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Cannabich, prominent family of German musicians:

(1) Martin Friedrich Cannabich, flutist and composer; b. c. 1675; d. after 1759. He was a member of the Mannheim Court Orch., and also flute teacher to the Elector Carl Theodor. He was one of the earliest composers of the Mannheim school. Among his publ, works were Six Solos for a German Flute, Violin or Harpsichord (London, c. 1740) and a vol. of six flute sonatas (Paris, 1751).

(2) (Johann) Christian (Innocenz Bonaventura) Cannabich, distinguished violinist, conductor, teacher, and composer, son of the preceding; b. Mannheim (baptized), Dec. 28, 1731; d. Frankfurt am Main, Jan. 20, 1798. He studied with Johann Stamitz and was admitted to the Mannheim Court Orch. as a “scholar” when he was only 12; by the time he was 16 he was a full- fledged member of the orch. In 1750 he was sent by the Elector to study with Jommelli in Rome. After a sojourn in Stuttgart with his teacher (1753–54), he went to Milan. Returning to Mannheim, he was court ballet composer and maestro de’ concerti by 1758. He made visits to Paris in 1764, 1766, and 1772, appearing in the latter year at the Concert Spirituel. In 1774 he was appointed court director of instrumental music and was given complete charge of the Mannheim Court Orch. Under his discerning guidance, it reached unprecedented renown. In 1778 he moved with the court to Munich, where he added most of the Mannheim players to the Munich Court Orch. During the last years of his life, the court musical establishment was cut back and Cannabich found it necessary to tour as a concert violinist in order to supplement his income. Mozart was befriended by Cannabich, and was the piano teach of Cannabich’s daughter, for whom he composed his sonata, K.284b/309. Cannabich was highly influential as a violin teacher, and is generally regarded as the father of the Mannheim violin style. As a conductor, he developed the method of even bowing. His extensive output as a composer reveals him to have been a skillful craftsman in the galant style of the era. Among his works were the operas Azakia (Mannheim, 1778) and Le croisée (Paris, 1778), the melodrama Elektra (Mannheim, Sept. 4, 1781), about 40 ballets, some 100 syms., two flute concertos, a Keyboard Concerto, and much chamber music.


H. Hofer, C. C: Biographie und vergleichende Analyse seiner Sinfonien (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1921); R. Kloiber, Die dramatischen Bollette von C. C. (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1928).

(3) Carl (Konrad) Cannabich, violinist and composer, son of the preceding; b. Mannheim (baptized), Oct. 11, 1771; d. Munich, May 1, 1806. After studies with his father, he was a pupil in Munich of Friedrich Eck (violin) and Joseph Gràtz (composition). In 1778 he became a violinist in the Munich Court Orch. under his father. After serving as conductor in Frankfurt am Main in 1796, he became Konzertmeister of the Munich Court Orch. in 1798. In 1800 he was made court music director in Munich. His works reveal the influence of Mozart.


DRAMATIC: Opera: Orfeo (Munich, 1802); Palmer und Amalie (Munich, Aug. 1803). orch.: Sym.; 3 violin concertos; 2 concertos for 2 Violins and Orch.; Rondeau varie for Violin and Orch. keyboard: piano: Several pieces, including a Sonata. vocal:Mozarts Gedaechtnis Feyer seinen Manen gewidmet for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1797); choruses; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire