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Johann Nepomuk Hummel 1778-1837

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Arnold1740-1802 Gluck1714-1787
Beethoven 1770-1827  
Boccherini1743-1805 Haydn1732-1809
Clementi1752-1832 Hummel1778-1837
Czerny1794-1857 Mozart1756-1791
Diabelli1781-1858 Rossini1792-1868
Dussek1760-1812 Schubert1797-1828
Field1782-1837 Weber1786-1826


Johann Nepomuk Hummel was on of the great virtuoso pianists of his day.

He also wrote 8 piano concertos,10 piano sonata 8 piano trios, 1 piano quartet, 1 piano quintet, a wind octet,a cello concerto,2 piano septets,a concerto and a sonata for mandolin,a trumpet concerto, piano duets,22 operas, singspiels and masses.

In his writing he challenged the classical harmonic structures and further stretched the sonata form. Hummel's influence can also be seen in the early works of Chopin and Schumann. In fact Chopin kept Hummel's piano concertos in his concert repertoire.

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Hummel was born in Pressburg, in Hungary.His father, Josef Hummel was the director of the Imperial School of Military Music in Vienna and the conductor there of Schianeder's Theater Orchestra; his mother was Slovak.

  Mozart offered the boy music lessons at the age of 8 after being impressed with his ability. Hummel was taught and housed by Mozart for 2 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 led him on a European tour, arriving in London, where he received instruction from Muzio Clementi and 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 for Hummel, who played its premiere 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  caused Hummel to cancel a planned tour through Spain and France. Instead he returned to Vienna giving concerts along his route. Upon Hummel's return to Vienna he was taught by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Joseph Haydn, and Antonio Salieri.

At about this time, young Ludwig van Beethoven arrived in Vienna and took lessons from Haydn and Albrechtsberger, becoming a fellow student and a friend. Beethoven's arrival was said to have nearly destroyed Hummel's self-confidence, though he recovered without much harm. Despite the fact that Hummel's friendship with Beethoven was often marked by ups and downs, the mutual friendship developed into reconciliation and respect.

Before Beethoven's death, Hummel visited him in Vienna on several occasions. Following Beethoven's wishes, Hummel improvised at the great man's memorial concert. It was at this event that Hummel became good friends with Franz Schubert. Schubert dedicated his last three piano sonatas to Hummel. However, since both composers were dead by the time of the sonatas' first publication, the publishers changed the dedication to Robert Schumann, who was still active at the time.

In 1804, Hummel succeeded Haydn as Kapellmeister to Prince Esterházy's establishment at Eisenstadt. He held this post for seven years before being dismissed for neglecting his duties. Following this, he toured Russia and Europe and married the opera singer Elisabeth Röckel. They had two sons.

Hummel later held the position of Kapellmeister at Stuttgart and Weimar, where he formed a close friendship with Goethe and Schiller, colleagues from the Weimar theater. During Hummel's stay in Weimar, he made the city into a European musical capital, inviting the best musicians of the day to visit and make music there.

He started one of the first pension programs for fellow musicians, giving benefit concert tours when the musicians' retirement fund ran low. In addition, Hummel was one of the first to fight for musical copyrights against intellectual pirating.




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