Kusser (or Cousser), Johann Sigismund

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Kusser (or Cousser), Johann Sigismund

Kusser (or Cousser), Johann Sigismund, noted German conductor and composer of Hungarian parentage; b. Pressburg (baptized), Feb. 13, 1660; d. Dublin, Nov. 1727. He received his early musical training from his father, Johann Kusser (1626–75), a minister and organist. He lived in Stuttgart as a boy, then spent 8 years in Paris (1674–82), where he became a pupil of Lully. He subsequently was a violin teacher at the Ansbach court (1682–83), becoming opera Kapellmeister in Braunschweig in 1690. In 1695 he became co-director of the Hamburg Opera, but left the next year and was active in Nuremberg and Augsburg as an opera composer. He was again in Stuttgart from 1700 to 1704 as Ober-Kapellmeister. In 1705 he appeared in London, and in 1709 settled in Dublin, where he was made Chappel-Master of Trinity Coll. in 1717 and Master of the Musick “attending his Majesty’s State in Ireland” in 1717. He was greatly esteemed as an operatic conductor; Mattheson, in his Volkommener Capellmeister, holds him up as a model of efficiency. Kusser is historically significant for being the mediator between the French and the German styles of composition, and the first to use Lully’s methods and forms in German instrumental music. Lully’s influence is shown in Kusser’s set of 6 suites for Strings, Composition de musique suivant la méthode française (Stuttgart, 1682).


dramatic: Opera: Julia (Braunschweig, 1690); Cleopatra (Braunschweig, 1691); La Grotta di Salzdahl, divertimento (Braunschweig, 1691); Ariadne (Braunschweig, Feb. 15, 1692); Andromeda (Braunschweig, Feb. 20, 1692); Jason (Braunschweig, Sept. 1, 1692); Narcissus (Braunschweig, Oct. 14, 1692); Poms (Braunschweig, 1693); Erindo, oder Dir unsträfliche Liebe, pastorale play (Hamburg, 1694); Der grossmüthige Scipio Africanus (Hamburg, 1694); Gensericus, als Rom und Karthagern Überwinder (Hamburg, 1694?; may be by Conradi); Pyramus und Thisbe getreu und festverbundene Liebe (Hamburg, 1694?); Der verliebte Wald (Stuttgart, 1698); Erminia (Stuttgart, Oct. 11, 1698); The Man of Mode (London, Feb. 9, 1705). other: 18 ouvertures or suites, 6 publ. as Composition de musique suivant la méthode française (Stuttgart, 1682), 6 as Apollon enjoué (Stuttgart, 1700), and 6 as Festin des muses (Stuttgart, 1700).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire