Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich

views updated

Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich

Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich, eminent Austrian violinist and composer; b. Scheibbs, Lower Austria, c. 1621; d. Prague, between Feb. 20 and March 20, 1680. He settled in Vienna, where he received his music training. He became a violinist in the court chapel (about 1635) and in the Court Orch. (1649); served as Vice-Kapellmeister (1671–79) and as Kapellmeister (1679–80). In 1673 he was ennobled and added “von Ehrenruef” to his name. He died of the plague. Schmelzer was a significant composer of instrumental music, playing a key role in the development of the suite and sonata. He had 3 sons who became musicians: Andreas Anton Schmelzer (b. Vienna [baptized], Nov. 26, 1653; d. there, Oct. 13, 1701) was a violinist and composer; studied with his father; played in the Court Orch. from 1671; succeeded his father as composer of ballet music (1681–93), producing about 65 ballet suites. Georg Joseph Schmelzer (b. Vienna [baptized], April 7, 1655; d. probably there, c. 1700). Peter Clemens (Clement) Schmelzer (b. Vienna [baptized], April 7, there, Sept. 20, 1746) played in the Court Orch. from 1692 until a finger injury ended his active career in 1729; however, he did not officially retire until 1740.


E. Wellesz, Die Ballett-Suiten von J.H. und A.A. S. (Vienna, 1914).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire