Bruckner, Anton

1824 - 1896

Organist, and composer of sacred Austrian church music. Best known for his profoundly original symphonic works.

Born in Ansfelden, he studied at the Augustinian monastery in St. Florian, becoming an organist there in 1851. He continued his studies to the age of 40. Bruckner's genius, unlike that of the child prodigy Mozart and so many others, did not appear until well into the fourth decade of his life.

Bruckner's reputation is based on his symphonies, masses, and motets. The symphonies in particular are famous for their rich harmonic language and complex polyphony. Due to their scale, massive sonorities and imposing structure, the symphonies have often been referred to as cathedrals of sound.


Mendelssohn, Felix

1809 - 1897

Mendelssohn is often regarded as the greatest musical child prodigy after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He wrote 12 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14.
In 1824, still aged only 15, he wrote his first symphony for full orchestra.

At the age of 16 he wrote his String Octet in E Flat Major. The Octet and his overture to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which he wrote a year later, are the best known of his early works.

In 1829 Mendelssohn paid his first visit to Britain, where he had a great success, conducting his First Symphony and playing in public and private concerts.

In 1835 he was appointed as conductor of the Leibzig Gewandhaus Orchetsra. In 1843 he founded the Leipzig Conservatory, where he successfully persuaded Robert Schumann to join him.

After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality is now being recognized and re-evaluated, and he is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.


Offenbach, Jacques

1819 - 1880

Franco-German composer who wrote 90 operettas but best known for his witty operas, like 'Tales of Hoffmann'.

Offenbach was of German birth and was Jewish. He moved to Paris in 1833 to study the cello.

In 1850 he became conductor of the Theatre Francais, but in 1855 rented his own theatre, the Bouffes Parisiens on the Champs Elysees, and began a successful career devoted largely to operetta and operas comiques until his death.

His most popular works are still performed regularly today. He also wrote much dance music, especially the can-can style. His best known operettas in the English-speaking world are Orpheus in the Underworld, La Vie parisienne, La Belle Helene, La Perichole and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.

Offenbach's final opera, The Tales of Hoffmann, was more serious than his other works, reflecting perhaps the eternal wish of the clown to be taken seriously.

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