Schwencke

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Schwencke

Schwencke, family of German musicians:

(1) Johann Gottlieb Schwencke, bassoonist and composer; b. Breitenau, Saxony, Aug. 11, 1744; d. Hamburg, Dec. 7, 1823. He was greatly esteemed as a bassoonist, serving as a town musician in Hamburg, where he was also active as a piano teacher.

(2) Christian Fredrich Gottlieb Schwencke, pianist and composer, son of the preceding; b. Wachenhausen, Harz, Aug. 30, 1767; d. Hamburg, Oct. 27, 1822. He began piano study as a child, performing one of his father’s piano concertos in Hamburg in 1779. He went to Berlin in 1782 to study with Marpurg and Kirnberger; after attending the Univs. of Leipzig and Halle (1787–88), he was in 1788 named C.P.E. Bach’s successor as Hamburg Stadtkantor, a position he retained until his death. Schwenke was also a contributor to the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (from 1799), ran his own music business (from 1801), and was director of a music academy for private performances (from 1805). He wrote incidental music, oratorios, cantatas, 2 piano concertos, an Oboe Concerto, 3 piano sonatas, 3 violin sonatas, 6 organ fugues, and songs. He also ed. rescored versions of Handel’s Messiah and Alexander’s Feast, Bach’s Mass in B minor and Magnificat, and Hasse’s Te Deutn. He had 2 sons who became musicians:

(3) Johann Friedrich Schwencke, organist, cellist, clarinetist, and composer; b. Hamburg, April 30, 1792; d. there, Sept. 28, 1852. He received instruction in theory and composition from his father, being made organist of Hamburg’s Nikolaikirche in 1829. He wrote numerous cantatas, over 500 chorale preludes and postludes for organ, and a Septet for 5 Cellos, Double Bass, and Kettledrums, and harmonized about 1,000 chorales and 73 Russian folk songs. He also publ. the popular Choralbuch zum Hamburgischen Gesangbuch (1832), made many transcriptions, and orchestrated Beethoven’s Adelaide and various works by other composers. His son, Friedrich Gottlieb Schwencke (b. Hamburg, Dec. 15, 1823; d. there, June 11, 1896), was a pianist, organist, and composer who studied with his father, whom he succeeded as organist at the Nikolaikirche in 1852; also made tours as a pianist and organist, including a successful visit to Paris (1855). He wrote 2 fantasies for Organ, Trumpet, Trombones, and Timpani, sacred songs for Women’s Voices and Organ, chorale preludes, and songs. He also brought out an augmented ed. of his father’s chorales (1886).

(4) Karl Schwencke, pianist and composer; b. Hamburg, March 7, 1797; d. probably in Nussdorf, near Vienna, Jan. 7, 1870. He traveled widely; in Vienna in 1824 he met Beethoven, who composed the canon Schwenke dich for him. His own works include a Sym. in D major (Paris, 1843), a Mass, a Violin Sonata, 3 sonatas for Piano Duet, and solo piano pieces.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire