Ludwig Spohr

Ludwig Spohr was born in Brunswick, Germany, April 5, 1784.

He studied as a child with his mother and other teachers at Seesen, whither the family had removed, later at Brunswick under Kunisch and Maucourt, and in 1802, having already been received as a player in the ducal orchestra, he became a pupil of Franz Eck. He soon acquired a great reputation as a violinist. In 1805 he was appointed conductor of the court concerts at Gotha, and in 1812 he was made musical director at the Theater an der Wein, Vienna, where, remaining till 1815, he wrote some of his finest dramatic works. After filling a similar position at Frankfort (1817-19), he became court conductor at Cassel in 1821. There he remained till 1857.

Spohr is regarded as the greatest violin composer of his day. His works for that instrument include solos, concertos, chamber music, etc. Among his other compositions are the operas “Faust” (1818), “Zemire und Azor” (1819), and “Jessonda” *1823), and the oratorios “Die letzten Dinge” (The Last Judgment, 1826), “Des Heilands letzte Stunden” (1835: known in English as Calvary), and “The Fall of Babylon”.

Much of Spohr’s music is of too scientific a nature for full popular appreciation, but his rank among great composers is high. In all, his compositions number nearly two hundred. His “Violin School” (1831), still a standard book, is one of the best works on violin playing ever written.

He died in Cassel, October 22, 1859.