1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hiller, Johann Adam

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HILLER, JOHANN ADAM (1728–1804), German musical composer, was born at Wendisch-Ossig near Görlitz in Silesia on the 25th of December 1728. By the death of his father in 1734 he was left dependent to a large extent on the charity of friends. Entering in 1747 the Kreuzschule in Dresden, the school attended many years afterwards by Richard Wagner, he subsequently went to the university of Leipzig, where he studied jurisprudence, supporting himself by giving music lessons, and also by performing at concerts both on the flute and as a vocalist. Gradually he adopted music as his sole profession, and devoted himself more especially to the permanent establishment of a concert institute at Leipzig. It was he who in 1781 originated the celebrated Gewandhaus concerts which still flourish at Leipzig. In 1789 he became “cantor” of the Thomas school there, a position previously held by John Sebastian Bach. He died in Leipzig on the 16th of June 1804. Two of his pupils placed a monument to his memory in front of the Thomas school. Hiller’s compositions comprise almost every kind of church music, from the cantata to the simple chorale. But much more important are his operettas, 14 in number, which for a long time retained their place on the boards, and had considerable influence on the development of light dramatic music in Germany. The Jolly Cobbler, Love in the Country and the Village Barber were amongst the most popular of his works. Hiller also excelled in sentimental songs and ballads. With great simplicity of structure his music combines a considerable amount of genuine melodic invention. Although an admirer and imitator of the Italian school, Hiller fully appreciated the greatness of Handel, and did much for the appreciation of his music in Germany. It was under his direction that the Messiah was for the first time given at Berlin, more than forty years after the composition of that great work. Hiller was also a writer on music, and for some years (1766–1770) edited a musical weekly periodical named Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen die Musik betreffend.