A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Roeckel, Joseph

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ROECKEL, Professor Joseph Augustus, was born Aug. 28, 1783, at Neumburg vorm Wald, in the Upper Palatinate. He was originally intended for the church, but in 1803 entered the diplomatic service of the Elector of Bavaria as Private Secretary to the Bavarian Chargé d'Affaires at Salzburg. On the recall of the Salzburg Legation in 1804, he accepted an engagement to sing at the An-der-Wien Theatre at Vienna, where, March 29, 1806, he appeared as Florestan in the revival of Beethoven's 'Fidelio.'[1] In 1823 Roeckel was appointed Professor of Singing at the Imperial Opera; in 1828 he undertook the direction of the opera at Aix-la-Chapelle, and in the following year made the bold experiment of producing German operas in Paris with a complete German company. Encouraged by the success of this venture, Professor Roeckel remained in Paris until 1832, when he brought his company to London, and produced 'Fidelio,' 'Der Freischütz,' and other masterpieces of the German school, at the King's Theatre; the principal artists being Schröder-Devrient and Haitzinger, with Hummel (Roeckel's brother-in-law) as conductor. In 1835 he retired from operatic life, and in 1853 finally returned to Germany, where he died, at Anhalt-Cöthen, in September, 1870.

Augustus, the eldest son of the above, was born Dec. 1, 1814, at Gratz. He was joint Kapellmeister at the Dresden Opera with Richard Wagner, but being, like the latter, involved in the Revolution of 1848, he abandoned music and devoted himself entirely to politics. He died at Buda Pesth on June 18, 1876.

Edward, the second son of Professor Roeckel, was born at Trèves on Nov. 20, 1816, and received his musical education from his uncle J. N. Hummel. He came to London in 1835, and gave his first concert in 1836 at the King's Theatre. He subsequently went on a concert-tour in Germany, and performed with great success at the courts of Prussia, Saxony, Saxe-Weimar, Anhalt-Dessau, etc. In 1848 Mr. Roeckel settled in England, and resides at Bath, where he succeeded the late Henry Field. He is known as the composer of a considerable quantity of pianoforte music, and is otherwise much esteemed.

Joseph Leopold, the youngest son of Professor Roeckel, was born in London in the year 1838. He studied composition at Würzburg under Eisenhofer, and orchestration under Götze, at Weimar. Like his brother, Mr. J. L. Roeckel has settled in England, and lives at Clifton; he is well known as a teacher, and a voluminous composer of songs. His orchestral and instrumental compositions are less well known, but his cantatas 'Fair Rosamond,' 'Ruth,' 'The Sea Maidens,' 'Westward Ho,' and 'Mary Stuart,' have been received with much favour. The first of these was performed at the Crystal Palace in 1871.

[ W. B. S. ]

  1. For Roeckel's own account of his intercourse with Beethoven, see Thayer, vol. ii. p. 294, and vol. iii. 209.