Ignaz Moscheles (23.05.1794–10.03.1870)
Ignaz Moscheles was a pianist, composer, conductor and piano teacher and is counted among the most famous musicians of the 19th century. He lived in Leipzig from 1846 until his death.
Ignaz [Isaak] Moscheles was born in Prague on May 24th, 1794 as the son of Jewish parents. His father Moses Joachim, a merchant, trained him in singing and guitar. He took piano lessons from teachers Zahrádka and Hozalsky. From 1804 to 1808 he was taught by organist and composer F. D. Weber, who later became the director of the newly founded conservatory in Prague. Moscheles played Mozart’s compositions masterfully and started to compose himself at the age of eight. He performed his compositions at public concerts. Encouraged by his success, the family moved to Vienna in 1808 to be able to give the gifted young musician an education under J.G. Albrechtsberger and A. Salieri. Here he enjoyed great popularity and competed with Giacomo Meyerbeer who also was an excellent virtuoso pianist. Moscheles was particularly impressed by meeting L. v. Beethoven, who called him a friend in his letters. Beethoven commissioned him to arrange a piano score for his opera Fidelio. Aside from that, Moscheles published works by Beethoven and translated the Beethoven biography of A. F. Schindler into English.
While based in Vienna, he went on concert tours from 1810 to 1820 which brought him to Germany, France, England, the Netherlands and Austria. In 1821 he was appointed professor in London to teach at the Royal Academy of Music and to conduct at the Royal Philharmonic Society. Here he met famous pianists such as M. Clementi, J. Field, F. W. Kalkbrenner and J. B. Cramer and went on tour in Central and Western Europe. In 1824 he met the Mendelssohn family in Berlin.
In 1825 Moscheles married Charlotte Emden and moved with her to London. They had four children and named their only son Felix, to the delight of his later godfather Mendelssohn. Both used their concert tours to visit each other in Berlin and London, and later in Leipzig. Countless musicians belonged to Moscheles’ circle of friends, such as F. Chopin, F. Liszt, J. N. Hummel and C. and R. Schumann. Robert Schumann regularly reviewed Moscheles’ compositions and performances in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal of Music).
In 1845 thanks to Mendelssohn’s endeavours Moscheles was summoned to the Leipzig Conservatory which was founded in 1843 as the first one in Germany. In October 1846 he moved with his family to Leipzig and taught the piano class at the conservatory.
On March 10th, 1870 the “chamber virtuoso of His Highness Prince Paul Esterhazy” and “honorary member of the London Royal Academy of Music” died in Leipzig.
2. Private Life
In 1824 he went on tour to Berlin, where he visited the Mendelssohn family for the first time. Lea Mendelssohn asked the virtuoso to give her children Fanny and Felix piano lessons. The schooling only lasted for a short period of time since both children already were quite experienced and were rather far in their development so that Moscheles was not able to teach them anything new, especially not what they only could learn through practice. From then on Moscheles built a close and cordial friendship with Felix, who was 16 years younger
In January 1825 he went on tour to Hamburg. During his concert in the Apollo-Hall, Charlotte Emden sat in the audience and they became acquainted during the following days. They got married shortly afterwards on March 1st. The couple had four children: Emily, Serena, Clara and Felix. Ignaz Moscheles often travelled, wrote letters to his family nearly daily and noted details with care. Charlotte Moscheles published a biography in two volumes composed of this correspondence as well as his diaries.
After the Moscheles family moved to Leipzig in 1846 Moscheles and Mendelssohn kept close contact. But their joy only lasted for a short while before Mendelssohn died after a seriousness illness on November 4th of the following year. In his diary Moscheles meticulously noted the final days of his friend and their friends’ condolences.
Moscheles was said to have an overall optimistic attitude towards life which his family also shared, especially his grandchildren.
3. Connection to Leipzig
In the autumn of 1816 Moscheles visited Leipzig for the first time. He went to concerts, saw the St. Thomas Choir, met St. Thomas cantor Schicht and the piano expert F. Wieck. His first piano recital, including the Alexander Variations, received an enthusiastic reception. In the years from 1824 onwards (1826, 1832, 1835, 1845) he performed in concerts at the Gewandhaus, intensified his contacts with artists, music dealers and publishers, and attended theatre performances
In 1846 Moscheles became professor of piano at the Leipzig Conservatory. He moved from London to Leipzig with his family and lived in Gerhards Garten. From 1853 to 1870 his residence was at Dresdner Strasse 28 (today no. 17).
During this time, famous musicians such as M. Hauptmann, F. David, N. Gade, C. F. Becker and M. Klengel worked at the conservatory. The Schumanns already had moved to Dresden in 1844.
After Mendelssohn’s death in 1847 and according to his friend’s wishes, Moscheles kept on teaching at the conservatory. His reputation as an open-minded and dutiful teacher persisted. He taught countless students; among the most famous are Z. Fibich, A. Sullivan and E. Grieg.
As can be read in his letters, Moscheles was very interested in the musical life of Leipzig and discussed compositions and performances. He welcomed countless famous musicians to his home, such as A. Rubinstein, and Th. Täglichsbeck as well as young musical talents from Germany, England and America.
Even though he did not want to give public performances anymore, he agreed to play in the concert of the orchestra pension fund. On December 19th, 1861 he played together with Clara Schumann and C. Reinecke the Concerto in C major for Three Keyboards by J. S. Bach – the piece’s first performance in the Gewandhaus –with great emotionalsympathy.
Moscheles’ artistic output was shaped by his pianistic brilliance during the first half of his life. While on tour he was frequently admired for his virtuosity. His own compositions and improvisations are mostly inspired by his piano playing. His compositions are catalogued under 142 opus numbers, mostly piano works. Besides a number of virtuoso and salon pieces he wrote eight piano concertos, one symphony, one overture, countless pieces of chamber music and songs (Lieder).
His Alexander Variations op. 32 gained him great fame in 1815. Of his piano concertos the 2nd in E Flat Major op. 56 and the 3rd in G minor op. 58 are quite famous.
Countless classical etudes such as op. 70 and op. 95 were examples of piano studies, as well as the manual of exercises for the piano Méthode des Méthodes de piano op. 98, published together with M. Fétis in 1840. Among his piano pieces is the duo for two pianos Hommage à Händel in G Major op. 92, which he played together with F. Mendelssohn at the Gewandhaus.
In the Czech folk song To Gsau Kône op. 46 he processed his relationship to his homeland. His last compositions, 3 Charakterstücke (Three Character Pieces) op. 142 for two pianos date from 1869.
Alexander Variations op. 32 (1815)
Piano Concertos No. 2 in E Flat Major op. 56 (1815) and No. 3 in G Minor op. 58 (1820)
Overture on Schiller’s The Maid of Orleans (1828)
Countless etudes e.g. op. 70 (1826) and op. 95 (1836)
Manual of exercises for the piano Méthode des Méthodes de piano op.98 (1840)
Duo for two pianos Hommage à Händel in G Major op. 92 (1835)
Furthermore, chamber music and solo songs accompanied by the piano
The compositions of Moscheles are listed in an index and can be looked up thematically, chronologically or by opus number.1
Klavierkonzert Nr. 3 g-Moll op. 58 (1820) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmILM1ruuFE
Ouvertüre zu Schillers Jungfrau von Orleans (1828) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5X7hylQjYc
Duo für 2 Klaviere Hommage à Händel G-Dur op. 92 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa4uchoRX0Q
6. Sources and Links
Dörffel, Alfred: Geschichte Der Gewandhausconcerte zu Leipzig. Vom 25. November 1781 bis 25. November 1881, Dresden 2014.
Hader, Widmar (ed.): Lexikon zur deutschen Musikkultur. Böhmen, Mähren, Sudetenschlesien, Langen/Müller 2000.
Moscheles, Charlotte (ed.): Moscheles‘ Leben nach Briefen und Tagebüchern, Dunker & Humboldt 1872/1873.
Moscheles, Felix (ed.): Briefe von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy an Ignaz und Charlotte Moscheles, unchanged reprint of the edition of 1888, Kessinger Verlag 2009.
Moscheles, Ignaz: Thematisches Verzeichnis im Druck erschienener Compositionen (reprint), London 1966.
Mundus, Doris (ed.): Carl Reinecke. Erlebnisse und Bekenntnisse. Autobiographie eines Gewandhauskapellmeisters, Lehmstedt Verlag 2005.
Ignaz Moscheles. Grafik von Hermann Scherenberg, Illustrirte Zeitung, Bd. 54 (1870), S. 241.Quelle: Wikipedia, gemeinfrei