John Field

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Field, John

Field, John, remarkable Irish pianist and composer;b. Dublin, July 26, 1782; d. Moscow, Jan. 23, 1837. His father was a violinist, and his grandfather was an organist. It was from his grandfather that he received his first instruction in music. At the age of 9 he began study with Tommaso Giordani, making his debut in Dublin on March 24, 1792. He went to London in 1793, and gave his first concert there that same year. He then had lessons with Clementi, and was also employed in the salesrooms of dementi’s music establishment. He began his concert career in earnest with a notable series of successful appearances in London in 1800–01. He then accompanied Clementi on his major tour of the Continent, beginning in 1802. After visiting Paris in 1802, they proceeded to St. Petersburg in 1803; there Field settled as a performer and teacher, giving his debut performance in 1804. He made many concert tours in Russia. Stricken with cancer of the rectum, he returned to London in 1831 for medical treatment. He performed his piano concerto in E-flat major at a Phil. Soc. concert there on Feb. 27, 1832. Later that year he played in Paris, and then subsequently toured various cities in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy until his health compelled him to abandon his active career. He eventually returned to Moscow, where he died. Field’s historical position as a composer is of importance, even though his music does not reveal a great original talent. He developed the free fantasias and piano recitative, while following the basic precepts of Classical music; he was also the originator of keyboard nocturnes. He composed 7 concertos (1799, 1814, 1816, 1816,1817,1819 [rev. 1820], 1822), 4 sonatas (1801,1801, 1801, 1813), about 30 nocturnes (1812–36?), polonaises, etc., as well as a quintet for piano and strings (1816) and 2 divertimenti for piano, strings, and flute (c. 1810–11).

Bibliography

F. Liszt, UberJ. F.s Nocturnes (Hamburg, 1859; also in Vol. IV of Liszt’s Gesammelte Schriften, Leipzig, 1882); H. Dessauer, /. F., Sein Leben und seine Werke (Langensalza, 1912); W. Grattan Flood, /. F. of Dublin (Dublin, 1920); A. Nikolaev, /. F. (Moscow, 1960; Eng. tr., 1973); C. Hopkinson, A Bibliographical Thematic Catalogue of the Works of J. F. (London, 1961); G. Southall, /. F.’s Piano Concertos: An Analytical and Historical Study (diss., Univ. of Iowa, 1966); D. Branson, /. F. and Chopin (London, 1972); P. Piggott, The Life and Music of J. F. (London, 1973; 2nd ed., 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Field, John (b Dublin, 1782; d Moscow, 1837). Irish pianist and composer. Début in Dublin aged 9. In London became pupil of Clementi, whose pfs. he exhibited. Played a conc. by Dussek at Pinto's benefit concert 1798 and his own 1st conc. at King's Th., 1799. In 1802 Clementi took him to Fr., Ger., and Russia, where he settled in St Petersburg in 1803, becoming teacher and touring Europe as virtuoso pianist. Last played in Eng. 1831–2. His importance as a composer for the pf. has only latterly been recognized. He invented the style and name Nocturne for short pieces, composing 19. Wrote 7 pf. concs., 4 sonatas, and other works. Schumann and Liszt admired his work, and Chopin developed the nocturne form.

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Field, John (1782–1837). Field was a piano virtuoso and composer, whose delicate and sentimental nocturnes had considerable influence on Chopin, Mendelssohn, and others. Born in Dublin of a musical family, he made his first public appearance at the age of 9. He was taken to St Petersburg by Clementi, to whom he was apprenticed, and spent most of his life in Russia, coming to England for a visit in 1832. Hamilton Harty's rather lush arrangement of four pieces as an orchestral suite in 1939 contributed to a popular revival of interest.

J. A. Cannon

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John Field, 1782–1837, Irish composer and pianist. In London he studied with Clementi, with whom he later toured Europe. In 1804 he settled in Russia. Field was a successful pianist and his style of composition was influential. Chopin's nocturnes were modeled after those of Field.

See study by P. Piggott (1973).