Heinrich, Anthony Philip (actually, Anton Philipp)

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Heinrich, Anthony Philip (actually, Anton Philipp)

Heinrich, Anthony Philip (actually, Anton Philipp), prominent American composer of German-Bohemian descent; b. Schönbüchel, March 11, 1781; d. N.Y, May 3, 1861. He was adopted by a wealthy uncle and given lessons in violin and piano; all the same, he was mainly autodidact as a musician. At his uncle’s death, he came into a rich inheritance, including property and a flourishing business. In 1805 he visited the U.S., and returned there in 1810 to pursue his business interests but without success. In the wake of the Austrian financial debacle of 1811, he lost his wealth and returned to the U.S. in a vain attempt to restore his fortunes. After he failed again in business in 1817, he set out on a trek through the American wilderness, which took him from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and then down the Ohio River to Bardstown, Ky. He managed to find enough musicians to conduct one of Beethoven’s syms. in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 12, 1817, the first known performance of a Beethoven sym. in America. In 1818 he began to compose in earnest, which resulted in the publication of his op.l, The Dawning of Music in Kentucky, or The Pleasures of Harmony in the Solitudes of Nature (Philadelphia, 1820; rev. 1820-23), a collection of piano music, pieces for violin and piano, and songs. It was followed by the collections The Western Minstrel, op.2 (Philadelphia, 1820; rev. 1820-23) and The Sylviad, or Minstrelsy of Nature in the Wilds of N. America, op.3 (Boston, 1823, and 1825-26). From 1826 to 1831 he pursued his career in Europe, returning there in 1833. In 1836 he received critical accolades as a composer in Graz. In 1837 he settled in N.Y and acquired a notable reputation. His works were heard at festivals there in 1842, 1846, and 1853, and critics hailed him as “the Beethoven of America” He became affectionately known as “Father Heinrich.” In 1856 he returned once more to Europe. By the time he returned to N.Y. in 1859, interest in his career had plummeted and he ended his days in poverty. While Heinrich wrote some fine piano pieces and songs, he was a composer dedicated to scores on a grand scale. His often amusingly titled symphonic works may be the product of a composer of an eccentric bent, but they are not without redeeming qualities. He was much taken by descriptive writing, and remains historically important as the first major composer in America to consider the American Indian as a subject worthy of serious compositional effort.


orchPushmataha, a Venerable Chief of a Western Tribe of Indians (1831); A Concerto for the Kent Bugle (1834); Complaint of Logan, the Mingo Chief (1834); The Indian War Council (1834); The Mocking Bird to the Nightingale (1834); The Tower of Babel (1834); The Treaty of William Penn with the Indians, concerto grosso (1834; rev. 1847); The Wildwood Troubadour, overture (1834–53); The Jäger’s Adieu (1835); Gran sinfonia eroica (e. 1835); Pocahontas (1837); The Columbiad, sym. (1837); The Hunters of Kentucky, sym. (1837); Schiller, grande sinfonia dramatica (1830s; rev. 1847); The Wild Wood Spirits’ Chant (c. 1842); Musica sacra no. 1: The Tower of Babel (1843; rev. 1852); National Memories, overture (1844–52); Johannis Berg (c. 1844); Manitou Mysteries, sym. (c. 1844); The Indian Carnival, sinfonia erotica fantachia (c. 1844); The War of the Elements (c. 1844); Boadicea, overture (c. 1845); Shenandoah (c. 1845); The Empress Queen and the Magyars, sinfonia patriotica-dramatica (c. 1845); The Mastodon, sym. (c. 1845); To the Spirit of Beethoven, sym. (c. 1845); The Ornithological Combat of Kings, sym. (1847; rev. 1856); The Tomb of Genius: To the Memory of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, sinfonia sacra (c. 1847); The Castle in the Moon (1850); Austria: The Flight of the Double Eagle, overture (c. 1853); Bohemia, sinfonia romantica (e. 1853); Homage à la Bohème, sym. (1855); Austria: Heil dir ritterlicher Kaiser, march (e. 1858); Die Allianz beider Hemispheren (c.1858); The Harper of Kentucky, overture (n.d). brass band and percussion:Marcia funerale (c. 1851); Marcia funebre for the Heroes (c. 1852). CHAMBER: Ode to the Memory of Commodore O. H. Perry for Piano and Violin or Flute (1820); Tema di Mozart and an Original Air for 2 Violins, Double Bass or Cello, and Piano ad libitum (1820); The Yankee Doodleiad for 3 Violins, Double Bass or Cello, and Piano (1820); Storia d’un violino for Violin (1831); Souvenir of the Hudson Highlands for Piano and Violin (1851); Trip to the “Catskill Mountain House” for Violin and Piano (1851); Otetto for 3 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos, Double Bass, and Triangle (c. 1858); numerous solo piano pieces. vocal O santa Maria for Soprano, Tenor, and Chamber Orch. (1834); Musica sacra, No. 2: Adoramus te Christe for 3 Voices and Orch. (1835) and No. 3: O Santa Maria for Chorus and Chamber Orch. (c. 1835); The Jubilee for 5 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1841); The Warriors’ March for 4 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1845); Coro funerale for 5 Soloists, Chorus, Semichorus, Orch., and Organ (c. 1847); Amor patriaeOur Native Land for 5 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. or Piano (c. 1853); Noble Emperor for 5 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (c. 1854); choruses; many solo songs.


F. Mussik, Skizzen aus dem Leben des sich in Amerika befindenden deutschen Tondichters A.P. H, nach authentischen Quellen bearbeitet (Prague, 1843); A.P. H. (“Vater Heinrich”): Zur Lebensgeschichte des Veteran Kompositeurs, unsers aus der neuen Welt beimgekehrten Landsmannes (Prague, 1857); W. Upton, A.P. H.: A Nineteenth-century Composer in America (N.Y., 1939); F. Bruce, The Piano Pieces of A.P. H. Contained in “The Dawning of Music in Kentucky” and “The Western Minstrel” (diss., Univ. of 111., 1971); D. Barron, The Early Vocal Works of A.P. H. (diss., Univ. of III, 1972); W. Maust, The Symphonies of A.P. H. Based on American Themes (diss., Ind. Univ., 1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Heinrich, Anthony Philip (actually, Anton Philipp)

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