Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Johann Nepomuk Schelble

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 13
Johann Nepomuk Schelble

by Aloysius John Mary Walter


Musician, b. 16 May, 1789, at Huffingen in the Black Forest; d. there 6 Aug., 1837. At the age of 18 he obtained a position as court and opera singer at Stuttgart, and having there begun the study of composition, he wrote an opera ("Graf Adalbert") and other smaller pieces for voices or instruments; there too he was appointed teacher at the musical school of the city. Seven years later (1814), in order to perfect himself in his art, he went to Vienna, where he made the acquaintance of Beethoven. Among other of his compositions during his stay at the capital of Austria, a Missa Solemnis for four voices and orchestra deserves special mention. Upon his arrival in Berlin in 1818, Clemens Brentano, with whom he had formed a friendship, procured him a place as first tenor at Frankfort-on-the-Main. In this city he remained for the rest of his life, and there founded the Society of St. Cecilia, which during the last hundred years has done much for the popularization of classical music among the citizens of this town. He began by giving a weekly musical entertainment in his own house; and so great was the success of these meetings that before long he was able to give them a permanent form under the title Cäcilienverein. Its members steadily increased in numbers: in 1818 he began with 21 members; in a few years there were a hundred. The first concert given was the "Magical Flute" of Mozart; soon followed the best works of Händel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and after 1828 those of Bach, not neglecting the older masters, such as Palestrina, Pergolesi, etc. In 1836 his health became impaired, and he returned to his native country to recruit; but in vain. The following year he died. During his absence Felix Mendelssohn took his place as director of the society. So deep and sincere was Mendelssohn's affection for him, that at the death of his (Mendelssohn's) father, he wrote to Schelble: "You are the only friend who after such a loss can fill the place of my father". Nor were these the sentiments of Mendelssohn alone, but all those who knew him attest that, in loftiness of character and nobility of temperament, he shone forth as an artist and a man in the ideal sense of the word.

WEISMANN, Johann Nepomuk Schelble (Frankfurt, 1838); Festfeier des Cacillien-Vereins zu Frankfurt bei Gelegenheit seines 50 Jahrigen Jubilaums, 1868; Frankfurter Familienblatter, 7 Feb., 1868; Briefe von Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, II, 121-133.

A. Walter.