Spohr, Louis [Ludewig, Ludwig]
- Clive Brown
(b Brunswick, April 5, 1784; d Kassel, Oct 22, 1859). German composer, violinist and conductor.
Regarded by many contemporaries as worthy of a place beside Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in the pantheon of the greatest composers, he has, together with Gluck and Cherubini, been allotted a considerably lower status by posterity. Mozart's Figaro and Wagner's Tristan were both composed during Spohr's lifetime; his own work looks, Janus-like, towards both the formalism and clarity of the Classical tradition, and the structural and harmonic experimentation associated with 19th-century Romanticism.
Spohr was born into a family which had been active in the vicinity of the Harz mountains, particularly as doctors and pastors, for at least five generations. Both his grandfathers were Lutheran pastors, but his father, Carl Heinrich Spohr (1756–1843), who married a cousin, Juliane Ernestine Luise Henke (1763–1840) on 26 November 1782, had reverted to his family's earlier profession of medicine. Their first child, born a year and a half later, was christened Ludewig, but in accordance with fashionable French taste he was always known as Louis. At that time Carl Heinrich was practising in Brunswick, but in ...