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Krumpholtz family [Krumpholz]locked

  • Anna Tuháčková,
  • C.F. Pohl,
  • Hans J. Zingel,
  • Barbara Garvey Jackson
  •  and Ursula M. Rempel

Bohemian family of musicians .

(1) Jean-Baptiste [Johann Baptist, Jan Křtitel] Krumpholtz

  • Anna Tuháčková

(b Prague, Aug 5, 1747; d Paris, Feb 19, 1790). Harpist, composer and instrument designer. He was born into an impoverished family which was in bond to the Bohemian counts Kinský. His father was a bandmaster to the count and taught his son the horn. With the installation of a new count in 1758 Krumpholtz was sent on a court stipend to study music in Vienna, with the understanding that he perfect his horn playing; the boy's decision to concentrate instead on the harp, his mother's instrument, later led to conflict with the count. From Vienna he went to Flanders and France with an uncle (who probably married the ‘Meyer’ often named as Krumpholtz's first wife), presumably as hornist in a regimental band. Returning to Prague in 1771, he met and impressed the violinist Václav Pichl and pianist F.X. Dušek, who sent him to Vienna with recommendations to Haydn and others. There in 1773, after a successful concert at the Burgtheater, Haydn took him on as a composition pupil and as solo harpist in Count Esterhazy's retinue.

In 1776, with Haydn's support, Krumpholtz undertook a long concert tour of Europe. He performed in Leipzig on a ‘harpe organisée’, probably the earliest of his attempted improvements to the instrument (a ‘harpe organisée’ was later marketed by Cousineau in Paris). Arriving in Metz, he worked intensively at further improvements for six months in the workshop of the instrument maker Christian Steckler, whose daughter Anne-Marie became his protégée (see (3) below). In 1777 he arrived in Paris to complete his tour, taking the girl with him. After a brief marriage (1778) to Marguérite Gilbert (daughter of the Parisian harp maker C. Gilbert) which ended in his wife's death in childbirth, Krumpholtz, who had now adopted the name Jean-Baptiste, married his young pupil. Three children were born to the couple, but by 1788 Anne-Marie had taken a lover, apparently the brilliant young pianist J.L. Dussek, with whom she soon eloped to London. Krumpholtz drowned himself in the Seine in 1790.

Krumpholtz was the most gifted and acclaimed harp virtuoso of the late 18th century and a prolific composer for the instrument. He is no less important for his efforts to perfect the harp. In 1785 the Parisian firm of Naderman family built an instrument to Krumpholtz's specification (described in the preface to his sonatas op.14), with 24 strings, eight of which were metal, and with an eighth pedal that opened five shutters in the resonator; the instrument was played by his wife before the Académie, who in 1787 wrote to Krumpholtz in recognition of its virtues. The instrument is now in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum. At the same concert Krumpholtz accompanied his wife on a ‘pianoforte contrabasse’, or ‘clavichorde à marteau’, made by Erard, again from his specifications. Other improvements by him were incorporated after his death into the Erard harp at the beginning of the 19th century, the prototype of the modern double-action harp.

Krumpholtz's concertos, sonatas and variations for harp, which appeared in Paris from about 1775 (many were later reprinted in London), became staples of the repertory and are still highly respected. They contributed to the instrument's rapidly evolving technique, taking increasing advantage of the modulatory possibilities of the new pedal harp at the same time as he was perfecting its mechanism. The variations combine idiomatic harp writing with fertile invention. Many of his later sonatas are programmatic. After his death a harp method, said to have been written by him for a German baroness, was published by J.M. Plane, together with a brief autobiography, as Principes pour la harpe (Paris, 1800/R).


published in Paris unless otherwise stated


Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz: Oeuvres choisies pour harpe, ed. M.-F. Thiernesse-Baux (Paris, c1982) [T-B]


2 hp concs., op.4 (c1777), no.2 ed. F. Schroeder (Adliswil, 1971)

2 hp concs., op.6 (c1777)

5me conc., hp, op.7 (c1778), ed. M. Zunovoy-Skai′ska (Moscow, 1962)

6me conc., hp, op.9 (c1785), ed. in T-B; 2 simphonies, hp, opt. acc. 2 vn, 2 hn, fl, b, op.11 (1787), ed. in T-B; 1 conc., arr. kbd, orch, in Storace's Collection of Original Harpsichord Music, ii (London, 1789)

Hp sonatas

6, acc. vn, op.1 (c1775)

4, acc. vn, db, 2 hn, op.3 (c1776), no.2 ed. in T-B; 6, nos.1–5 acc. vn/fl, op.8 (c1780), nos.1–4 ed. H. Avesian and P. Fischer (Vienna, VA, 1987), no.5 ed. S. Mildonian (New York, 1975), no.6 ed. in T-B; 1 in Recueil, op.10 (c1787) [see below]; 4 sonates non difficilles, opt. acc. vn, vc, op.12 (c1787), ed. A. Lawson (Ross, CA, 1970)

Collection de pièces de différens genres distribuées en 6 sonates, hp/pf, opp.13–14 (c1788) [4 with vn acc.], nos.1–4 ed. A. Lawson Aber (Ross, CA, 1974), no.6 ed. M.X. Johnstone (South Pasadena, CA, 1955)

4 sonates en forme de scènes de différens caractères, hp/pf, op.15 (c1788), 1 ed. H.J. Zingel (Mainz, 1966), 2 ed. in T-B; 4 sonates chantantes, opt. acc.: vn, b, op.16 (c1788), no.3 ed. in T-B; 3 sonates … dont la 1er en forme de scène, acc. vn, op.17 (c1789), no.1 ed. in T-B; 2 sonates en forme de scènes, hp/pf, op.18 (c1789), no.1 ed. A. Lawson Aber (Ross, CA, 1974)

Other works

Recueil de 12 préludes et petits airs, hp, op.2 (c1776), ed. in T-B; 2 duos, 2 hp/(hp, kbd), op.5 (c1777), also arr. as Simphonies concertantes, hp, acc. vn, fl, bn, 2 hn, db (c1777)

Recueil contenant différens petits airs variés, 1 sonate et 1 petit duo, 2 hps, op.10 (c1787)

Andante, hp, acc. vn, op.19 (c1789), arr. of J. Haydn: Sym., h I:53/II, ed. in T-B; several songs, sets of variations; pieces in several 18th-century anthologies

(2) Wenzel [Václav] Krumpholtz

  • C.F. Pohl, revised by Hans J. Zingel

(b ?Budenice, nr Zlonice, c1750; d Vienna, May 2, 1817). Violinist, brother of (1) Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz. After serving in the orchestra of Prince Esterházy he became a violinist at the court opera in Vienna (1796). His name is immortalized by his friendship with Beethoven, who is said to have laid aside much of his customary reserve with Krumpholtz. He was one of the first to recognize Beethoven's genius, and he inspired others with his own enthusiasm, as his friend Czerny mentioned. According to Ries, Krumpholtz gave Beethoven some instruction on the violin in Vienna. He also played the mandolin. Beethoven must have felt his death deeply, for on the following day he composed the ‘Gesang der Mönche’ woo104 (from Schiller's Wilhelm Tell) for three men's voices ‘in commemoration of the sudden and unexpected death of our Krumpholtz’. Wenzel's compositions include two works for solo violin (Abendunterhaltung, Vienna, n.d.; Eine Viertelstude für eine Violine, Vienna and Pest, n.d.), which demonstrate his awareness of the new Parisian style of violin playing, and a lied Das Blümchen der Liebe und Chloe.

(3) Anne-Marie Krumpholtz [née Steckler or Stekler]

  • Barbara Garvey Jackson and Ursula M. Rempel

(b Metz, Aug 10, 1766; d London, Nov 15, 1813). French harpist and composer. Thought to be the daughter of the harp maker Christian Steckler of Metz, she studied the harp with Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz, whom she married in 1783. She performed in Paris at the Concert Spirituel during the years 1779 to 1784. She is said to have eloped to England with an unknown lover, and was active there as a harpist in 1788. She continued to perform until 1803; her compositions continued to be published until shortly before her death. She played in her own benefit concerts and at Salomon's concerts, with Haydn, J.L. Dussek, Mme Mara, Sophia Corri (later Mme Dussek) and other great artists of the day. The reviewer of the Oracle (10 March 1792) wrote: ‘Mme Krumpholtz is without doubt the first Player we have’. She frequently performed J.L. Dussek's music for harp and piano with him, which may be why he has been proposed as the unknown lover, even though he did not go to London until 1789.

Her published music, all printed in London about 1810, comprises mostly fashionable harp arrangements of well-known tunes and themes and variations – enormously popular music which found a ready market as domestic music for young women. She apparently also composed serious sonatas.

Anne-Marie Krumpholtz died of apoplexy. Her daughter, Fanny Pittar, was also a composer who similarly composed short pieces for harp or piano (several published in London c1812–17). An autograph manuscript of her harp compositions, dated 1811 (GB-Lbl Add.49288; ed. U.M. Rempel, Chicago, 1994), contains 20 works, including waltzes, variations, marches, rondos and allegrettos, and several fragments. V. Krumpholtz, whose music for harp was published in London (Quadrille, c1820, and an arrangement of Le rantz des vaches, or Un souvenir des vallées suisses, c1825), may have been Fanny's younger sister.


  • F.G. Wegeler and F. Ries: Biographische Notizen über Ludwig van Beethoven (Koblenz, 1838/R, suppl. 1845/R; rev. 2/1906 by A.C. Kalischer; Eng. trans., 1987)
  • C.F. Pohl: Mozart und Haydn in London (Vienna, 1867/R)
  • H. Tribout de Morembert: Anne-Marie Steckler: une virtuose de la harpe au XVIIIe siècle (Metz, 1962)
  • W. Kolneder, ed. C. Czerny: Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (Strasbourg, 1968), 11ff
  • F. Vernillat: ‘La littérature de la harpe en France au XVIIIe siècle’, RMFC, 9 (1969), 162–85
  • U. Rempel: ‘Fanny Krumpholtz and her Milieu’, American Harp Journal, 5/4 (1976), 11–15
  • U. Rempel: ‘The Perils of Secondary Sources: an Annotated Bibliography of Encyclopedic and Dictionary Sources Relating to the Harpist Members of the Krumpholtz Family’, American Harp Journal, 7/3 (1980), 25–30
  • R. Rensch: Harps and Harpists (Bloomington, IN, 1989)
  • S.V. Klíma: ‘Hudebníci Václav a Jan Křtitel Krumpholzovi’, HRo, 46 (1993), 284–6
  • B. Garvey Jackson: ‘Say can you Deny me’: a Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th through the 18th Centuries (Fayetteville, AR, 1994)
  • U.M. Rempel: ‘Madame Krumpholtz’, ‘Fanny Krumpholtz Pittar’, Women Composers: Music Through the Ages, iii: Composers from 1700–1799: Keyboard Music, ed. M.F. Schleifer and S. Glickman (New York, 1998), 55–87, 263–77
  • M. Müller: Jan Křtitel Krumpholtz 1747–1790 (Prague, 1999)
Recherches sur la musique française classique
C. Pierre: Histoire du Concert spirituel 1725-1790 (Paris, 1975)
London, British Library
Hudební rozhledy