Franz (originally, Knauth), Robert

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Franz (originally, Knauth), Robert

Franz (originally, Knauth), Robert, famous German song composer; b. Halle, June 28, 1815; d. there, Oct. 24, 1892. His father, Christoph Franz Knauth, legally adopted the name Franz in 1847. The parents did not favor music as a profession, but Franz learned to play the organ and participated as an accompanist in performances in his native city. In 1835 he went to Dessau, where he studied with Friedrich Schneider; in 1837 he returned to Halle. He publ. his first set of songs in 1843, which attracted immediate attention and were warmly praised by Schumann. In 1841 he received an appointment as organist at the Ulrichskirche in Halle, and also as conductor of the Singakademie there in 1842; later he received the post of music director at Halle Univ. (1851–67), which conferred on him the title of Mus.D. in 1861. The successful development of his career as a musician was interrupted by a variety of nervous disorders and growing deafness, which forced him to abandon his musical activities in 1867. Liszt, Joachim, and others organized a concert for his benefit, collecting a large sum of money (about $25,000); admirers in America (Otto Dresel, S.B. Schlesinger, B.J. Lang) also contributed funds for his support. He publ. Mitteilungen tiber J.S. Bachs Magnificat (Leipzig, 1863) and Offener Brief an Ed. Hanslick tiber Bearbeitungen alterer Tonwerke, namentlich Bachscher und Handelscher Vokalwerke (Leipzig, 1871), both of which were reprinted byR. Bethge as Gesammelte Schriften uber die Wiederbelebung Bachscher und Handelscher Werke (Leipzig, 1910). Franz was undoubtedly one of the finest masters of the German lied. He publ. about 350 songs, of which the best known were Schlummerlied, Die Lotosblume, Die Widmung, and Wonne der Wehmuth.


F. Liszt, R. F. (Leipzig, 1855; reprinted in Gesammelte Schriften, vol. IV, Leipzig, 1882); H. Schuster, R. F. (Leipzig, 1874); La Mara, R. F., in vol. Ill of Musikalische Studienkopfe (Leipzig, 1868–82; publ. separately, 1911); R. Prochazka, R. F. (Leipzig, 1894); W. Golther, R. F. und Arnold Freiherr Senfft von Pilsach: Ein Briefivechsel 1861–89 (Berlin, 1907); R. Bethge, R. F.: Ein Lebensbild (Halle, 1908); S. Barbak, Die Lieder von R. F. (Vienna, 1922); H. von der Pfordten, R. F. (Leipzig, 1923); J. Boonin, An Index to the Solo Songs of R. F. (Hackensack, N.J., 1970).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire