Johann Nepomuk Hummel, (born
Nov. 14, 1778, Pressburg, Hung. [now Bratislava, Slvk.]—died
Oct. 17, 1837, Weimar, Thuringia [Germany]), Austrian
composer and outstanding virtuoso pianist during the period
of transition from Classical to Romantic musical styles.
Hummel studied at an early
age with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at whose house in Vienna
he lived for two years. Later, accompanied by his father, he
toured Bohemia, Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands,
and England for four years as a child-prodigy pianist. In
England he studied a year with Muzio Clementi. Returning to
Vienna in 1793, he took instruction from J.G.
Albrechtsberger, Joseph Haydn (whom he had met in London),
and Antonio Salieri. From 1804 to 1811 he was chapelmaster
to the Esterházy family (a post formerly held by Haydn).
After further successes as a pianist, conductor, and
teacher, he became chapelmaster at Weimar (1818).
Hummel’s most important
compositions are his piano works, consisting of trios,
sonatas, rondos, and six concerti, all elegant in style and
virtuosic in their melodic writing and ornamentation.
Fluent, clear in texture, and well suited to the light
Viennese piano action of his day, these works nevertheless
lack the emotional depth and coherence evident in the works
of Hummel’s great contemporary rival, Ludwig van Beethoven,
with whom he maintained an uneasy friendship. (He was a
pallbearer at Beethoven’s funeral.) Hummel also composed
nine operas, three masses, a mandolin concerto, and chamber
works, notably the Septet in D Minor. He made innovations in
fingering methods, published in his Klavierschule (“Piano
School”) in 1828.
A surviving manuscript of Hummel's work, probably in his own hand
Hummel's music took a different direction from that of Beethoven.
Looking forward, Hummel stepped into modernity through pieces like
his Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op. 81, and his Fantasy, Op. 18, for
piano. These pieces are examples where Hummel may be seen to both
challenge the classical harmonic structures and stretch the sonata
His main oeuvre is for the piano,
on which instrument he was one of the great virtuosi of his day. He
wrote eight piano concertos, ten piano sonatas (of which four are
without opus numbers, and one is still unpublished), eight piano
trios, a piano quartet, a piano quintet, a wind octet, a cello
sonata, two piano septets, a mandolin concerto, a mandolin sonata, a
Trumpet Concerto in E major written for the Keyed trumpet (usually
heard in the more convenient E-flat major), a "Grand Bassoon
Concerto" in F, a quartet for clarinet, violin, viola, and cello,
four hand piano music, 22 operas and Singspiels, masses, and much
more, including a variation on a theme supplied by Anton Diabelli
for Part II of Vaterländischer Künstlerverein.
Although thought of in terms of the
piano in modern times, Hummel was seriously and constantly
interested in the guitar, and he was talented with the instrument.
He was prolific in his writing, and his compositions for it begin
with opus 7 and finish with opus 93. Other guitar works include Opp.
43, 53, 62, 63, 66, 71 and 91, which are written for a mixture of
Hummel's output is marked by the
conspicuous lack of a symphony. Of his eight piano concertos the
first two are early Mozartesque compositions (S. 4/WoO 24 and S. 5)
and the later six were numbered and published with opus numbers (Opp.
36, 85, 89, 110, 113, and posth. 1).
Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Piano Concerto in F Major, Op. posth. 1
Piano Concerto in F Major, Op. posth. 1
I. Allegro moderato
II. [No tempo indication] 13:46
III. Allegro con brio 20:16
London Mozart Players
Howard Shelley, piano/conductor
Johann Nepomuk Hummel - Piano
Concerto in A-minor, Op.85 (1816)