A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Hauptmann, Moritz

HAUPTMANN, Moritz, Doctor of Philosophy, German composer and eminent theorist, and Cantor of the Thomas School at Leipsic, born at Dresden Oct. 13, 1792. His education was conducted mainly with a view to his father's profession of architecture; but he was also well grounded in music at an early age. He studied the violin under Scholz, and harmony and composition under various masters, concluding with Morlacchi. As Hauptmann grew up he determined to adopt music as a profession. To perfect himself in the violin and composition, he went in 1811 to Gotha, where Spohr was concert-meister, and the two then contracted a life-long friendship. He was for a short time violinist in the court band at Dresden (1812), and soon afterwards entered the household of Prince Repnin, Russian Governor of Dresden, with whom he went to Russia for four years in 1815. On his return to Germany he became violinist (1822) in Spohr's band at Cassel, and here gave the first indications of his remarkable faculty for teaching the theory of music. F. David, Curschmann, Burgmüller, Kufferath and Kiel, are among the long list of his pupils at that time. In 1842, on Mendelssohn's recommendation, he was appointed Cantor and Musik-director of the Thomas-Schule, and professor of counterpoint and composition at the new Conservatorium at Leipsic, where he thenceforward resided. Here he became the most celebrated theorist and most valued teacher of his day. Not only are there very few of the foremost musicians in Germany at the present moment who do not look back with gratitude to his instructions, but pupils flocked to him from England, America and Russia. Among his pupils will be found such names as Joachim, von Bülow, Cossmann, the Baches, Sullivan, Cowen, etc. etc. (See the list at the end of his letters to Hauser.) He died at Leipsic Jan. 3, 1868, loaded with decorations and diplomas.

In teaching, Hauptmann laid great stress on the two fundamental æsthetical requirements in all works of art, unity of idea and symmetry of form, and his compositions are admirable examples of both. With such views he naturally had little sympathy with the new destructive school, but he was always courteous to those who differed from him. His respect for classical forms never trammelled him; and this very independence kept him free from party spirit and personal animosity. Altogether he offers a beautiful example of a life and work the value of which was acknowledged even by his bitterest controversial opponents. Nothing but a life of single devotion to the cause of art, could have exacted such universal homage. His works are characterised by deep thought, philosophic treatment, imagination, and much sense of humour. His chief work is 'Die Natur der Harmonik und Metrik' (1853, 2nd ed. 1873). His mathematical and philosophical studies had given a strictly logical turn to his mind, and in this book he applies Hegel's dialectic method to the study of music. Gifted with an ear of unusual delicacy, he speculated deeply on the nature of sound, applying to the subject Hegel's formulas of proposition, counter-proposition, and the ultimate unity of the two. The book is not intended for practical instruction, and is indeed placed beyond the reach of ordinary musicians by its difficult terminology. But by those who have mastered it, it is highly appreciated, and its influence on later theoretical works is undeniable. The obvious endeavour of recent authors to treat the theory of music on a really scientific basis, is mainly to be attributed to the impetus given by Hauptmann. His other works are an 'Erläuterung zu der Kunst der Fuge von J. S. Bach'; various articles on acoustics in Chrysander's 'Jahrbücher'; 'Die Lehre von der Harmonik,' a posthumous supplement to the 'Harmonik und Metrik,' edited by his pupil Dr. Oscar Paul; 'Opuscula,' a small collection of articles musical and philosophical, edited by his son; and his 'Letters,' of which 2 vols. (1871) are addressed to Hauser, late director of the Munich Conservatoire, and the third, edited by Hiller (1876), to Spohr and others. Hauptmann published some 60 compositions, mainly interesting from the characteristic harmony between the whole and its parts, which pervades them. Idea and execution are alike complete; the thought is clear, the style correct; while their symmetry of form and purity of expression make them true works of art and perfect reflections of the harmonious graceful nature of their author. In early life he wrote chiefly instrumental music Sonatas for P.F. and violin (op. 5, 23); Duos for 2 violins (op. 2, 16, 17) etc., which betray the influence of Spohr. During the latter half of his life he wrote exclusively for the voice. Among his vocal compositions, more important as well as more original—than the instrumental may be named, a Mass (op. 18); a Mass with orch. (op. 43); Choruses for mixed voices (op. 25, 32, 47), perfect examples of this style of writing; 2-part songs (op. 46); and 3-part canons (op. 50). Op. 33, six sacred songs, were published in English by Ewer & Co. Early in life he composed an opera, 'Mathilde,' which was repeatedly performed at Cassel. His part-songs are eminently vocal, and widely popular, and are stock-pieces with all the Associations and church-choirs throughout Germany.

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