A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Reissmann, August

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REISSMANN, August, musician and writer on music, born Nov. 14, 1825, at Frankenstein, Silesia, was grounded in music by Jung, the Cantor of his native town. In 1843 he removed to Breslau, and there had instruction from Mosewius, Baumgart, Ernst Richter, Lüstner, and Kohl, in various branches, including pianoforte, organ, violin, and cello. He at first proposed to become a composer, but a residence in 1850–52 at Weimar, where he came in contact with the new school of music, changed his plans and drove him to literature. His first book was 'From Bach to Wagner' (Berlin, 1861); rapidly followed by a historical work on the German song, 'Das deutsche Lied,' etc. (1861), rewritten as 'Geschichte des Deutschen Liedes' (1874). This again was succeeded by his General History of Music—'Allg. Musikgeschichte' (3 vols. 1864, Leipzig), with a great number of interesting examples; and that by 'Compositionslehre' (3 vols. Berlin, 1866–70). His recent works have been of a biographical nature, attempts to show the gradual development of the life and genius of the chief musicians—Schumann (1865), Mendelssohn (1867), Schubert (1873), Haydn (1879). All books about these great men are interesting, especially when written by practical and intelligent musicians; and Dr. Reissmann's are illustrated by copious examples (in Schubert's case from MS. sources), which much increase their value. In 1877 he published a volume of lectures on the history of music, delivered in the Conservatorium of Berlin, where he has resided since 1863. His chief employment since 1871 has been the completion of the 'Musik Conversationslexikon,' in which he succeeded Mendel as editor, after the death of the latter. The 11th volume, completing the work, appeared in 1879, and it will long remain as the most comprehensive Lexicon of music. Dr. Reissmann unfortunately thought it necessary to oppose the establishment of the Royal High School for Music at Berlin in 1875, and to enforce his opposition by a bitter pamphlet, which however has long since been forgotten. [See Musik, Königliche Hochschule für, vol. ii. p. 437b.] As a practical musician Dr. Reissmann has been almost as industrious as he has been in literature. The list given in the Lexicon comprises 2 grand operas and one comic ditto; an oratorio; 2 dramatic scenes for solos, male chorus, and orchestra; a concerto and a suite for solo violin and orchestra; 2 sonatas for pianoforte and violin; and a great quantity of miscellaneous pieces for piano solo and for the voice—in all nearly 50 published works. He is now (1881) at Leipzig, editing an Illustrated History of German music.

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