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Sonnleithner, family of Austrian musicians and writers:

(1) Christoph Sonnleithner, composer; b. Szegedin, May 28, 1734; d. Vienna, Dec. 25, 1786. He was 2 when he was taken to Vienna, where he received his musical training from his uncle, Leopold Sonnleithner, a choirmaster; he took courses in law and served as a barrister in the employ of Prince Esterházy, becoming associated with Haydn. His works include syms., sacred pieces, and 36 string quartets. His daughter Anna was the mother of the famous poet Grillparzer. He also had 2 sons who were active in music:

(2) Joseph Sonnleithner, librettist and archivist; b. Vienna, March 3, 1766; d. there, Dec. 25, 1835. He acquired material for the emperor’s private library, and was ed. of the Wiener Theater-Almanach (1794–96). He served as secretary of the Court theaters (1808–14), and also was manager of the Theater an der Wien (until 1807); was one of the founders of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (1812). He wrote some librettos and adapted others, including Fidelio for Beethoven and Faniska by Cherubini. In 1827 he discovered the famous Antiphonary of St. Gall of the 9th century, in neume notation, probably a copy of the one sent there by Charlemagne in 790. He bequeathed his collection of opera librettos to the Vienna Cons. and his instrument collection and library to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. He was a close friend of Schubert and Grillparzer.

(3) Ignaz (von) Sonnleithner, bass, doctor, and scientist; b. Vienna, July 30, 1770; d. there, Nov. 27, 1831. He appeared as principal bass with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. He held musical soirées in his home (1815–24), at which Schubert tried out several of his vocal works. His son was Leopold von Sonnleithner (b. Vienna, Nov. 15, 1797; d. there, March 4, 1873). A barrister, he was a staunch friend of Schubert and enabled him to publ, the Erlkönig (Schubert’s first publ. work). A great lover of music, he was active with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, to which he left his musical papers.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire