Flotow, Friedrich (Adolf Ferdinand) Von

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Flotow, Friedrich (Adolf Ferdinand) Von

Flotow, Friedrich (Adolf Ferdinand) von, famous German opera composer; b. Teutendorf, April 27, 1813; d. Darmstadt, Jan. 24, 1883. He was a scion of an old family of nobility. He received his first music lessons from his mother, then was a chorister in Giistrow. At the age of 16 he went to Paris, where he entered the Cons, to study piano with J.P. Pixis and composition with Reicha. After the revolution of 1830, he returned home, where he completed his first opera, Pierre et Catherine, set to a French libretto; it was premiered in a German tr. in Ludwigslust in 1835. Returning to Paris, he collaborated with the Belgian composer Albert Grisar on the operas Lady Melvil (1838) and L’Eau merveilleuse (1839). With the composer Auguste Pilati, he composed the opera Le Naufrage de la Meduse (Paris, May 31, 1839; perf. in a Ger. tr. as Die Matrosen, Hamburg, Dec. 23, 1845). He scored a decisive acclaim with his romantic opera Alessandro Stradella, based on the legendary accounts of the life of the Italian composer; it was first performed in Hamburg on Dec. 30, 1844, and had numerous subsequent productions in Germany. He achieved an even greater success with his romantic opera Martha, oder Der Markt zu Richmond (Vienna, Nov. 25, 1847); in it he demonstrated his ability to combine the German sentimental spirit with Italian lyricism and Parisian elegance. The libretto was based on a ballet, Lady Henriette, ou La Servante de Greenwich (1844), for which Flotow had composed the music for Act I; the ballet in turn was based on a vaudeville, La Comtesse d’Egmont; the authentic Irish melody The Last Rose of Summer was incorporated into the opera by Flotow, lending a certain nostalgic charm to the whole work. Flotow’s aristocratic predilections made it difficult for him to remain in Paris after the revolution of 1848. He accepted the post of Intendant at the grand ducal court theater in Schwerin (1855–63), then moved to Austria; he returned to Germany in 1873, settling in Darmstadt in 1880.


DRAMATIC Opera : Pierre et Cathérine (1st perf. in a German version, Ludwigslust, 1835); Die Bergknappen; Alfred der Grosse; Rob-Roy (Royaumont, Sept. 1836); Serafine (Royaumont, Oct. 30, 1836); Alice (Paris, April 8, 1837); La Lettre du prefet (Paris, 1837; rev. 1868); Le Comte de Saint-Megrin (Royaumont, June 10, 1838; rev. as Le Due de Guise, Paris, April 3, 1840; in German, Schwerin, Feb. 24, 1841); Lady Melvil (with Albert Grisar; Paris, Nov. 15, 1838); L’Eau merveilleuse (with Grisar; Paris, Jan. 30, 1839); Le Naufrage de la Meduse (with Auguste Pilati; Paris, May 31, 1839; in German as Die Matrosen, Hamburg, Dec. 23, 1845); L’Esclave de Camoens (Paris, Dec. 1, 1843; subsequent revisions under different titles); Alessandro Stradella (Hamburg, Dec. 30, 1844); L’Ame en peine (Der Forster; Paris, June 29, 1846); Martha, oder Der Markt zu Richmond (Vienna, Nov. 25, 1847); Sophie Katharina, oder Die Grossfurstin (Berlin, Nov. 19, 1850); Rubezahl (private perf., Retzien, Aug. 13, 1852; public perf., Frankfurt am Main, Nov. 26, 1853); Albin, oder Der Pflegesohn (Vienna, Feb. 12, 1856; rev. as Der Mtiller von Meran, Konigsberg, 1859); Herzog Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, oder Andreas Mylius (Schwerin, May 27, 1857); Pianella (Schwerin, Dec. 27, 1857); La Veuve Grapin (Paris, Sept. 21, 1859; in German, Vienna, June 1, 1861); La Chatelaine (Der Marchensucher, 1865); Naida (St. Petersburg, Dec. 11, 1865); Zilda, ou La Nuit des dupes (Paris, May 28, 1866); Am Runenstein (Prague, April 13, 1868); L’Ombre (Paris, July 7, 1870; in German as Sein Schatten, Vienna, Nov. 10, 1871); Die Musikanten, or La Jeunesse de Mozart (Mannheim, June 19, 1887). B a l l e t : Lady Henriette, ou La Servante de Greenwich (Act II by R. Burgmiiller and Act III by E. Deldevez; Paris, Feb. 21, 1844); Die Libelle, or La Demoiselle, ou Le Papillon ou Dolores (Schwerin, Aug. 8, 1856); Die Gruppe der Thetis (Schwerin, Aug. 18, 1858); Der Tannkonig (Schwerin, Dec. 22, 1861); Der Konigsschuss (Schwerin, May 22, 1864). ORCH.: Sym. (1833; not extant); 2 piano concertos (1830, 1831); JubelOuverture (1857). CHAMBER: Trio de salon for Violin, Piano, and Cello (1845); Violin Sonata (1861). VOCAL: Songs.


G. von Flotow, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Familie vonF. (Dresden, 1844); A. Bussensius, F. i?.E: Line Biographie (Kassel, 1855); B. Bardi-Poswiansky, F. als Opernkomponist (diss., Univ. of Konigsberg, 1924); J. Weissmann, F. (London, 1950).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire