Open main menu

Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/749

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Elliott & Hill built the present organ in York Minster, since which the Hills have built, amongst many others, the organs of Ely, Worcester, and Manchester Cathedrals, Birmingham Town Hall, St. Peter's, Cornhill, and All Saints', Margaret St., London, Melbourne Town Hall, etc.

[ V. de P. ]

HILLER, Dr. Ferdinand, one of the most eminent of living German musicians, distinguished alike as composer, conductor, pianist, and writer, born of Jewish parents at Frankfort on the Main, Oct. 24, 1811. His first music-lessons were from a violinist named Hofmann, who did little beyond allowing him to form his taste by playing the sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven. Instruction on the pianoforte he received from Aloys Schmidt, and in harmony and counterpoint from Vollweiler. At 10 he played a concerto of Mozart's in public, and at 12 began to compose. Though educated for a learned profession, he was allowed to take up the study of music in earnest; and in 1825 was placed with Hummel at Weimar. Here for a time his attention was absorbed by composition, for Hummel, recognising his obvious bent, allowed him to take his own course. His master's criticisms on his early compositions were severe and disheartening, but Hiller proved the reality of his artistic impulse by never allowing himself to be discouraged from further effort and deeper study, both in music and literature. In 1827 he accompanied Hummel on a professional tour to Vienna, and had the privilege of seeing Beethoven on his death-bed and of witnessing the dissipation of the cloud which had once interrupted his intercourse with Hummel. Of this meeting he has given an interesting account from memory in his 'Aus dem Tonleben' (2nd series). While in Vienna he published his op. 1, a pianoforte quartet written in Weimar. He then returned to Frankfort, but stayed there only a short time, in spite of his advantageous intercourse with Schelble, as he was anxious to push on to Paris, at that time the head-quarters of music and everything else. His stay in Paris lasted from 1828 to 35, with one break caused by the death of his father. He acted for a time as professor in Choron'a 'Institution de Musique,' but afterwards lived independently, perfecting himself as a pianist and composer, and enjoying the best society. There is scarcely a well-known man of that period, particularly among musicians, with whom Hiller was not on good terms. Besides Mendelssohn, whom he met as a boy at Frankfort and with whom he remained in the closest friendship to a late date, he was intimate with Cherubini, Rossini, Chopin, Liszt, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Nourrit, Heine, and many others. Fétis, in his Biographie Universelle gives further particulars of this stay in Paris, and especially of Hiller's concerts, in which Fétis took part. Suffice it to say here that his performances of Bach and Beethoven had an important share in making the works of those great masters better known in France. He was the first to play Beethoven's E♭ Concerto in Paris; and his classical soirees, given in company with Baillot, excited much attention at the time. From Paris he returned to Frankfort, conducted the Cæcilien-Verein in 1836 and 37 during Schelble's illness, and then passed on to Milan, where he again met Liszt and Rossini. Rossi furnished him with the libretto of 'Romilda,' which he set to music, and which, through the intervention of Rossini, was produced at the Scala in 1839, but without success. Here also he began his oratorio 'Die Zerstörung Jerusalems,' perhaps his most important work, and one that interested Mendelssohn so much that he induced Hiller to pass the winter of 1839 in Leipsic, personally superintending its production (April 2, 1840), which was most successful, and was followed by performances at Frankfort, Berlin, Dresden, Vienna, Amsterdam, and elsewhere. On his second journey to Italy in 1841, he went to Rome, and studied old Italian Church music under the guidance of Baini, of whom he has recorded his recollections ('Tonleben,' ii. 101). On his return to Germany he lived successively in Frankfort, Leipsic (conducting the Gewandhaus Concerts of 1843–4), and Dresden. Here he produced two more operas, 'Traum in der Christnacht,' and 'Conradin.' During this time he lived on intimate terms with Spohr, Mendelssohn, the Schumanns, David, Hauptmann, Joachim, and many more illustrious artists. A lasting memorial of this period is preserved in the dedication of Schumann's P. F. Concerto to him—'freundschaftlich zugeeignet.' In 1847 he became municipal capellmeister at Düsseldorf, and in 1850 accepted a similar post at Cologne, where he organised the Conservatorium, and became its first director. This post he still (1879) retains, and in his various capacities of composer, conductor, teacher, and litterateur, has exercised an important influence on music in the Rhenish Provinces. He gave such an impetus to the musical society of which he was conductor, that its concerts have been long considered among the best in Germany. The Lower Rhine Festivals, which he conducted from 1850 as often as they were held at Cologne, have however chiefly contributed to gain him his high reputation as a conductor. As a teacher his career is closely connected with the history of the Cologne Conservatorium. Among his numerous pupils there, the best-known is Max Bruch. He has occasionally left Cologne to make concert-tours in Germany, or longer excursions abroad. He conducted the Italian opera in Paris for a time (1852–53), and visited Vienna and St. Petersburg, where in 1870 he conducted a series of concerts by the Russian Musical Society. England he has visited several times, particularly in 1871 [App. p.673 "1870"], when his cantata 'Nala und Damajanti' was performed at the Birmingham Festival, and in 1872, when he was enthusiastically received both as a pianist and conductor of his own works at the Monday Popular and Crystal Palace Concerts, and also in Liverpool and Manchester. [App. p.673 "he conducted the Philharmonic Concerts in 1852 and died May 10, 1885."]

Hiller's published works (to Feb. 1879) number 183. They include, Chamber music—5 P.F. quartets; 5 trios; 5 string quartets; Sonatas for P.F. alone, and with violin and cello; a suite 'in