Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/669

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SPOFFORTH.

Reginald's younger brother, SAMUEL, was born in 1780, appointed organist of Peterborough Cathedral when only eighteen, and in 1807 was made organist of Lichfield Cathedral. He died June 6, 1864, and is now best known as the com- poser of a once popular chant. [D.B.]

SPOHR, Louis, 1 great violinist and famous composer, was born April 5, 1784, at Brunswick, in the house of his grandfather, a clergyman. Two years after, his father, a young physician, took up his residence at Seesen, and it was there that young Spohr spent his early childhood. Both parents were musical: the father played the flute; the mother was pianist and singer. The boy showed his musical talent very early, and sang duets with his mother when only four years of age. At five he began to play the violin, and when hardly six was able to take the violin- part in Kalkbrenner's trios. His first teachers were Riemenschneider and Dufour. The latter, a French e'migre', was so much impressed with his pupil's exceptional talent, that he persuaded the father to send him for further instruction to Brunswick. Along with his first studies on the violin went his earliest attempts at composition, which consisted chiefly of violin duets. The father, a strict, methodical man, invariably in- sisted on his properly finishing everything he began to write, and would allow neither cor- rections nor erasures a wholesome discipline, the advantage of which Spohr throughout his life never ceased to acknowledge.

At Brunswick he attended the grammar-school and continued his musical studies. Hi a teachers were Kunisch, a member of the Duke's band, for the violin, and Hartung, an old organist, for counterpoint. The latter appears to have been a great pedant, and young Spohr did not continue to study under him for very long. Yet this was the only instruction in the theory of music he ever received. According to his own statement it was principally through an eager study of the scores of the great masters, especially Mozart, that he acquired mastery over the technicalities of com- position. His first public appearance was at a school-concert, when he played a concerto of his own with so much success that he was asked to repeat it at one of the concerts given by the Duke's band. Kunisch then insisted on his taking lessons from Maucourt, the leader of the band, and the best violinist at Brunswick. Spohr was only fourteen when he undertook his first artistic tour. With a few letters of intro- duction in his pocket he set out for Hamburg. But there he failed even to get a hearing, and after some weeks had to return to Brunswick on foot, greatly disappointed, his slender means thoroughly exhausted. In his despair he con- ceived the idea of presenting to the Duke a peti- tion asking for means to continue his studies. The Duke was pleased with the lad's open bearing, heard him, was struck with his talent, at once gave him an appointment in his band, and after a short time expressed his willing-

i So. and not Ludwlg, he calls himself la his Autobiography.

VOL. in. PT. 6.

��SPOHR.

��657

��ness to defray the expenses of his further musical education under one of the great recog- nised masters of the violin. Viotti and Ferdinand Eck both declined to receive a pupil, but the latter recommended his brother, Franz Eck, who was just then travelling in Germany. He was invited to Brunswick, and as the Duke was greatly pleased with his performances, an agreement was made that young Spohr should accompany him on his journeys and receive his instruction, the Duke paying one half of the travelling expenses and a salary besides. In the spring of 1802 they started, master and pupil, for Russia. They made, however, prolonged stays at Hamburg and Strelitz, and it was on these oc- casions that Spohr profited most from his master's tuition. Latterly this became very irregular. Spohr however derived much benefit from con- stantly hearing Eck, who certainly was a very excellent violinist, though but an indifferent musician. At this period Spohr, who had an herculean frame and very strong constitution, often practised for 10 hours a day. A.t the same time he composed industriously, and among other things wrote the first of his published violin concertos (op. i) which is entirely in the manner of Rode, and also the violin duets op. 3. In St. Petersburg he met dementi and Field, of whom he tells some curious traits; and after having passed the winter there without playing in public, returned to Brunswick in the summer of 1803. There he found Rode, and heard him for the first time. The playing of this great master filled him with the deepest admiration, and for some time it was his chief aim to imitate his style and manner as closely as possible. After having given in a public concert highly satisfac- tory proof of the progress made during his absence, he again entered on his duties in the Duke's band. An intended journey to Paris in 1804 was cruelly cut short by the loss of his precious Guarnerius violin, the present of a Russian enthusiast. Just before entering the gates of Gottingen the portmanteau containing the violin was stolen from the coach, and all endeavours to recover it proved fruitless. He returned to Brunswick, and after having acquired, with the help of his generous patron, the Duke, another, though not equally good violin, he started for a tour to Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, and other German towns. His success was every- where great, and his reputation spread rapidly. At his Berlin concert he was assisted by Meyer- beer, then only a boy of 13, but already a bril- liant pianist.

In 1805 Spohr accepted the post of leader in the band of the Duke of Gotha. It was there he met and married his first wife, Dorette Scheidler, an excellent harp-player, who for many years appeared with him in all his concerts, and for whom he wrote a number of sonatas for violin and harp, as well as some solo-pieces. Having at his disposal a very fair band, Spohr now began to write orchestral works and vocal com- positions of larger dimensions. His first opera, 'Die Prufung,' which belongs to this period,

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