FREDERICK KUHLAU

I like to thank James M.Schmalbach for scanning the picture.

13thMarch 1786 --- 12 or 18thMarch 1832

Friedrich Kuhlau was born at Ulzen, in Hanover in the year 1786. There is a dispute concerning the precise date. According to Riemann it was the 13th March, according to Pougin and Grove it was the 11th of September.

When he was seven years old, he was sent by his mother one dark winter-night to draw water from a fountain, he fell and wounding himself, lost the use of an eye.

His parents were poor, but they managed to allow him some piano lessons, and they afterward sent him to Brunswick where he attended a singing school and learned several instruments, among them the flute.

From Brunswick he went to Hamburg and studied harmony under Schwencke.
He began to publish his first compositions which were chiefly for the piano and the flute.

In 1810 Hamburg was annexed to the French Empire, and Kuhlau fled to Copenhagen to escape conscription. During the last years of the 18th century and the beginning of this century the Scandinavian and Danish lovers of music depended for the gratification of their taste on the foreigners who visited them or settled among them.

The Abbe Vogler and Naumann were welcomed in Stockholm, Scheibe and Schulz and Gluck were honoured in Copenhagen, and Sarti and Siboni were not the only Italians that exerted a personal musical influence under the northern sky.

Kuhlau was appointed first flute of the court orchestra, with the title of chamber musician. (Riemann says that he was one of the violinists, and thus contradicts the other agreeing biographers.)

Now as the National opera was not in a flourishing condition, Kuhlau planned its restoration and in 1814 he wrote the music to a drama called Roeverbergen The Mountain of the Brigands. The success of this opera was instantaneous, and kuhlau was hailed at once as "The great Danish composer." It is said that he made free use in this opera of national airs, and sought thereby to give the music a local colouring.
A second opera Eliza was also received favourably, and Kuhlau was relieved from his duties in the orchestra and appointed composer to the court.

He then bought a house in Lyngbye, a little town near Copenhagen, and lived there with his parents, whom he brought over from Germany.

It was there that he composed the operas, Lulu, The Enchanted Harp, Hugo and Adelheid and The hill of the Elves. The last named work (1828) is really a vaudeville, in which Danish airs are introduced. These operas were popular in their day in Denmark, but in other countries the composer was known chiefly by his pieces for the flute and for the piano.

In 1825 Kuhlau visited Vienna, and in September he went with friends to call on Beethoven, who was in Baden near by. There was merry making. Kuhlau extemporized a canon, to which Beethoven replied by a canonical pun on his visitor's name, Kuhl, nicht lau (cool, not lukewarm).

The next morning Kuhlau received another punning canon, which by the way was on the notes B-A-C-H., with the following letter. Baden 3rd September 1825, I must confess that the champagne got to much into my head last night, and has once more shown me that it rather confuses my wits than assists them, for though it is usually easy enough for me to give an answer on the spot, I declare I do not in the least recollect what I wrote last night. Think sometimes of your most faithful Beethoven.

In 1830 Kuhlau's house was burned, and many of his manuscripts were destroyed, his father died soon after and chagrin and grief his own health declined.

He was ailing for a year, and died near Copenhagen on the 12th or the 18th of March 1832.

He was buried with pomp and a funeral march of his own composition accompanied him to the grave. Memorial services were held in the theatre and by societies of which he was a member.

The once admired operas, songs and male quartets have not escape oblivion, but his compositions for the flute still afford inestimable models of construction and originality.

His piano music for beginners is of genuine value. It is true, as Weitzmann says that his pieces for the piano do not contain novel thoughts, but they are always written in a serious and noble style, and they serve admirably the purposes of instruction.

The chiefs works of The Beethoven of the flute he has been called, are as follows, 3 grand trios for 3 flutes Opus.13, 3 grand trios for 3 flutes Opus.86, 1 grand trio for 3 flutes Opus.90, 3 quintets for flute and string-quartet Opus.51, grand quartet for 4 flutes in E, Opus.103, 6 sets of 3 duets for 2 flutes, Opus.10, 39, 80, 81, 87, solos with piano Opus.57, 3 fantasias Opus.95, trios, 2 flutes and piano Opus.119, 7 sonatas for flute and piano. Then there are 4 sonatas for violin and piano.

The chief piano compositions are these: Concertos Opus.7, 93, quatuors Opus.32, 50, sonatas for four hands Opus.8, 17, 44, 66, rondos and variations Opus.58, 70, 72, 75, 76, sonatas Opus.5, 20, 26, 30, 34, 46, 52, 55, 59, 60, 88, grand sonata brillante Opus.127, allegro pathetique 4 hands Opus.123, and rondos divertissements, varied themes and danses.

The above was taken from a article written by Philip Hale in 1893, and kindly scanned and donated by James M.Schmalbach, thank you James, I then retyped it so I could use for the Kuhlau page.

For a more in depth article on Kuhlau visit this site.

Last Updated on 15th January 2000
By Steven

And now for the Music

(1071) Sonatina in G major - Op. 20, No. 1 Sequenced by Unknown

My thank to Don Goyette who runs the talented Yuko Ohigashi site, please pay Yuko great web site.

(1070) Sonatina in G major - Op. 20, No. 2 Sequenced by Yuko Ohigashi

(1072) Sonatina - Opus.55 - No.1, sequencer unknown

(1073) Quartet No.1, sequencer UnknownLarge file please click here for pkunzip.exe

(1074) Quartet No.2, sequencer Unknown

(1075) Quartet No.3, sequencer Unknown

(1076) Quartet No.4, sequencer Unknown

(751) Allegro (Sonatine Op.60, No.3). Sequenced by Reginald Steven Ritchie

I like to thank lazybum as he calls himself, for donating the following file.

(428) Opus No.20, No.1, a lovely piece. Seq by ?

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