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Gerber, Ernst Ludwig

Gerber, Ernst Ludwig

Gerber, Ernst Ludwig, celebrated German lexicographer; b. Sondershausen, Sept. 29, 1746; d. there, June 30, 1819. He studied organ and theory with his father, the organist and composer Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber. He then studied both law and music in Leipzig, becoming a skillful cellist and organist, in which latter capacity he became (1769) his father’s assistant, and succeeded him in 1775. He visited Weimar, Kassel, Leipzig, and other cities, and gradually gathered together a large collection of musicians’ portraits; to these he appended brief biographical notices, and finally conceived the plan of writing a biographical dictionary of musicians. Though his resources (in a small town without a public library, and having to rely in great measure on material sent him by his publisher, Breitkopf) were hardly adequate to the task he undertook, his Historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkunstler (Leipzig, 2 vols., 1790–92; reprinted 1976) was so well received, and brought in such a mass of corrections and fresh material from all quarters, that he prepared a supplementary ed., Neues historisch- biographisches Lexikon der Tonkunstler (4 vols., 1812–14; reprinted 1966). Though the former was intended only as a supplement to Warther’s dictionary, and both are, of course, out of date, they contain much material still of value, and have been extensively drawn upon by more recent writers. The Viennese Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde purchased his large library

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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