Kellner, Ernest Augustus (DNB00)

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KELLNER, ERNEST AUGUSTUS (1792–1839), musician, born at Windsor on 26 Jan. 1792, was the son of an oboe player in Queen Charlotte's private band. Before he was two years of age he began to learn the pianoforte; at five he played one of Handel's concertos before the royal family. His boy's voice was of beautiful quality, and was trained, at the king's desire, by Sir William Parsons. Kellner first sang at a court concert when eight years old. He continued under the immediate patronage of royalty until his father made engagements for him to sing in public. After this the child was heard at the Glee Club, Catch Club, and Ancient concerts (as soloist 1802).

In 1805 Kellner was a midshipman on H.M.S. Plover, and afterwards on the Acasta; but when this ship was ordered to a West Indian station his parents induced him to leave the navy. His voice had changed to a baritone. In 1809–10 he had some instruction from Rauzzini at Bath, and sang at the theatre. He afterwards made tours with Incledon, and was engaged in 1813–14 for concerts in London. In 1815 he married, went to Italy, and studied with great industry under Porri at Florence, and in 1817 under Casella and Nozzari at Naples, where he gave two concerts, and under Crescentini at Bologna. When passing through the principal towns of Switzerland, Bavaria, Saxe-Weimar, &c., Kellner gave successful soirées musicales, at which he was accustomed to sing four pieces and to play the same number. He settled in London as a teacher in December 1820, and sang in the following three seasons at the Philharmonic and other London concerts. A contemporary criticism complained that the rich lower tones of Kellner's voice had passed away, and that ‘its extension upwards by no means compensated for the loss. At the fifth Philharmonic concert he sang Paer's “Se far sogno i miei tormenti,” but with little of the characteristic marking which the author intended, or which just feeling and good taste would dictate. … His technical knowledge is unquestionable; he wants the poetry of his art.’ The ‘Harmonicon’ of 1823 records Kellner's co-operation in concerted vocal music, but makes no mention of soli, during that season. He sang in the provinces with Catalani in 1822.

Kellner was also appointed choirmaster at the Bavarian Chapel; but in 1824 he left England for Venice, where he sang at the Fenice Theatre with success. An illness obliged him to cancel an engagement at Parma, where, however, a mass of his composition was performed at the archduchess's chapel, and he was appointed court pianist. He taught music in Florence for some time. In the course of a concert tour in 1828 he visited Odessa and St. Petersburg (1829–33), Paris, and London again (1834), where he employed himself in teaching and writing. He died of decline on 18 July 1839.

Kellner's hundred or more manuscript compositions include several masses performed at the Bavarian Chapel; an unfinished dramatic piece founded on the revolution in Poland; some lyrical and other poems, and essays on musical education. His published songs include ‘County Guy’ and ‘The lasses with a simpering air’ (1824?); ‘The Blind Mother,’ ‘Speak on,’ ‘Shepherd's Chief Mourner,’ ‘Medora's Song,’ and ‘Though all my dreams’ (1835–9). Kellner composed a symphony and fugue for voices at Bologna, which obtained for him the membership of the Philharmonic Society of Bologna.

[Musical World, xii. 259; Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, ii. 391; Programmes of Ancient Concerts, 1800–2; Dict. of Musicians, 1827, ii. 6. For the elder Kellner, see Mrs. Papendiek's Journal, vol. i.]

L. M. M.