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Lithograph by C. Motte after F. A. Jung, London, 1830.

Lithograph by C. Motte after F. A. Jung, London, 1830.

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MARSCHNER, Heinrich August (b.Zittau, 16 August 1795; d.Hanover, 14 December 1861)

Marschner, the 150th anniversary of whose death falls on December 14th, is a key figure in the development of German Romantic opera, the essential bridge between Weber and Wagner (both of whom knew and performed his music).

Despite giving early proof of musical talent - a ballet was performed in his native town before his sixteenth birthday - Marschner began by studying law. Contact with Leipzig's lively circle of musicians and writers (from 1813) quickly led him however to his true vocation. In 1815 he was introduced to Beethoven in Vienna and in 1820 had his full-length opera Heinrich IV und d'Aubigné accepted by Weber for performance in Dresden. In 1830 he was appointed Hofkapellmeister in Hanover, where he was to be based for the rest of his life. Of his thirteen operas, the most important are Der Vampyr (Leipzig, 1828), Der Templer und die Jüdin (Leipzig, 1829) and Hans Heiling (Berlin, 1833).

Resourceful in form, orchestral colouring and harmonic language, these are perhaps most important for their development of psychological character study, their disturbed heroes providing a direct line of progression from Mozart's Don Giovanni to Wagner's Flying Dutchman.

Marschner was also well-known to his contemporaries as a prolific composer of songs, male voice part-songs and instrumental music. The songs and ballads include settings (in translation) of Burns, Byron and other British poets. Among the operas, The Vampire with Henry Phillips in the title-role, enjoyed a successful run at London's English Opera House in 1829. A follow-up commission for a new English opera was accepted but cancelled when the latter theatre was destroyed by fire in February 1830. However Der Templer und die Jüdin is based on Scott's Ivanhoe, while Des Falkners Braut (Leipzig, 1830) is dedicated to King William IV.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Leipziger Patrouillen Marsch, Leipzig, 1830. Tre Scherzi Op.50, Braunschweig, c.1830.

Premier Grand Trio Op.29.  Nouvelle edition. Leipzig, c.1860. Grand Trio Op.121. Leipzig, 1842. Juniuslieder, Op.146, Offenbach, c.1850.

Der Templer und die Jüdin, Op.60. New edition of the vocal score, Leipzig, c.1875. Steel engraving by A. Weger, Leipzig, [1865]. Collected edition of Balladen von Heinrich Marschner, Hildburghausen, 1904.

Libretto for a performance of Der Templer und die Jüdin at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 1841.