Jahn, Otto

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Jahn, Otto

Jahn, Otto, learned German philologist, archeologist, and music scholar; b. Kiel, June 16, 1813; d. Göttingen, Sept. 9, 1869. He studied languages and antiquities at the Univs. of Kiel, Leipzig, and Berlin. He became a lecturer on philology in Kiel (1839), then was made prof, of archeology in Greifswald (1842). He later was director of the Leipzig Archeological Museum (1847–48), but lost this position in the wake of the political upheaval of 1848. In 1855 he was appointed prof, of archeology at the Univ. of Bonn. His magnum opus in the field of music was the biography Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (4 vols., Leipzig, 1856-59; 2nd ed., 1867; Eng. tr. by P. Townsend, London, 1882; Ger. revs, by H. Deiters, 3rd ed., 1891-93 and 4th ed., 1905-07; exhaustively rewritten and rev. by H. Abert as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Neu bearbeitete und erweiterte Ausgabe von Otto Jahns “Mozart,” 2 vols., Leipzig, 1919-21, rendering it the standard biography; further rev. by A.A. Abert, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1955-56). Jahn’s biography was the first musical life written according to the comparative critical method. It reviews the state of music during the period immediately preceding Mozart, and as a comprehensive exposition has become a model for subsequent musical biographies. He intended to write a biography of Beethoven according to a similar plan, but could not complete the task; Thayer utilized the data accumulated by him in his own work on Beethoven; Pohl used his notes in his biography of Haydn. Numerous essays by Jahn were publ, in his Gesammelte Aufsätze über Musik (1866).


J. Vahlen, O. J. (Vienna, 1870); E. Petersen, ed., O. J. in seinen Briefen (Leipzig, 1912); M. Schramm, O. J.s Musikästhetik und Musikkritik (Essen, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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