Cramer, Johann Baptist

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Cramer, Johann Baptist

Cramer, Johann Baptist , famous German pianist and pedagogue, son of Wilhelm Cramer; b. Mannheim, Feb. 24, 1771; d. London, April 16, 1858. He was taken to London as an infant, and throughout his life regarded it as his home. He received a fine musical education, first from his father, then from Clementi (1783–84) and C.F. Abel (1785). He began to travel as a concert pianist in 1788; visited Vienna, where he met Beethoven (1799–1800); in later years (1835–45) spent considerable time as a teacher in Munich and Paris, finally returning to London. His greatest work is his piano method, Grosse Praktische Pianoforte Schule (1815) in five parts, the last of which, 84 Studies (op.50; later rev. and publ. as op.81, including 16 nouvelles etudes) is famous in piano pedagogy. Hans von Bulow made a selection of 50 studies from this collection, later revised and annotated in collections of 52 and 60; Henselt issued a different selection, with accompaniment of a second piano; other eds. of Cramer’s studies are by Coccius, Riemann, Pauer, Lack, and Lickl; 100 Progressive Etudes is also well known. Apart from his pedagogic collections, Cramer wrote nine piano concertos, over 50 piano sonatas, two piano quartets, two piano quintets, and numerous piano pieces of the salon type; but all these are quite forgotten, while his piano studies, with those of Czerny, maintained their value for more than a century. He first entered the music publishing business in 1805, as head of the firm Cramer & Keys; was in partnership with Samuel Chappell (1810–19). In 1824, together with R. Addison and T.F. Beale, Cramer established a music publishing house (now J.B. Cramer & Co., Ltd.), of which he was director until 1842; in 1844 Addison retired and was succeeded by W. Chappell, the firm then becoming Cramer, Beale & Chappell; after Cramer’s death in 1858, and Chappell’s retirement in 1861, G. Wood became Beale’s partner; about 1862 the firm began to devote much attention to the manufacture of pianos; on Beale’s death in 1863, Wood became sole director, continuing it successfully until his death in 1893, although devoting more consideration to piano manufacture than to music publishing. His two nephews succeeded him. In 1897 the firm became a limited company.


J. Pembaur, Die 84 Etuden von J.B. C; Anleitung zu grundlichem Studieren und Analysieren derselben (Leipzig, 1901);T. Schlesinger, J.B. C. und seine Klavier-Sonaten (Munich, 1928).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire