Sterkel, Johann Franz Xaver

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Sterkel, Johann Franz Xaver

Sterkel, Johann Franz Xaver, prominent German pianist, teacher, and composer; b. Würzburg, Dec.3, 1750; d. there, Oct. 12, 1817. He received a thorough training in music from A. Kette, the court organist, and from Weismandel in Würzburg; also attended the Univ. there. In 1768 he was tonsured and named organist in the collegiate chapter of Neumünster, where he subsequently was made subdeacon (1772), deacon (1773), and priest (1774). In 1778 he was called to Mainz to serve the Liebfrauen chapter and as court chaplain; the Elector then sent him to Italy, where he toured widely as a pianist (1779–82) and produced the opera II Furnace (Naples, Jan. 12, 1782); subsequently returned to Mainz to serve as a canon of his chapter. Beethoven heard him play in Aschaffenburg in 1791 and was greatly impressed by him as a pianist and composer. The French invasion of 1792 wreaked havoc with the Mainz court, but when the city was regained in 1793, Sterkel was named court Kapellmeister; however, continued warfare led to the closing of the royal chapel in 1797 and Sterkel returned to Würzburg, where he was active at the court. About 1802 he went to Regensburg, where he found a patron in Karl Theodor von Dalberg; he founded his own choir school. When his patron was made Grand Duke of Frankfurt am Main in 1810, Sterkel went with him to Aschaffenburg as his music director. The court was disbanded in 1814 and he returned once more to Würzburg in 1815. Sterkel was a prolific composer; his most important works are his chamber music and keyboard pieces.


DRAMATIC : Opera: II Farnace (Naples, Jan. 12, 1782). ORCH.: 22 syms.; 4 overtures; 6 piano concertos. CHAMBER: 43 piano or harpsichord trios; 28 piano or harpsichord sonatas; Grand Quintette for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello; Piano Quartet; 6 duos for Violin and Viola. Piano: Numerous solo pieces, including 13 sonatas, 6 of which are for 4-Hands. VOCAL: 4 festival masses, 2 Te Deums, and other sacred music; numerous lieder.


A. Scharnagl, J.F.X. S.: Ein Beitrag zur Musikgeschichte Mainfrankens (Würzburg, 1943).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Sterkel, Johann Franz Xaver

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