Pleyel, Ignace Joseph (actually, Ignaz Josef)

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Pleyel, Ignace Joseph (actually, Ignaz Josef)

Pleyel, Ignace Joseph (actually, Ignaz Josef ), eminent Austrian-French pianist, piano manufacturer, music publisher, and composer, father of (Joseph Stephen) Camille Pleyel ; b. Ruppertsthal, near Vienna, June 18, 1757; d. on his estate near Paris, Nov. 14, 1831. He was the 24th of 38 children in the impoverished family of a schoolteacher; however, he received sufficient education, including music lessons, to qualify for admittance to the class of Wanhal. Thanks to the generosity of Count Ladislaus Erdödy, he became Haydn’s pupil and lodger in Eisenstadt (c. 1772–77), and then was enabled to go to Rome. In 1783 he became 2nd Kapellmeister at the Strasbourg Cathedral; was advanced to the rank of Ist Kapellmeister in 1789, but lost his position during the turbulent times of the French Revolution. He conducted the “Professional Concerts” in London during the 1791–92 season, and honored his teacher Haydn by playing a work of Haydn at his opening concert (Feb. 13, 1792). After several years he returned to Strasbourg to liquidate his estate. In 1795 he went to Paris, where he opened a music store which was in business until 1834, and in 1807 founded a piano factory, which manufactured famous French pianos; the firm eventually became known as Pleyel et Cie., and continued to prosper for over a century and a half. The name Pleyel is mainly known through his piano manufacture, but he was a prolific and an extremely competent composer. His productions are so close in style to those of Haydn that specialists are still inclined to attribute certain works in Haydn’s catalogues to Pleyel. He composed about 45 syms., 6 symphonies concertantes, 2 violin concertos, 5 cello concertos, other concertos, 16 string quintets, Septet, Sextet, more than 70 string quartets, many trios and duos, and some vocal music, including 2 operas, Die Fee Urgele for puppet theater (Eszterház, Nov. 1776) and Ifigenia in Aulide (Naples, May 30, 1785), and some songs.


L. de Fourcaud, La Salle P. (Paris, 1893); R. Benton, Ignace P.: A Thematic Catalogue of His Compositions (N.Y., 1977); R. Benton and J. Halley, P. as Music Publisher: A Documentary Sourcebook of Early 19th-Century Music (Stuyvesant, N.Y., 1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire