining tradition and exploration and personal expression, he came to be regarded as the dominant musical figure of the 19th century, and scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence or failed to acknowledge it. For the respect his works have commanded of musicians, and the popularity they have enjoyed among wider audiences, he is probably the most admired composer in the history of Western music....

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(b Bologna, fl 1716–67). Italian singer. She is referred to in some programmes as Ferrarese – perhaps through confusion with her father, the bass Francesco Belisani – but is the ‘Belisania’ mentioned in the celebrated frontispiece of Marcello’s Il teatro alla moda. She sang in ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(fl 1772–98). Italian soprano. She was prima buffa in the Italian opera company at the King’s Theatre, London, in the 1786–7 season, when Burney found her singing ‘extremely graceful and pleasing’, and she substituted for Mara in Tarchi’s serious opera Virginia. She had been singing in Italy since ...

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Ronald R. Kidd

(d ?London, Dec 3, 1785). German pianist and composer, active in England. On the recommendation of J.C. Bach, who may have suggested he go to England, he taught music to members of the English court, including the young Mrs Papendiek, who reported that he was ‘an excellent master on Bach’s plan but could not give you any sentiment for the science’ (Broughton). He was also the first teacher of the piano virtuoso J.B. Cramer and was probably the ‘Mr Benser’ listed as a violist in Burney’s account of the ...

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Christopher Raeburn

(bc1745; d Florence, April 5, 1824). Italian bass. He sang at Pistoia in 1769, then more widely in Italy, appearing as the leading character buffo in Venice (1778–9), and singing in Milan (1779–82) with great success and in Rome (...

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(b Hlukhiv, 16/Oct 27, 1745; d St Petersburg, 24 March/April 4, 1777). Ukrainian composer and singer. The scantly documented facts of his life have to be gleaned from early biographies and contemporary accounts of performances in St Petersburg and Italy. He began his musical training early, possibly at the Hlukhiv choir school, a source of many singers for the St Petersburg court, or at the Kiev Academy. He reportedly began composing three- and four-part motets when still a boy. On his arrival in St Petersburg, probably in the first half of ...

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Robert Münster

(b Stuttgart, c1741; d ?Vienna, 1803). German soprano. She was the daughter of a valet of the Duke of Württemberg. By her widowed mother's second marriage in 1743, she became the stepdaughter of Andrea Bernasconi, who instructed her in singing. Her successful début followed on ...

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(b Paris, c1752; d St Petersburg, 19 or March 20, 1802). French violinist and composer. The nephew and pupil of the violinist Lemière l’aîné, he was a child prodigy whose performances of his own works and those of Gaviniès, Lolli and Felice Giardini caused a sensation at 19 appearances at the Concert Spirituel during the years ...

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Elizabeth Keitel and Bernard Bardet

(b Versailles, April 10, 1733; d Versailles, Aug 24, 1785). French violinist, flautist, musette player and composer, son of (Michel-)Gabriel Besson. He was given the reversion of his father's appointments as a member of the 24 Violons du Roi, musette player and flautist of the Chamber in ...

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Dennis Libby

(b ?Venice, c1735; d after 1790). Italian soprano. She made her opera seria début as ultima parte at Parma in 1753 and sang mostly secondary roles, sometimes appearing in opera buffa, before going to Vienna as prima donna in 1762, where she created Eurydice in Gluck’s ...

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Sven Hansell

(b Milan, 1758; d after 1816). Italian singer and composer. He began a career as a baritone in Milan and Genoa and may have sung in Paris in the 1780s. Touring Germany in the early 1790s, he became court singer to the Prince of Nassau Weilburg and sang at the Berlin Königliches Nationaltheater from ...

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Alfred Loewenberg

(fl London, 1780–82). Italian conductor and composer. He was music director at the King’s Theatre, London, succeeding Bertoni, for the seasons 1780–81 and 1781–2. He added arias to several pasticcios and, with Rauzzini and Tommaso Giordani, composed L’omaggio di paesani al signore de contado...

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Chappell White

(b Pesaro, June 21, 1716; d Pesaro, April 1770). Italian violinist and composer. He evidently attracted patronage at an early age, for when he was 15 years old Cardinal Olivieri sent him to Padua to study with Tartini. He remained there for more than three years and then went to Rome, where he played so well that rumour credited his success with causing the death from embarrassment of the violinist Montanari. Bini soon returned to Padua for more study, however, having heard that Tartini had changed his style. His admiration for Tartini was returned by the teacher, who spoke of no other pupil except Nardini in such complimentary terms. On Bini’s return to Rome a year later, Tartini wrote recommending him to an English patron: ‘He plays better than I do, and I am proud of it, for he is an angel in morals and religion’....

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Roger Fiske

(fl late 18th century). Irish ballet dancer and composer. He is probably the ‘Riccardo Bleck’ described as newly hired who danced at Florence in 1763. He composed a ballet in Parma in 1776 and several for Venice in 1777–8 when librettos refer to him as in the service of the Duke of Parma. He appeared again in Florence both as dancer and composer of ballets in ...

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Deanne Arkus Klein

(b Lauterbourg, Alsace (now Bas-Rhin), April 24, 1758; d Versailles, 1829). French conductor, composer and instrumentalist. He received music instruction from his father, Johann Michael Blasius, and from a Herr Stadt, and between 1780 and 1782 was employed by the Bishop of Strasbourg, Prince Louis-René-Edouard de Rohan. He first performed in Paris as a violinist, playing his own concerto at the Concert Spirituel in ...

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Richard Taruskin

(b Austria or Bohemia, 1770; d Kiev, c1812). Russian composer and conductor of Czech birth. In 1799–1800 he was music director at the Petrovsky Theatre, Moscow. Later he entered the service of Count Komburley, provincial governor of Volhynia, where he spent the remainder of his life. In addition to some violin music and two symphonies (op.1, Moscow, ...

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Gabriella Biagi Ravenni

(b Lucca, Feb 5, 1742; d after 1798). Italian librettist, dancer and choreographer. A brother of Luigi Boccherini, he made his début as a dancer in Venice in 1757, but his major successes were achieved in Vienna between 1759 and 1767 (for example, Noverre’s revived ...

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Böck  

Horace Fitzpatrick and Thomas Hiebert

German family of horn players and composers. The two brothers, Ignaz (b Stadtamhof, nr Regensburg, 1754; d Vienna, after 1815) and Anton (b Stadtamhof, 1757; d Vienna, after 1815), Böck were among the leading horn duettists of the late 18th century. By the age of ten both brothers were studying with Joseph Vogel, a horn player at the court of Thurn und Taxis. In ...

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Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(b Glinno, nr Poznań, April 9, 1757; d Warsaw, July 23, 1829). Polish impresario, librettist, actor and singer. He was a central figure in the history of the Polish theatre. He studied in Kraków (1770–73), where he attended many theatrical and concert performances organized by Sierakowski, prompting him to change the direction of his career away from the army and towards the theatre. He probably completed his studies at the Piarist school in Warsaw. For a few months during ...

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Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(b eastern Małopolska, 1740; d Vienna, Feb 23, 1817). Polish composer and violinist. In 1775 he settled in Vienna, and for about 40 years worked as first violinist in the orchestra of the Leopoldstadt theatre; between 1785 and 1791 he also played the viola in the orchestra of the Tonkünstler-Societät. Together with his family (his wife and eight children) between ...