A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bärmann


BÄRMANN. The name of a remarkable family of musicians, (1) Heinrich Joseph, one of the finest of clarinet players—'a truly great artist and glorious man' as Weber calls him—born at Potsdam Feb. 17, 1784, and educated at the oboe school there, where his ability procured him the patronage of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. The peace of Tilsit (1807) released him from a French prison, and he then obtained a place in the court band at Munich. He next undertook a tour through Germany, France, Italy, England, and Russia, which established his name and fame far and wide. His special claim on our interest arises from his intimate connection with C. M. von Weber, who arrived in Munich in 1811, and wrote various concert-pieces for Bärmann, which remain acknowledged masterpieces for the clarinet. Meyerbeer also became closely acquainted with him during the congress at Vienna in 1813. Not less interesting and creditable was his intimacy with Mendelssohn, who was evidently on the most brotherly footing with him and his family, and wrote for him the two duets for clarinet and basset-horn published as Op. 113. He died at Munich June 11, 1847, leaving compositions behind him which are highly esteemed for their technical value. (2) His brother Karl, born at Potsdam 1782 and died 1842; a renowned bassoon player, and belonged to the royal band at Berlin. More important was (3) Karl, the son of Heinrich, and the true scholar and successor of his father. He was born at Munich 1820, and during a lengthened tour in 1838 was introduced by his father to the musical world as a virtuoso of the first order. After this he at once took the place of first clarinet in the Munich court band, with which he had indeed been accustomed to play since the age of fourteen. His compositions for the clarinet are greatly esteemed, especially his 'Clarinet School' (Andre, Offenbach) in two parts, the second of which contains twenty grand studies; also a supplement thereto, 'Materialien zur weiteren technischen Ausbildung,'—a collection of difficult passages from his own works. [App. p.530 "He died May 23, 1885."] (4) His son, Karl jun., a fine pianoforte player, is teacher at this time (1875) in the music school at Munich.

Weber's friendship for the Bärmanns has been already mentioned. Two of his letters to them will be found in 'Letters of Distinguished Musicians' (pp. 351, 381). The same collection contains no less than thirteen letters from Mendelssohn to Heinrich, and one to Carl—letters delightful not only for their fun and cleverness, but for the close intimacy which they show to have existed between the two, and the very great esteem which Mendelssohn—a man who did not easily make friends—evidently felt for the great artist he addresses. Other references to Bärmann will be found in Mendelssohn's 'Reisebriefe.'

[ A. M. ]