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).
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
J. A. Cannon