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Past Images of the Month - March 2020

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Engraving by Carl Meyer, Nuremberg, [c.1827].

Engraving by Carl Meyer, Nuremberg, [c.1827].

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MOSCHELES, Ignaz (b.Prague, 23 May 1794; d.Leipzig, 10 March 1870)


Moscheles, who died 150 years ago this month, is a key figure in 19th century music history: the close friend of Beethoven and Mendelssohn, important influence on Chopin and Schumann, brilliant international pianist, sought-after teacher and prolific composer.  Born in Prague, he studied in Vienna and toured widely before settling in London, where he was based for twenty-one years from 1825.  His London debut had created a sensation at the Philharmonic Society in 1821: in 1832 he was made a Director of the society and conducted the first performance of his own Symphony in C.  Meanwhile he had become a busy piano professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1840 was appointed Pianist to Prince Albert.

The symphony is one of a handful of larger-scale works scattered through a predominantly solo (or drawing-room related) ouput and recent revivals of some of the others (e.g. seven of the eight piano concertos and a late cello sonata dedicated to Schumann) suggest that Moscheles's own attitude to them may have been unduly modest.  However his challenging Studies and scrupulous editions of classical repertoire remained essential ingredients of piano study throughout the world until at least WW1.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Beethoven : Overture to Fidelio transcribed for 4 hands by Moscheles.  London, [c.1825].  The commission to arrange the piano and vocal and piano solo scores of Beethoven's opera in its final version had been the means of introducing Moscheles to the composer and establishing a continuing friendship.  Both arrangements were published by the Vienna publisher Artaria in 1814.  The present arrangement for 4 hands is a later version, first published in London. La Marche d'Alexandre variée, Op.32. Nouvelle edition revue. Piano score. Vienna, [c.1823]. This brilliant concerted work dating from 1815 was the means of establishing Moscheles's international reputation as pianist and composer. Bonbonnière Musicale, Op.55. London, [1822]. The title page lithograph is after a drawing by Horace Vernet.

Mendelssohn & Moscheles : Duo Concertant pour deux pianos avec accompagnement d'Orchestre, Op.87b. Leipzig, [1849]. This joint composition was produced for Moscheles's London concert at the King's Theatre on 1 May 1833. Anticipations of Scotland, Op.75. London, [1828].  This is a late impression but signed by the composer. Hommage à Haendel, Grand Duo, Op.92. Leipzig, [1835]. As Op.92 the complete work was first published in London in 1835, with a dedication to the composer's close friend William Horsley.

Programme of the Farewell Concert for the violinist Franz Cramer (1772-1848), Hanover Square Rooms, 27 June 1844. A highlight in the programme was the joint appearance of Mendelssohn and Moscheles in the latter's Hommage à Handel, Op.92. The next day's Morning Post reported "Mendelssohn and Moscheles ... Their performance animated the company to the highest degree." This brilliant 2-piano work had partly originated in a commission from John Baptist Cramer (brother of Franz and also appearing on the present occasion) for his Annual Concert in London in 1822.

Beethoven Works edited by J. Moscheles. Complete Edition. London, [1834 onwards]. Hallberger's Prachtf-Ausgabe der Classiker. Stuttgart, [1858 onwards]. Hallberger's Prachtf-Ausgabe der Classiker. Original wrapper for one of the items. Stuttgart, [1859]. This copy belonged to William Sterndale Bennett.