Ludwig Spohr

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Spohr, Ludwig (Louis) (b Brunswick, 1784; d Kassel, 1859). Ger. composer, violinist, and conductor. Child prodigy as violinist and composer. At 14 member of Duke of Brunswick's court orch. Toured Russ. 1802, meeting Clementi and Field. From 1805 toured Ger. as violinist and cond., composing operas and oratorios. Leader of ducal orch. at Gotha from 1805. Vienna début 1812, becoming leader of orch. at Theater an der Wien until 1815. London début at Philharmonic Soc. concert 1820 as solo violinist in his own 8th conc., thereby inaugurating Spohr vogue in Eng. Visited Eng. five more times. Was one of first conds. to use baton. Appointed court cond. for life at Hesse-Kassel 1822 (gen. mus. dir. from 1847). Completed vn. method 1831. Early champion of Wagner, conducting Der fliegende Holländer at Kassel 1843 and Tannhäuser 1853. Spohr's operas were successful in their day (and Faust was successfully revived in London, 1984), but it is the melodic charm of his chamber mus. and his vn. concs. which has principally led to a moderate revival of interest in his work. Prin. comps.:

OPERAS: Die Prüfung (1806); Alruna, die Eulenkönigin (1808); Der Zweikampf mit der Geliebten (1811); Faust (1813, rev. 1852); Zemire und Azor (1818–19); Jessonda (1822–3); Der Berggeist (1825); Pietro von Abano (1827); Der Alchymist (1830); Die Kreuzfahrer (1845).ORATORIOS: Das jüngste Gericht (1812); Die letzten Dinge (1825–6); Des Heilands letzte Stunden (1835); Der Fall Babylons (1842).ORCH.: syms.: No.1 in E♭ (1811), No.2 in D minor (1820), No.3 in C minor (1828), No.4 (Die Weihe der Töne, The Power of Sound) (1835), No.5 in C minor (1838), No.6 in G (Historical Symphony) (1840), No.7 in C (Double Symphony, Irdisches und Göttliches in Menschenleben) (1842), No.8 in G minor (1847), No.9 in B minor (The Seasons) (1850), No.10 (1857); 6 ovs.; Waltzes.CONCERTOS: 18 for vn. (c.1799–1844), No.8 in A minor being sub-titled Gesangszene, ‘in the form of a vocal scena’; 4 for cl.; potpourris for vn., vc., and orch.; conc. for str. qt. (1845)CHAMBER MUSIC: 34 str. qts.; 4 double str. qts.; 7 str. quintets; octet in E major (str. and wind); septet for pf. and wind; nonet in F for str. qt., fl., ob., cl., bn., hn.; pf. and wind quintet; 3 pf. trios; str. sextet; sonatas, etc.

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Ludwig Spohr (lŏŏt´vĬkh shpōr, lōō´ē), 1784–1859, German composer, conductor, and violinist. After touring Europe extensively, he was (1822–57) court conductor in Kassel. His prolific output includes 11 operas, of which Faust (1816) and Jessonda (1823) are the most important; 9 symphonies, many of them programmatic; 15 violin concertos; numerous oratorios and other choral works; and a large quantity of chamber music. His music, which was influential in his day, shows a curious mixture of conservative and progressive tendencies. A mannered chromaticism, derived from Mozart, anticipated that of Wagner, whose works Spohr was one of the first to champion. As a violinist, Spohr developed a style which, through his teaching and his famous Violinschule (1831), became the basis for the German school of violin playing.

See his autobiography (1845, tr. 1878).

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