A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Gallenberg, Wenzel

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GALLENBERG, Wenzel Robert, Graf von, of an old Carinthian family, born at Vienna Dec. 28, 1783, died at Rome March 13, 1839, has his place in musical history as a prolific composer and in virtue of his indirect connexion with Beethoven.

His passion for music, manifested at a very early age, led him to forego the advantages of an official career and to devote himself to the art. His master in the science was Albrechtsberger. On November 3, 1803, being then not quite twenty, he married the Countess Julie Guicciardi, who had been the object of one of Beethoven's transient but violent passions. [Guicciardi.]

During the winter following, young Gallenberg made his appearance in Würth's Sunday Concerts as author of several overtures, which made no impression. In 1805 we find the youthful couple in Naples, where at the great festival of May 31, 1805, in honour of Joseph Bonaparte, Gallenberg prepared the music, which was mostly of his own composition—3 overtures, 8 pieces for wind band, and dances for full orchestra. It was greatly applauded, and was doubtless one cause of his being appointed a year or two later to the charge of the music in the court theatre. The ballet troupe was one of the finest in Europe, and Gallenberg embraced the opportunity of improving the Neapolitan school of instrumental music by giving frequent adaptations of the best German productions—complete movements from Mozart, Haydn, Cherubini, and others, which opened new sources of delight, and afforded young composers new standards of excellence. Thus what the Neapolitan school had done for opera in Germany during the last century, was in some degree repaid by Gallenberg in this.

When Barbaja undertook the management of the court theatre at Vienna (Dec. 21, 1821), he introduced Gallenberg to assist in the management an arrangement which, however, existed but two years. In Jan. 1829 Gallenberg himself became lessee of this theatre on a contract for 10 years, which, though at first successful, soon came to an end from want of capital. From the autumn of 1816 to the spring of 1838 we again find him in Naples employed by Barbaja as ballet composer and director; and in March, 1839, we read of his death at Rome at the age of 56.

Gallenberg wrote from forty to fifty ballets, but the local records alone retain even the names of most. We add the titles of a few which in their day were reported as of some interest to the general musical public.

'Samson' (Naples and Vienna, 1811); 'Arsinoe and Telemaco' (Milan, 1813); 'I Riti Indiani' (Do. 1814); 'Amleto' (Do. 1815); 'Alfred der Grosse' (Vienna, 1820); 'Joan d'Arc' (Do. 1821); 'Margereta' (Do. 1822); 'Ismaana Grab' (Do. 1823); La Caravana del Cairo' (Naples, 1824); Ottavio Pinelli' (Vienna, 1828); 'Das befreite Jerusalem' (Do. Do.); 'Caesar in Egypten' (Do. 1829); 'Theodosia' (Do. 1831); 'Orpheus und Eurydice' (Do. Do.); 'Agnes und Fitz Henri' (Do. 1833); 'Biancas Wahl' (Do. 1835); 'Latona's Rache' (Do. 1838).

[ A. W. T. ]