Ignaz Moscheles, classical music composer

Ignaz Moscheles image

Ignaz Moscheles


The son of a prosperous German-speaking Jewish merchant, Ignaz Moscheles was born on May 23, 1794 in Prague. Unlike the seeming majority of parents of famous composers, Ignaz's father, himself a guitar player, was very much in favor of one of his children becoming a musician. His hopes, however, were initially in his daughter. When she protested against learning the piano, he turned his focus on Ignaz. Ignaz took strongly to the instrument. He developed a love for the piano music of Beethoven, which at the time was still considered quite revolutionary. His teacher, Bedřich Diviš Weber, being a devoted disciple of Mozart attempted, albeit in vain, to curve this fondness. Moscheles would remain a lifelong admirer of the music of Beethoven.

Following his father's death, Moscheles settled in Vienna in 1808 and his abilities were substantial enough for him to study with Albrechtsberger and Salieri, the teachers of his great idol. By the middle of the next decade, he had established himself as one of the leading virtuosi in the Austrian capital. He also met Beethoven himself. Impressed with young man's talents, Beethoven entrusted to Moscheles the task of preparing the piano score of his opera Fidelio. Moscheles remained in good relations with Beethoven, and became a most important friend at the end of the composer's life.

After his years in Vienna, Moscheles conducted a series of successful concert tours across Europe, one of which inspired a young Robert Schumann. In 1824, at the invitation of Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy, he travelled to Berlin to give lessons to his two children, Felix and Fanny. Moscheles was remarkably impressed with both children, yet more so with Felix. The two formed an invaluable relationship. The following year, Moscheles settled in London. He established a successful career as a performer, but also became a musical adviser to the Rothschild banking family and an aid to Sir George Smart and the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 1827, he was able to persuade the Society to send much needed funds to an ailing Beethoven. In return, the dying composer offered to compose his Tenth Symphony for the Society—a project which never materialized beyond a few sketches. Eventually, Moscheles was in high demand as a music instructor for the children of aristocratic families, which became the primary source of his income.

When Mendelssohn founded the Conservatory at Leipzig in 1843, he offered his friend Moscheles a post at the school with the promise of ample time for concerts and composing, a luxury he rarely had with his busy schedule in England. After Mendelssohn's death in 1847, Moscheles succeeded him as head of the Conservatory. In his new role, he found himself actively fighting to protect the reputation of his deceased friend, particularly after Richard Wagner's attack against him and Meyerbeer in his article Der Judenthum in der Musik ("Jewry in Music"). In the growing musical rift of the mid-19th century, Moscheles remained wary of the new directions taken by composers such as Wagner and Liszt, yet never outright condemned them. On March 10, 1870, he died in Leipzig.

Despite his busy schedule as a performer, instructor and later at the Leipzig Conservatory, Moscheles managed to produce a significant number of compositions. As expected, most of his compositions involve the piano, which include eight piano concertos, variation sets, sonatas and etudes. Eventually, much of his music came to be seen as old-fashioned, excepting his solo piano works that continued to be studied regardless. In recent years, however, a renewed interest in Moscheles's music has led to better availability of recordings.

Composer Title Date Action
Ignaz Moscheles Sonate mélancolique Op. 49 (1814) 07/08/2010 Play Add to playlist
Ignaz Moscheles Fantaisie dramatique Op.86b 07/08/2010 Play Add to playlist