Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/84

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72
KREUTZER.
 

at the Josephstadt theatre, where he produced his two best works, 'Das Nachtlager in Granada' (1834) and a fairy opera 'Der Verschwender,' which have both kept the boards. At a later date he was appointed Capellmeister at Cologne, and in 1843 conducted the 43rd Festival [App. p.693 corrects to "in 1841 conducted the 23rd Festival"] of the Lower Rhine. Thence he went to Paris, and in 1846 back to Vienna. He accompanied his daughter, whom he had trained as a singer, to Riga, and there died, Dec. 14, 1849.

Kreutzer composed numerous operas; incidental music to several plays and melodramas; an oratorio, 'Die Sendung Mosis,' and other church-works; chamber and pianoforte music; Lieder, and part-songs for men's voices. Of all these, a list is given by Fétis, who speaks of a one-act drama 'Cordelia' as the most original of his works. The two operas already mentioned, and the part-songs alone have survived. In the latter, Kreutzer displays a flow of melody and good construction; they are still standard works with all the German Liedertafeln, and have taken the place of much weak sentimental rubbish. 'Der Tag des Herrn,' 'Die Kapelle,' 'Märznacht' and others are universal favourites, and models of that style of piece. Some of them are given in 'Orpheus.' As a dramatic composer, his airs are better than his ensemble pieces, graceful but wanting in passion and force. His Lieder for a single voice, though vocal and full of melody, have disappeared before the more lyrical and expressive songs of Schubert and Schumann.

[ A. M. ]

KREUTZER,[1] Rodolphe, violinist and composer, born at Versailles, Nov. 16, 1766. He studied first under his father, a musician, and according to Fétis had lessons on the violin from Stamitz, but he owed more to natural gifts than to instruction. He began to compose before he had learnt harmony, and was so good a player at 16, when his father died, that through the intervention of Marie Antoinette, he was appointed first violin in the Chapelle du Roi. Here he had opportunities of hearing Mestrino and Viotti, and his execution improved rapidly. The further appointment of solo-violinist at the Théâtre Italien gave him the opportunity of producing an opera. 'Jeanne d'Arc,' 3 acts (May 10, 1790), was successful, and paved the way for 'Paul et Virginie' (Jan. 15, 1791), which was still more so.

The melodies were simple and fresh, and the musical world went into raptures over the new effects of local colour, poor as they seem to us. The music of 'Lodoïska,' 3 acts (Aug. 1, 1791), is not sufficiently interesting to counterbalance its tedious libretto, but the overture and the Tartar's March were for long favourites. During the Revolution Kreutzer was often suddenly called upon to compose opéras de circonstance, a task he executed with great facility. In 1796 he produced 'Imogène, ou la Gageure indiscrète,' a 3-act comedy founded on a story of Boccaccio little fitted for music. At the same time he was composing the concertos for the violin, on which his fame now rests. After the peace of Campo Formio (Oct, 17, 1797) he started on a concert-tour through Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands; the fire and individuality of his playing, especially in his own compositions, exciting everywhere the greatest enthusiasm.

In 1798 Kreutzer was in Vienna in the suite of Bernadotte (Thayer's 'Beethoven,' ii. 21), and we must presume that it was at this time that he acquired that friendship with Beethoven which resulted, 8 years later, in the dedication to him of the Sonata (op. 47) which will now be always known by his name—though he is[2] said never to have played it—and that he became 'first violin of the Academy of Arts and of the Imperial chamber-music'—titles which are attributed to him in the same dedication. He had been professor of the violin at the Conservatoire from its foundation, and on his return to Paris he and Baillot drew up the famous 'Méthode de Violon' for the use of the students. He frequently played at concerts, his duos concertantes with Rode being a special attraction. On Rode's departure to Russia in 1801, Kreutzer succeeded him as first violin solo at the Opéra, a post which again opened to him the career of a dramatic composer. 'Astyanax,' 3 acts (April 12, 1801); 'Aristippe' (May 24, 1808), the success of which was mainly due to Lays; and 'La Mort d'Abel' (March 23, 1810), in 3 poor acts, reduced to two on its revival in 1823, were the best of a series of operas now forgotten. He also composed many highly successful ballets, such as 'Paul et Virginie' (June 24, 1806), revived in 1826; 'Le Carnaval de Venise' (Feb. 22, 1816), with Persuis; and 'Clari' (June 19, 1820), the principal part in which was sustained by Bigottini. He was appointed 1st violin in the chapelle of the First Consul in 1802, violin-solo to the Emperor in 1806, maître de la chapelle to Louis XVIII. in 1815, and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1824. He became vice-conductor of the Académie in 1816, and conductor in chief from 1817 to 1824. A broken arm compelled him to give up playing, and he retired from the Conservatoire with the year 1825. His last years were embittered by the decline of his influence and the impossibility of gaining a hearing for his last opera, 'Mathilde.' An apoplectic seizure affected his mind, but he lingered till June 6, 1831, when he died at Geneva.

Besides his 39 operas and ballets, all produced in Paris, he published 19 violin-concertos; duos, and 2 symphonies concertantes, for 2 violins; études and caprices for violin solo; sonatas for violin and cello; 15 trios, and a symphonie concertante for 2 violins and cello; 15 string quartets; and several airs with variations.

Kreutzer's brother Auguste, born at Versailles 1781, was a member of the Chapelle de l'Empereur, and of the Chapelle du Roi (1804–30); and succeeded his brother at the Conservatoire, Jan. 1, 1826, retaining the post till his death, at Paris Aug. 31, 1832. His son Leon, born in Paris 1817,

  1. His name has been often transmuted into Kretsche by Frenchmen who thought they were pronouncing like Germans. [App. p.693 "We need not complain of this, for in the advertisements of Ernst's concert in the London papers of 1884 it is given as 'Greitzer'! See 'Mus. World,' June 20, 1844, p. 209c."]
  2. See Berlioz, 'Voyage,' i. 264, for this and for an amusing account of Kreutzer's difficulties over Beethoren's Second Symphony.