Louis Spohr

1784 - 1859

German

Biography

Born in Braunschweig, German composer, violinist and conductor Louis Spohr was born on Arpil 5th 1784. He was very well respected during his own lifetime but after his death, his works fell into relative obscurity. Aged 15, he was employed by Duke Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand of Brunswick as a chamber musician in 1799 after being impressed by his violin playing in a concert. Through working for the Duke, Spohr came into contact with violinist Franz Eck and, after going on a concert tour with him, entered into his tutelage, with Eck completely restructuring Spohr’s technique. Later, Spohr travelled to and performed in Leipzig in 1804. The influential music critic Friedrich Rochlitz said of the concert that he was brought ‘to his knees’ by both Spohr’s playing and by his compositions. This review flung the young composer into fame almost overnight among the entire German-speaking world. He later became good friends with Ludwig van Beethoven, and spent much time at his home whilst working on his works. His longest post of employment was as the director of music in the court of William II, Elector of Hesse’s court of Kassel, which he held from 1822 until his death. Not only were his musical outputs significant, but he also invented the violin chinrest and the orchestral rehearsal mark. His output is representative of the brief period between Classicism and Romanticism and it was not until the late 20th century that his works would return to popularity from the obscurity they fell into after his death. His four clarinet concerti are particularly notable, remaining an important part of the repertory for the instrument.