Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/472

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456

��WILBYE.

��the library of Rev. William Gostling of Can- terbury in 1777. He dated the dedication of his first set of madrigals from the Augustine Fryers,' and this fact, with the probable conjec- ture that he was a teacher of music and possibly a lutenist, are all that is known of the biogra- phy of one who, in his particular walk, had no superior. [W.H.H.]

WILD, FBANZ, one of the best-known of Ger- man tenors, the son of homely country folk, born Dec. 31, 1791, at Hollabrunn in Lower Austria. At his baptism the cold water made him cry so lustily that Blacho, the schoolmaster, re- marked, 'That child will make a fine singer some day ; he shows a turn ( for it already, and I must teach him, let us hop'e with success' a prophecy destined to be brilliantly fulfilled. In due time the boy, well-trained, entered the choir of the monastery at Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, and thence was promoted to the court chapel. His voice changed with extreme mpidity in his 1 6th year, the process only lasting two months, after which he became a chorus-singer, first at the Josefstadt, and then at the Leopoldstadt theatres. A happy accident brought him into notice. General excitement about the war pre- vailing at the time, some battle-songs by Collin (of Beethoven's ' Coriolan '), set to music by Weigl, were being sung at the theatre, when one night the solo-singer fell ill, and Wild, though unprepared, took his place, and sang so finely that he was received with acclamation. He was at once offered an engagement for the Karnthnerthor theatre, to sing in the chorus and take subordinate parts. His powerful sonorous voice told with so much effect one night in the quartet in 'Uthal,' that Hum- mel recommended him to Prince Esterhazy (whose band at Eisenstadt Hummel was con- ducting), and he entered on an engagement for six years from Oct. n, 1810. Soon after, how- ever, Count Ferdinand Palffy endeavoured to secure him for the theatre 'an der Wien,' but Prince Esterhazy declined to let him go. Wild pressed for his release, which was at last granted in Sept. 1811. In the meantime he had taken the law into his own hands, and was singing Ramiro in Isouard's ' Cendrillon ' at the above theatre, first as Gatt (July 9), and then (Aug. 28) with a permanent engagement. His success was great, and when the theatre was united under one management with the Karnth- nerthor (1814) he removed thither, and as Jean de Paris (1815) excited universal admiration by the liquid tones of his voice. For two years lie was acting there with those excellent singers FORTI [vol. i. 556] and VOGL [vol. iii. 323], his last appearance being June 4, 1816, after which he started on a tour through Frankfort, Mayence, Leipzig, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, and Prague. On Nov. 9, 1816, he appeared for the first time as Sargines at Darmstadt, having been made Kammersanger to the Grand Duke of Hesse. Here he remained till 1825, crowds flocking to see him when he played, ami offering him almost princely homage. From Darmstadt he went to

��WILD.

Paris, principally for the sake of further study with Rossini and Bordogni, and after this ac- cepted an invitation to Cassel as Kammersanger. In July 1829 he went to Vienna, his engagement being made permanent on Nov. I, 1830, and there he remained till 1845, except for occasional tours. One of these brought him to London in 1840, where he appeared with Staudigl and Sabine Heinefetter at the Princess's in 'Das Nachtlager,' ' Jessonda,' 'Iphige"nie enTauride,' and ' Der Freischutz.' His last appearance on the stage was at the Karnthnerthor theatre, March 24, 1845, his part being Abayaldos in 'Doni Sebastian.' After this he became re"gisseur. Wild celebrated the soth anniversary of the commencement of his career by a concert (Nov. 8,1857), i n which all the principal singers of the court opera took part. Even then he was listened to with pleasure from the perfection of his style and the remarkable preservation of his voice. Latterly it had acquired so much the tone of a baritone that he sang such parts as Don Juan, Zampa, and Sever with irresistible power and energy. The parts in which Wild excelled, besides those from classical and lyric operas already mentioned, were Telasco ('Cor- tez'), Arnold ('Tell'), Orestes, Masaniello, Eleazar, Georges Brown, Licinius ('Vestale'), Arthur Ravenswood ('Lucia'), and especially Tamino, Florestan, Joseph (Meliul), and Othello. High notes he never forced, but preserved the full power and freshness of his middle register, which told most effectively in declamation and recita- tive. Although short he was well and compactly built, with eyes full of fire, an expressive coun- tenance, and all the qualities fitted to give effect to his acting, which was natural and lifelike without exaggeration. As a concert-singer he was always well received, but perhaps his best singing of all was in church. Those privileged to hear him sing the Lamentations during Holy Week will never forget how the full round tones of his superb voice floated forth in perfect devotional feeling.

One of the happiest events of Wild's life was his meeting with Beethoven in 1815, at a festival-concert on the birthday of the Empress of Russia. The last number of the programme was the quartet in Fidelio, ' Mir ist so wunder- bar.' Through some curious chance Beethoven himself appeared, and extemporised for the last time in public, before an audience of monarchs and statesmen. Wild had arranged to exchange an air of Stadler's for 'Adelaide' : Beethoven was delighted, and at once offered to accompany it. ' His pleasure at my performance,' continues Wild, ' was so great that he proposed to instrument the song for orchestra. This never came off, but he wrote for me the Cantata l ' An die Hoffnung ' (to Tiedge's words) which I sang to his accom- paniment at a very select matine'e/ On the 2oth of April of the next year, Wild gave a little musical party at which he sang the same songs ; Beethoven again accompanied him, and this was

i Op. 94. composed In 1816 ; not to be confounded with an earlier letting ol the same poem, op. 32, composed 1805.

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