Portrait: Johann Sebastian Bach, a German composer and musician

21 June 2023 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  8 minutes

Johann Sebastian Bach in 1746 by Elias Gottlob Haussmann © jsbach.net

Johann Sebastian Bach in 1746 by Elias Gottlob Haussmann © jsbach.net

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the Brandenburg Concertos; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations and The Well-Tempered Clavier; organ works such as the Schübler Chorales and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.   read more…

Portrait: Richard Wagner, composer, theatre director, polemicist, conductor

23 March 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

Wagner bust in Bayreuth © Schubbay/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wagner bust in Bayreuth © Schubbay/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas (or, as some of his mature works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).   read more…

Portrait: Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most important composers and pianists

22 July 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  9 minutes

Ludwig van Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler

Ludwig van Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist; his music is amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire, and he is one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music. His works span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music.   read more…

Portrait: Musician and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

27 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  11 minutes

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized.   read more…

Portrait: Johannes Brahms, composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period

25 March 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Hamburg, Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

Johannes Brahms in 1889 - New York Public Library - C. Brasch

Johannes Brahms in 1889 – New York Public Library – C. Brasch

Johannes Brahms was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna. His reputation and status as a composer are such that he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs” of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow.   read more…

Portrait: Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar

22 January 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

in 1882 by Gustav Adolf Schultze

in 1882 by Gustav Adolf Schultze

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889, at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.   read more…

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