A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Eybler, Joseph von

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EYBLER, Joseph Edler von, Capellmeister to the Emperor of Austria, born at Schwechat, near Vienna, Feb. 8, 1765. His father, a school-teacher and choir-master, taught him singing and the principal instruments, and a place was procured for him in the boys' seminary at Vienna. While there he took lessons (1777–79) from Albrechtsberger. On the dissolution of the seminary in 1782, Eybler turned his attention to the law, but was driven by the sudden impoverishment of his parents to earn his bread by music. Haydn now proved a true friend, not only encouraging him in his studies but recommending him to Artaria the publisher. In the meantime some of his symphonies were performed, and both Haydn (1787) and Mozart (1790) testified to his ability as a composer and his fitness for the post of Capellmeister. Eybler nursed Mozart during his last illness, and after his death it was to him that the widow at once committed the task of completing the Requiem. He accepted the charge in a letter dated Dec. 21, 1791, and began the work, but soon gave it up. He was appointed choir-master to a church in the suburbs in 1792, and in 1794 to the 'Schotten' monastery in Vienna itself. About this time his first work, 3 String Quartets dedicated in Italian to Haydn, was published by Traeg. In 1810 he was appointed music-master to the imperial children, in 1804 vice-capellmeister, and, on Salieri's retirement in 1824, chief Capellmeister. In 1834 he was ennobled by the Emperor, whose meetings for quartet practice he had regularly attended. A year before he had been obliged to give up the exercise of his profession owing to a paralytic stroke while conducting Mozart's Requiem. He died July 24, 1846.

As a composer Eybler restricted himself entirely to sacred music, Mozart having confirmed his own conviction that his disposition was too simple and quiet for the intrigues and conflicts of the stage. For the 'Tonkünstler Societät,' of which he was many years president, he wrote the cantata 'Die Hirten bei der Krippe' (1794); and for the Emperor 'Die vier letzten Dinge,' an oratorio first performed at court (1810) and afterwards by the Tonkünstler-Societät. His printed works—chamber-music, pieces for pianoforte and other instruments, vocal music, and several symphonies—were favourites in their day, but his church-music is of greater value. Here, the devotional spirit with which the whole is penetrated, the flow of the voice-parts, and the appropriate if at times too powerful instrumentation—all remind us of Michael Haydn at his best. His best work, the Requiem in C minor, which is fine as a whole and even sublime in parts, has been brought into notice by Rochlitz (Allg. mus. Zeitung 1826, No. 19). Haslinger published the Requiem, 7 Masses, 2 Te Deums, 13 Offertoriums, Graduales, and Vespers, the greater part of which are still in use. Eybler's quiet life, undisturbed by jealousy or envy, made him respected by high and low. For many years he held an honourable post, and saw the great heroes of his art, Gluck, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, carried to the grave.—In England Eybler is hardly even a name; and it is probable that in the numerous and extensive collections of pieces and arrangements of Hullah, Novello, Best, Cooper, etc., not a single composition of his is to be found [App. p.630 "Dr. Stainer has edited one movement by Eybler"].

[ C. F. P. ]