Carl Reinecke was born in Altona, Hamburg, Germany on June
23, 1824. Son of the music teacher J. P. Rudolf Reinecke, he was given a
thorough music education in his early years, began composing at the age of
seven, and made his public debut as a pianist at twelve. Following a concert
tour in 1843 of Denmark and Sweden, Reinecke continued his musical studies in
Leipzig with Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.
After leaving Leipzig, Reinecke accepted in 1846 the post of
Court Pianist for Christian VIII in Copenhagen. However, he only remained in
the position for two years, leaving for Paris in 1848. In the French capital,
he attended weekly "musical evenings" and taught music. Franz Liszt even
selected Reinecke as Cosima's piano teacher. In 1851, he returned to Germany
accepting a professorship at the Cologne Conservatoire where he taught piano
and counterpoint. With the help of Ferdinand Hiller, the Conservatoire's
founder, he also secured a position as music director in Bramen.
In 1860, Reinecke once again came to Leipzig, this time as a
faculty member of the Leipzig Conservatory and director of the Gewandhaus
Orchestra. He became an important member of the Conservatory's faculty, even
before he became its director in 1897, and his tenure was marked by a strong
conservative viewpoint. Though some saw this as reactionary to composers such
as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, the Conservatory was nonetheless respected for the solid and quality training it offered
its students. Among some of the most prestigious students to pass through the
school include Edward Grieg, Leoš Janáček, and Max Bruch.
In 1902, Reinecke retired from the Conservatory and devoted
the remainder of his life to composition. He produced a rather large body of
work, most of which was written for the piano. He composed a total of four
concertos for his instrument, as well as a multitude of cadenzas for those by
other composers. At eighty years of age, he became the earliest-born pianist to
have his playing preserved when he recorded a piano roll for the Welte-Mignon
company. Reinecke died in Leipzig on March 10, 1910 at the age of eighty-five.
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