In 1698 he was sent as ambassador to Brussels, and after the death of Ernest Augustus in the same year he entered the service of the elector palatine, John William, at Düsseldorf, where he held the offices of privy councillor and protonotary of the holy, see. Invested with these high honours, Steffani could scarcely continue to produce dramatic compositions in public without grievous breach of etiquette. But his genius was too importun- ate to submit to repression; and in 1709 he ingeniously avoided the difficulty by producing two new operas—Etiea at Hanover and Tassilone at Düsseldorf—in the name of his secretary and amanuensis Gregorio Piva, whose signature is attached to the scores preserved at Buckingham Palace. Another score—that of Arminio—in the same collection, dated Düsseldorf, 1707, and evidently the work of Steffani, bears no composer’s name.
Steffani did not accompany the elector George to England; but in 1724 the Academy of Antient Musick in London elected him its honorary president for life; and in return for the com- pliment he sent the association a magnificent Stabat Mater, for six voices and orchestra, and three fine madrigals. The manu- scripts of these are still in existence, and the British Museum possesses a very fine Confitebor, for three voices and orchestra, of about the same period. All these compositions are very much in advance of the age in which they were written; and in his operas Steffani shows an appreciation of the demands of the stage very remarkable indeed at a period at which the musical drama was gradually approaching the character of a merely formal concert, with scenery and dresses. But for the manuscripts at Buckingham Palace these operas would be utterly unknown; but Steffani will never cease to be remembered by his beautiful chamber-duets," which, like those of his contemporary Carlo Maria Clari (1669–1745), are chiefly written in the form of cantatas for two voices, accompanied by a figured bass The British Museum (Add. MSS. 5055 seq.) possesses more than a hundred of these charming compositions, some of which were published at Munich in 1679. Steffani visited Italy for the last time in 1727, in which year Handel, who always gratefully remembered the kindness he had received from him at Hanover, once more met him at the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome. This was the last time the two composers were destined to meet. Steffani returned soon afterwards to Hanover, and died on the 12th of February 1728 while engaged in the transaction of some diplomatic business at Frankfort.
Steffani stands somewhat apart from contemporary Italian composers (e.g. Alessandro Scarlatti) in his mastery of instrumental forms. His opera overtures, &c, show a remarkable combination of Italian suavity with a logical conciseness of construction which is due to French influence. In vocal music he is certainly inferior to Scarlatti, and none of his famous duets, despite their charm, can compare for seriousness of intention with the Sicilian’s master’s chamber-cantatas. His instrumental music, however, is historically important as a factor in the artistic development of Handel.
STEFFENS, HENRIK (1773–1845), German philosopher, scientist and poet, of Norwegian extraction, was born on the 2nd of May 1773 at Stavanger, and died in Berlin on the 13th of February 1845. At the age of fourteen he went with his parents to Copenhagen, where he studied theology and natural science. In 1796 he lectured at Kiel, and a year later went to Jena to study the natural philosophy of Schelling. He went to Freiberg in 1800, and there came under the influence of Werner. After two years he returned to Copenhagen, but his lectures excited so much disapproval that he took a professorship at Halle in 1804. During the War of Liberation he served as a volunteer in the cause of freedom, and was present at the capture of Paris. From 1811 he was professor of physics at Breslau until 1832, when he accepted an invitation to Berlin. Steffens was one of the so-called Philosophers of Nature, a friend and adherent of Schelling and Schleiermacher. More than either of these two thinkers he was acquainted with the discoveries of modern science, and was thus enabled to correct or modify the highly imaginative speculations of Schelling. He held that, throughout the scheme of nature and intellectual life, the main principle is Individualization. As organisms rise higher in the scale of development, the sharper and more distinct become their outlines, the more definite their individualities. This principle he endeavoured to deduce from his knowledge of geology, in contrast to Lorenz Oken, who developed the same theory on biological grounds. The influence of his views was con- siderable. Not only did Schelling and Schleiermacher modify their theories in deference to his scientific deductions, but the intellectual life of his contemporaries was considerably affected. His lectures in Copenhagen in 1802 were attended by many leading Danish thinkers, such as Oehlenschlager and Grundtvig. Schleiermacher was so much struck by their excellence that he endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to obtain for Steffens a chair in the new Berlin University in 1804, in order that his own ethical teachings should be supported in the scientific department.
STEIBELT, DANIEL (c. 1764–1823), German pianist and composer, was born at the earliest in 1764 or 1765 in Berlin. He was indebted to the crown prince Frederick William for his musical education. Very little is known of his artistic life before 1790, when he settled in Paris and attained great popu- larity as a virtuoso by means of a pianoforte sonata called La Coquette, which he composed for Queen Marie Antoinette; his dramatic opera entitled Roméo et Juliette, produced at the Th6atre Feydeau in 1793, was equally successful. In 1796 Steibelt removed to London, where his pianoforte-playing attracted great attention. In 1798 he produced his concerto (No. 3, in E flat) containing the famous “Storm Rondo”—a work that ensured his popularity. In the following year Steibelt started on a professional tour in Germany; and, after playing with some success in Hamburg. Dresden, Prague and Berlin, he arrived in May 1800 at Vienna, where he challenged Beethoven to a trial of skill. His discomfiture was complete and he retired to Paris. During the next eight years he lived alternately in that city and in London. In 1808 he was invited by the emperor Alexander to St Petersburg, succeeding Boieldieu as director of the royal opera in 1811. Here he resided in the enjoyment of a lucrative appointment until his death on the 20th of September 1823.
STEIN, CHARLOTTE VON (1742–1827), the friend of Goethe, was born at Weimar on the 25th of December 1742, the eldest daughter of the Hofmarschall (master of the ceremonies) von Schardt. She became in her sixteenth year lady-in-waiting to the duchess Anna Amalia, the accomplished mother of Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar. In 1764 she married Freiherr Friedrich von Stein, master of the horse to the duke, and seven children were the issue of the union. Goethe, who arrived in Weimar in 1775, was soon captivated by the charm of this lady, his senior by seven years, and the Seelenbund (union of souls) they formed exercised a furthering and ennobling influence upon Goethe’s life and work. For more than ten years Charlotte von Stein was his constant companion, and by her bright and genial nature and friendship she stimulated his efforts and assuaged his cares. On Goethe’s return from Italy in 1788 the previous intimate