Döbereiner, Johann Wolfgang

views updated May 11 2018

Döbereiner, Johann Wolfgang

(b. Hof an der Saale, Germany, 13 December 1780; d. Jena, Germany, 24 March 1849)


Döbereiner was the son of Johann Adam Döbereiner, a farm worker who rose to become an estate manager, and Johanna Susanna Göring. He was self-educated, although his mother supervised his early instruction and in 1784 apprenticed him to an apothecary named Lutz. After three years’ service with Lutz, Döbereiner made his journeyman’s travels through Germany for five years; then he returned to Hof, married Clara Knab, and started a small business manufacturing white lead, sugar of lead, and other pigments and drugs. Almost simultaneously he began publishing articles on these chemicals in the Neues Berliner Jahrbüch für die Pharmazie, of which Adolph Ferdinand Gehlen was editor. Döbereiner’s business thrived for a few years, but then declined because of personal intrigue and the Napoleonic Wars.

Döbereiner was almost destitute when he was invited to teach at the technical college of the University of Jena, on the recommendation of Gehlen. He became associate professor of chemistry and pharmacy there in August 1810 and in November of that year received the enabling doctorate. Grand Duke Carl August of Saxony-Weimar, the principal patron of the school, may have expected to turn Döbereiner’s work to commercial profit, although Goethe, the chief administrator of the Academy and a close friend of Döbereiner, probably had more purely scientific motives in confirming his appointment.

Some of Döbereiner’s work at Jena was indeed practical in design. In 1812 he was engaged in the conversion of starch into sugar by Kirchhoff’s process, and at a slightly later date he made experiments with illuminating gas (the grand duke had admired gas lighting during a visit to England in 1814). Döbereiner gave up the latter experiments in 1816, however, following an explosion. He also gave a series of lectures on practical chemistry to a group of technicians, and taught special courses for economists and administrators.

Döbereiner made further experiments with spongy platinum, which he prepared by decomposing platinum salts in solution or by exposing them to direct heat. (The grand duke supported him in his work by generous gifts of the precious metal, obtained from his connections in Russia.) He constructed a pneumatic gas lighter (Platinfeuerzeug) which consisted of a hydrogenation device that brought hydrogen to impinge on the finely divided platinum; the ensuing oxidation then brought the metal to white heat. In 1828 Döbereiner wrote that about 20,000 of these lighters were in use in Germany and England but, since he had not taken out a patent, they brought him little profit; he added, “I love science more than money.”

In addition to his work with the oxides and complex salts of platinum, Döbereiner investigated that form of the metal that Liebig called “platinum black.” He studied the role of this material in the process of oxidation of sulfur dioxide and alcohol and proposed its use to manufacture acetic acid from the latter. He decomposed an alloy of raw platinum black and zinc with dilute acid and found a black powder that contained platinum, palladium, iridium, ruthenium, and osmium; this black powder was even more intensely reactive in air with acids and alcohols than its parent metal—in a dilute acid it easily oxidized its osmium (which could then be sublimated); and it exploded in a shower of sparks when brought into contact with direct heat in air.

Döbereiner was also involved in stoichiometric studies—for which he suggested the use of simple galvanic cells before Faraday—and wrote a book on the subject in 1816. He studied the action of pyrolusite as a catalyst in the production of oxygen from potassium chlorate and developed a method to separate calcium and magnesium by the use of ammonium oxalate or carbonate in the presence of ammonium chloride.

Döbereiner’s chief contribution to chemistry, however, was the result of his examination of the weights of the chemical elements—work which aided in the development of Mendeleev’s periodic table of all the known elements. Döbereiner’s interest in the relationship of elements to each other began as early as 1817; he based his early studies on analogies within certain groups of elements. He found, for example, that the equivalent weight of strontium is almost exactly equal to the mean weight of calcium and barium, and went on to investigate other such triads in alkalies and halogens. (The first members of a group cannot be fitted into such triads; Döbereiner pointed out in 1829 that fluorine and magnesium stand apart.) He further examined such systems of triads in light of other of their qualities—especially specific gravity and affinity—and found, for instance, that the specific gravity (as well as the atomic weight) of selenium is equal to the mean specific gravity (as well as the mean weight) of sulfur and tellurium. He further found that the intensity of chemical affinity decreases in proportion to increased atomic weight of the salt-forming elements in the triads chlorine-bromine-iodine and sulfur-selenium-tellurium but that it increases with atomic weight of the alkaliforming elements in the triads lithium-sodiumpotassium and calcium-strontium-barium.

Döbereiner was less successful in formulating rules for the oxides of what he called “heavy metal alumforming substances.” He hoped to codify these by “a rigorous experimental revision of the specific gravities and atomic weights,” but found the principle of grouping into triads doubtful for iron-manganesecobalt and nickel-copper-zinc (although lead did seem to represent the proper mean for silver and mercury).

Because of his involvement in practical problems (among others, he was concerned with the fermentation of alcohol and developed methods for improving wine, although he did not publish them in any detail) and because of his heavy and diversified teaching schedule, Döbereiner neglected further development of his work on triads. His merit was civilly rewarded, however, when he was made privy councillor and awarded the Cross of the White Falcon.


I. Original Works. Döbereiner’s writings include Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie (Jena, 1811); Zur Gährungschemie and Anleitung zur Darstellung verschiedener Arten künstlicher Weine, Biere, usw. (Jena, 1822,1844); Chemie für das praktische Leben (Jena, 1824–1825); “Vermischte chemische Erfahrungen über Platin, Gährungschemie, usw. Ein Schreiben an die Herren Kastner and Schweigger,” in Journal für Chemie und Physik, 54 (1828), 412–426; “Gruppierung der Elemente,” in Annalen der Physik, 15 (1829), 301–307; and Zur Chemie des Platins in wissenschaftlicher und technischer Beziehung... (Stuttgart, 1836).

II. Secondary Literature. Wilhelm Prandtl, Deutsche Chemiker in der ersten Hälfte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (Weinheim, 1956), pp. 37–78. Döbereiner’s publication on the triads was reprinted as no. 66 in Ostwald’s Klassiker and was translated in H. M. Leicester and H. S. Klickstein, Source Book in Chemistry 1400–1900 (New York, 1952).

Eduard Farber

Zender, (Johannes Wolfgang) Hans

views updated Jun 08 2018

Zender, (Johannes Wolfgang) Hans

Zender, (Johannes Wolfgang) Hans, distinguished German conductor, composer, and pedagogue; b. Wiesbaden, Nov. 22, 1936. He studied with August Leopolder (piano) and Kurt Hessenberg (composition) at the Frankfurt am Main Hochschule für Musik (1956-59), received private instruction in choral conducting from Kurt Thomas, and was a student of Edith Picht-Axenfeld (piano), Carl Ueter (conducting), and Wolfgang Fortner (composition) at the Freiburg im Breisgau Hochschule für Musik (1959-63). In 1963-64 he held a fellowship at the Villa Massimo in Rome, where he worked with Bernd Alois Zimmermann. After serving as chief conductor of the Bonn City Theater (1964-68), he held another fellowship at the Villa Massimo in Rome in 1968-69. From 1969 to 1972 he was Generalmusikdirektor of Kiel. He was chief conductor of the Saarland Radio Sym. Orch. in Saarbrücken from 1971 to 1984. He served as Generalmusikdirektor of Hamburg from 1984 to 1987, where he was in charge of the State Opera and the Phil. State Orch. He was chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orch. in Hilversum from 1987 to 1991, and concurrently was principal guest conductor of the Opera National in Brussels. In 1988 he became a prof, of composition at the Frankfurt am Main Hochschule für Musik, and in 1999 he also became permanent guest conductor of the SWR (South West Radio) Sym. Orch. of Baden-Baden and Freiburg im Breisgau. In 1978 he was awarded the Saarland Arts Prize and in 1997 the Music Prize and the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt am Main. He was made a member of the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg in 1985, of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in 1989, and of the Bayerische (Bavarian) Akademie der Schönen Künste in Munich in 1994. To mark his 60th birthday, a “Hans Zender Edition” of 17 CDs featuring his conduc-torship appeared in 1997. In 1999 he was the guest of honor at the Villa Massimo in Rome. As a guest conductor, Zender has appeared throughout Germany and widely abroad. He is the author of the vols. Happy New Ears: Das Abenteuer, Musik zu hören (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1991) and Wir steigen niemals in denselben Fluss (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1996). After composing along strict serial lines, he developed an intriguing individual voice in which time and space became crucial elements.


dramatic: Stephen Climax, opera after James Joyce (1979-84; Frankfurt am Main, June 15, 1986; 2 suites, 1984); Don Quijote de la Mancha, theatrical adventure after Cervantes (1989-91; Stuttgart, Oct. 3, 1993; rev. 1994; Heidelberg, Jan. 1999); Nanzen und die Katze, radio play (1995). ORCH.: Schachspiel for 2 Orch. Groups (1969); Modelle (1971-73); Zeitströme (1974); Dialog mit Haydn for 2 Pianos and 3 Orch. Groups (1982); 5 Haiku for Flute and Strings (1982); Lo-Shu y for Flute and Orch. (1987); Koan (Freiburg im Breisgau, Nov. 19,1996); Schumann-Fantasie (1997; Cologne, Sept. 1,1998); Kalligraphie I-X (1998 et seq.). CHAMBER: Concerto for Flute and Solo Instrument (1959); Tre Pezzi for Oboe (1963); Quartet for Flute, Cello, Piano, and Percussion (1964); Trifolium for Flute, Cello, and Piano (1966); Litanei for 3 Cellos (1976); Lo-Shu I for 1 to 3 Flutes, 1 to 3 Cellos, and 1 to 3 Percussion (1977), II for Flute (1979), VI for Flute and Cello (1989; Stuttgart, March 10, 1990), and VII, 4 Enso for 2 Instrumental Groups (Witten, April 27,1997); Hölderlin lesen I for String Quartet and Speaking Voice (1980), II for Speaking Voice, Viola, and Live Electronics (Stuttgart, Nov. 15, 1987), and III, “denn wiederkommen” for String Quartet and Speaking Voice (1991; Hombroich, May 31, 1992). KEYBOARD: 3 Nocturnes for Harpsichord (1963); Chiffren for Harpsichord (1976); Memorial, 3 studies for Piano (1989; Hamburg, June 14,1990); Spazierwege und Spiele, 14 piano pieces for Children (Detmold, Nov. 4,1990). VOCAL: 3 Rondels nach Mallarmé for Alto, Flute, and Viola (1961); 3 Lieder for Soprano and Orch., after Eichendorff (1963-64); Vexilla regis, concerto for Soprano, Flute, Trumpet, and Instrument (1964); Canto I for Chorus, Flute, Piano, Strings, and Percussion (1965), II for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch., after Ezra Pound (1967), III for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, 10 Instruments, and Live Electronics, after Cervantes (1968), IV for 16 Voices and 16 Instruments (1969-72), V for Voices and Percussion ad libitum (1972-74), VI for Bass-baritone, Chorus, and Tape ad libitum (1988; Stuttgart, May 23, 1990), VII: Nanzen No Kyo for 4 Choruses and 4 Instrumental Groups (1992; Cologne, June 11, 1993), and VIII: Shir Hashirim-Lied der Lieder for Soloists, Chorus, Live Electronics, and Orch. (1992-96; first complete perf, Saarbrücken, March 29, 1998); Les Sirènes chantent quand la raison s’endort for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Cello, Vibraphone, and Piano (1966); Muji No Kyô for Voice, Flute, Violin or Cello, Piano, Synthesizer, and Tutti Instrument (1975); Kantate nach Meister Eckhart for Alto, Alto Flute, Cello, and Harpsichord (1980); Die Wüste hat zwölf Ding’ for Alto and Small Orch. (1985); Schubert-Chöre, adaptation of 4 pieces for Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (Bonn, Nov. 19,1986); Jours de Silence for Baritone and Orch. (1987-88); Fürin No Kyo for Soprano, Clarinet, and Ensemble (1988; Graz, Oct. 20, 1989); Animula for Women’s Chorus, Chamber Orch., and Tape (1988-96); Winterreise,“composed interpretation” of Schu bert’s song cycle for Tenor and Small Orch. (Frankfurt am Main, Sept. 21, 1993); Römer VIII, 26 for Soprano, Alto, Organ, and Live Electronics ad libitum (Kassel, April 1, 1994); Johannes III, 1-5 for Chorus (1997; Cologne, June 19, 1998); Music to hear for Soprano, 2 Flutes, and Chamber Ensemble, after Shakespeare (1998; Vienna, Nov. 1999). ELECTRONIC: Bremen Wood (1967); Elemente (1976). OTHER: Orchestration of 5 Préludes by Debussy for Small Orch. (Frankfurt am Main, Nov. 24,1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Zender, (Johannes Wolfgang) Hans

views updated May 14 2018

Zender, (Johannes Wolfgang) Hans (b Wiesbaden, 1936). Ger. conductor and composer. Ass. cond., Freiburg Opera 1959. Prin. cond., Bonn Opera 1964–8; gen. mus. dir. Kiel 1969–71; prin. cond. Saar Radio SO 1971–84. Salzburg Fest. Début 1983. Gen. mus.-dir. Hamburg Opera 1984–7. Cond. Netherlands Radio Chamber Orch. from 1987. Cond. at Bayreuth 1975. London Début 1977. Comps. incl. opera Stephen Climax (1986); Zeitströme (Time Stream) (1974); Cantos I–V, vv., instr.; elec. works.

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Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner

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