1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Franz, Robert

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FRANZ, ROBERT (1815–1892), German composer, was born at Halle on the 28th of June 1815. One of the most gifted of German song writers, he suffered in early life, as many musicians have suffered, from the hostility of his parents to a musical career. He was twenty years old when, his father’s animosity conquered, he was allowed to live in Dessau to study organ-playing under Schneider. The two years of dry study under that famous teacher were advantageous chiefly in making him uncommonly intimate with the works of Bach and Handel, his knowledge of which he showed in his editions of the Matthäus Passion, Magnificat, ten cantatas, and of the Messiah and L’Allegro, though some of these editions have long been a subject of controversy among musicians. In 1843 he published his first book of songs, which ultimately was followed by some fifty more books, containing in all about 250 songs. At Halle, Franz filled various public offices, including those of organist to the city, conductor of the Sing-akademie and of the Symphony concerts, and he was also a royal music-director and master of the music at the university. The first book of songs was warmly praised by Schumann and Liszt, the latter of whom wrote a lengthy review of it in Schumann’s paper, Die neue Zeitschrift, which later was published separately. Deafness had begun to make itself apparent as early as 1841, and Franz suffered also from a nervous disorder, which in 1868 compelled him to resign his offices. His future was then provided for by Liszt, Dr Joachim, Frau Magnus and others, who gave him the receipts of a concert tour, amounting to some 100,000 marks. Franz died on the 24th of October 1892. On his seventieth birthday he published his first and only pianoforte piece. It is easy to find here and there among his songs gems that are hardly less brilliant than the best of Schumann’s. Certainly no musician was ever more thoughtful and more painstaking. In addition to songs he wrote a setting for double choir of the 117th Psalm, and a four-part Kyrie; he also edited Astorga’s Stabat Mater and Durante’s Magnificat.