The New International Encyclopædia/Hiller, Ferdinand

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689601The New International Encyclopædia — Hiller, Ferdinand

HILLER, Ferdinand (1811-85). An eminent German pianist, conductor, and composer, born at Frankfort. From early boyhood he was a student of music, his concert début taking place at ten years of age, followed two years later by the production of his first composition. His first teachers were Hofmann for the violin, Aloys Schmitt for the pianoforte, and Vollweiler for harmony and counterpoint. Later (1825) he became a pupil of Hummel at Weimar. For seven years (1828-35) he was engaged as teacher of composition at Choron's School of Music, Paris, but eventually gave up his position so that he might better equip himself as a pianist and composer. He returned to Frankfort the following year (1836), and devoted himself to composition. His abilities were recognized, and although but twenty-five, he was asked to act as conductor of the Cäcilienverein during the illness of Schelble. He had by this time attracted the notice of Rossini and Mendelssohn, the former assisting him to launch his first opera, Romilda (which was a failure), at Milan, and the latter obtaining for him the entrée to the Gewandhaus, and affording an opportunity for the public presentation of his oratorio Die Zerstörung Jerusalems (1840). After a year of study in Church music at Rome, he returned to Leipzig, and during the season of 1843-44 conducted the Gewandhaus concerts. By this time his position in the musical world was established, and honors and appointments were showered upon him. He became municipal kapellmeister of Düsseldorf in 1847, and in 1850 received a similar appointment at Cologne, in which latter city he founded the well-known Cologne Conservatory. He was conductor at the Italian Opera in Paris during the season of 1852-53. Meanwhile he had increased his reputation and prestige by his conductorship of the Gürzenich concerts and the Lower Rhine music festivals. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin, in 1849, and in 1868 received the title of doctor from the University of Bonn. As a composer Hiller ranks high, not for the magnitude and depth of his work, but for its poetry, elegance, and rhythmic melody. His compositions include operas (six), none of them of more than local significance; six cantatas, one or two of which have been popular in England, and one (The Lorelei) occasionally heard in America. Other works comprise pieces in every form and variety of composition. He was also a very successful lecturer and a forceful writer, his contributions to reviews and newspapers having been since collected in book form. He also published among others: Musikalisches und Persönliches (1870); Wie hören wir Musik? (1880); Goethes musikalisches Leben (1880); and Erinnerungsblätter (1884). He died at Cologne.