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Joel Sachs

revised by Mark Kroll

(b Pressburg [now Bratislava], Nov 14, 1778; d Weimar, Oct 17, 1837). Austrian pianist, composer, teacher and conductor. He was considered in his time to be one of Europe’s greatest composers and perhaps its greatest pianist.

Hummel was a prodigy; he is described as having been more advanced at three than most children twice his age. According to Hummel’s father Johannes, a string player and conductor, his son could read music at four, and at five play the violin and piano, and sing with perfect intonation. In 1786, when Hummel was eight, the family moved to Vienna, where Johannes became music director of the Theater auf der Wieden. He later became the music director of Vienna’s Apollo-Tanzsaal.

Hummel made rapid progress as a pianist, becoming a pupil of Mozart at some point in 1786. As Johannes tells us, Mozart was so impressed by the young prodigy that he taught him free of charge; and as was often the arrangement at the time, Hummel lived with the Mozarts and became a de facto member of the family. He played billiards with Mozart and tried out his teacher’s newest compositions, and the pair were often seen together on the streets of Vienna. While living at the Mozarts’ Hummel also had the opportunity to meet, or at least observe, the distinguished guests who frequently visited the Mozart household during this period. These included Lorenzo da Ponte and none other than Haydn, who would sometimes come over to read through string quartets, with Mozart playing viola, Vanhal the cello and von Dittersdorf the second violin....


Judith Leah Schwartz

[Johann; Georg Matthias]

(b Vienna, April 9, 1717; d Vienna, Oct 3, 1750). Austrian composer. The elder son of a coachman, Jakob Mann, and Catherina Päsching Mann, he was baptized Johann Georg but used the names Matthias Georg instead, possibly to avoid confusion with his younger brother Johann Christoph Monn. His preferred spelling, ‘Monn’, may be understood as a Lower Austrian dialect version of the family name Mann. He apparently sang in the choir at Klosterneuburg monastery in 1731–2 and at an early age (but not before 1738) became organist at the new Karlskirche in Vienna. There is little to support Gerber’s assertion that Monn was ‘Hoforganist’ at Melk Abbey or that he gave J.G. Albrechtsberger his first lessons in thoroughbass there. Albrechtsberger’s alleged reverence for Monn as a teacher (described by Sonnleithner) has not been proved, but a surviving set of thoroughbass exercises by Monn ( A-Wn 19101) suggests that he devoted part of his career to teaching....


Theophil Antonicek

revised by Jennifer Williams Brown

(b Venice, c1653; d Vienna, Jan 22, 1715). Italian composer, partly active in Austria, nephew of Pietro Andrea Ziani. Towards the end of the 17th century he was a leading composer of opera for Venice, and he was a major figure at the imperial court in Vienna early in the 18th century.

The most important influence on Ziani's early life was probably his uncle, with whom he may have studied. Certainly Pietro Andrea's reputation and connections, particularly in Venice and Vienna, must have aided Ziani throughout his life. Marc’Antonio began his career as an opera composer in 1674 by adapting older works for the Venetian stage. In 1677 he acted as an intermediary for his uncle (who was in Naples) during negotiations with S Marco concerning the latter's post as first organist; after Pietro Andrea resigned, Marc’Antonio boldly applied for the position, but was passed over. Pietro Andrea may have arranged for his nephew's first opera, ...


Margaret Grave and Jay Lane

[Ditters, Carl]

(b Vienna, Nov 2, 1739; d Neuhof [now Nový Dvůr], nr Sobĕslav, Bohemia, Oct 24, 1799). Austrian composer and violinist. After promising early success in Vienna, he settled for a modest career as a provincial Kapellmeister and administrator. He composed voluminously despite the official responsibilities that occupied him for much of his life, and his generally high standard of craftsmanship earned him recognition as a leading figure of the Viennese Classical school.

Born to Paul Ditters, costumier at the imperial court and theatre in Vienna, and his wife Anna (née Vandelin), Ditters enjoyed the benefits of a Jesuit school education, private tutoring and, from the age of seven, violin lessons. About 1750 he began studies with the violinist J.P. Ziegler, and before long he was accepted into the orchestra of the Schottenkirche. Soon afterwards he was recruited as a Kammerknabe by Prince Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, whose Kapelle was one of the best in Vienna; from ...