Süssmayr, Franz Xaver

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Süssmayr, Franz Xaver

Süssmayr, Franz Xaver, Austrian composer; b. Schwanenstadt, 1766; d. Vienna, Sept. 17, 1803. He studied composition with Maximilian Piessinger and Georg von Pasterwiz. He went to Vienna in 1788 as a music teacher; about 1790 he was befriended by Mozart, who gave him composition lessons; Mozart utilized his talents, employing him as a composer and collaborator. After Mozart’s death, he took lessons in vocal composition from Salieri, then was a harpsichordist and acting Kapellmeister at the National Theater (1792-94). From 1794 until his death he was Kapellmeister of the National Theater’s German opera productions. His most successful stage works were the Singspiel Der Spiegel von Arkadien (1794) and the ballet Il noce di Benevento (1802). After Mozart’s death, his widow entrusted the completion of his Requiem to Sussmayr; he was clever in emulating Mozart’s style of composition, and his handwriting was so much like Mozart’s that it is difficult to distinguish between them. Süssmayr wrote a number of operas and operettas, which he produced in Vienna, among them: Moses oder Der Auszug aus Ägypten (May 4, 1792); L’incanto superato or Der besiegte Zauber (July 8, 1793); Idris und Zenide (May 11, 1795); Die edle Rache (Aug. 27, 1795); Die Freiwilligen (Sept. 27, 1796); Der Wildfang (Oct. 4, 1797); Der Marktschreyer (July 6, 1799); Soliman der Zweite, oder Die drei Sultaninnen (Oct. 1, 1799); Guiñare oder Die persische Sklavin (July 5, 1800); Phasma oder Die Erscheinung im Tempel der Verschwiegenheit (July 25, 1801). He also wrote secco recitatives for Mozart’s opera La clemenza di Tito (Prague, Sept. 6, 1791) and composed several numbers for the Vienna production of Grétry’s La Double Épreuve, given there under the title Die doppelte Erkenntlichkeit (Feb. 28, 1796). Other works include 2 clarinet concertos, divertimentos, cassations, some chamber music, sacred works, including a Missa solemnis, 2 German Requiems, and 4 Masses, etc.


G. Sievers, Mozart und S.(Mainz, 1829); W. Lehner, F.X. S. als Opernkomponist (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1927); J. Winterberger, F.X. S.: Leben, Umwelt und Gestalt (diss., Univ. of Innsbruck, 1946); W. Wlcek, F.X. S. als Kirchenkomponist (Tutz-ing, 1978).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire