Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg

views updated Jun 27 2018


Influential composer, theorist, and virtuoso of the classical school; b. Klosterneuburg (near Vienna), Austria, Feb. 3, 1736; d. Vienna, March 7, 1809. After receiving music training as a chorister in St. Martin's Church in Klosterneuburg and at the Abbey of melk, he was a fellow student with M. haydn at the Jesuit college in Vienna and later a student of F. J. haydn. He was organist successively in Raab (Hungary), Maria-Taferl (Lower Austria), and Melk (to 1766). His musicianship had been noted by Joseph II as crown prince, and he was named court organist in Vienna in 1772 and also choirmaster at St. Stephen's Cathedral from 1793 until his death. Among his students were Joseph von Eybler, J. N. hummel, and notably Ludwig van beethoven, who profited immensely from his contrapuntal exercises. Although he turned out a considerable body of sacred vocal and organ music as well as concert compositions, he was more important for his theoretical writings, such as Gründliche Anweisung zur Composition and Clavierschule für Anfänger. As with J. J. fux, in theory he preferred stile antico, yet often applied stile moderno in his instrumentally accompanied sacred music. Many of his settings of the Mass Proper and the Office make use of Gregorian cantus firmi; all of them exhibit his great contrapuntal skill. Yet in neither his creative nor his theoretic work was he successful in synthesizing the vocal polyphonic style of Palestrina with that of subsequent instrumental polyphony, and in his oratorios he dropped counterpoint in favor of the galant style that was then emerging into fashion.

Bibliography: Organ and instrumental compositions, ed. o. kapp, Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (1893; repr. Graz 1959) 33. Individual works also pub. in modern eds. Complete Works, ed. i. ritter von seyfried (Vienna 182637), with biog. e. tittel, Österreichische Kirchenmusik (Vienna 1961). h. goos, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 1:303307. f. gehring, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 1:97. r. n. freeman, "Johann Georg Albrechtsberger's 26 canoni aperti dei varii autori: The Edition," Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory, 8 (1994) 152; "Johann Georg Albrechtsberger," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, v. 1, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 224226. p. griffiths, The String Quartet: A History (New York 1983) 5051. g. krombach, "Modelle der offertoriumskompositonen bei Antonio Caldara, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, und Joseph Preindl," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 71 (1988) 127136. d. schroder, Die geistlichen Vokalkompositionen Johann Georg Albrechtsbergers (Hamburg 1987). yo tomita, "Bach Reception in Pre-Classical Vienna: Baron van Swieten's Circle Edits the Well-Tempered Clavier II, " Music and Letters, 81 (2000) 369391.

[k. g. fellerer]

Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg

views updated May 14 2018

Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg

Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg, famous Austrian organist, music theorist, pedagogue, and composer; b. Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, Feb. 3, 1736; d. Vienna, March 7, 1809. He studied organ and figured bass with Leopold Pittner, the dean of the Augustinians in Klosterneuburg, then was a choirboy at the Melk Abbey (1749–54), where he received instruction in organ and composition from Marian Gurtler, its regens chori, and from Joseph Weiss, its organist; he subsequently spent a year in Vienna at the Jesuit seminary before commencing his career as an organist in small towns. He was organist in Melk (1759–65), during which period his outstanding playing brought him to the attention of Emperor Joseph. In 1772 he was called to Vienna to serve as regens chori to the Carmelites; in 1791 he became asst. Kapellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and in 1793, Kapellmeister, holding the position with great distinction. In addition to his renown as an organist, he was widely esteemed as a teacher of composition. Haydn sent Beethoven to him for study in 1794–95. His important theoretical writings include Gründliche Anweisung zur Composition...(Leipzig, 1790; 3rd ed., aug., 1821; Eng. tr., 1844), Kurzgefaste Methode, den Genemlbass zu erlernen (Vienna, c. 1791; 2nd ed., aug., 1792; Eng. tr., 1815), and Clavierschule für Anfanger (Vienna, c. 1800). For his complete writings, see I. von Seyfried, ed., Johann Georg Albrechtsbergers sämmtliche Schriften über Generalbass, Harmonie-Lehre, und Tonsetzkunst (Vienna, 1826; 2nd ed., 1837; Eng. tr., 1834). He was a prolific composer; his sacred music includes 35 masses, 48 graduals, 42 offertories, and 6 oratorios; his secular works include numerous quintets, quartets, and trios. For his instrumental works, see F. Brodsky and O. Biba, eds., Johann Georg Albrechtsberger: Instrumentalwerke in Documenta Musicologica (1968–75).


O. Kappelmacher, J.G. A.: Sein Leben und seine Instrumentalwerke (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1907); G. Uebele, J.G. A., der Theoretiker (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1932); A. Schramek-Kirchner, J.G. A.s Fugenkompositionen in seinen Werken für Tasteninstrumente (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1954); U. Thomson, Voraussetzungen und Artung der osterreichischen Generalbasslehre zwischen A. und Sechter (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1960); R. Harpster, The String Quartets of J.G. A. (diss., Univ. of Southern Calif., 1975); E. Paul, J.G. A.: Ein Klosterneuburger Meister der Musik und seine Schule (Klosterneuburg, 1976); D. Schröder, Die geistlichen Vokalkompositionen J.G. A.s (2 vols., Hamburg, 1987); A. Weinmann, J.G. A.: Thematischer Katalog seiner weltlichen Kompositionen (Vienna, 1987).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg

views updated May 11 2018

Albrechtsberger, Johann Georg (b Klosterneuberg, nr. Vienna, 1736; d Vienna, 1809). Austrian organist at Viennese court (1772) and cath. (1791); composer, but best remembered as comp. teacher (pupils incl. Beethoven) and as author of many theoretical works, incl. important textbook of comp. (1790, widely used in Eng. trans.).

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