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Heinrich Esser (Composer, Arranger)

Born: July 15, 1818 - Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Died: June 3, 1872 - Salzburg, Austria

The German composer and conductor, Heinrich Joseph Esser, was appinyted in 1838, already at age 20, Konzertmeister and then musical director in the court theatre at Mannheim. He was for some years conductor of the 'Liedertafel' at Mayence (Mainz). In 1847 he succeeded O. Nicolai as Kapellmeister of the Imperial Opera (Hofoperntheater) in Vienna, where he was honoured as an artist and beloved as a man. In 1862 he became executive of the "Tonkünstler-Societät" (Musicians-Society) and served as conductor of the Philharmonic concerts in Vienna. In addition, he worked as a music consultant for the publishing house Franz Schott, through which he had contacts with Richard Wagner. In November 1869, shortly after becoming art-member of the board of direction of the Opera, he was compelled by ill-health to resign, and retired on a considerable pension to Salzburg, where he died at age 53 of pulmonary tuberculosis.

As a conductor Heinrich Esser was admirable. Wagner showed his appreciation by entrusting him with the arrangement of his 'Meistersinger' for the piano. Esser was the first to discern the merit of Hans Richter, whom, whi!e a member of his band, he recommended to Wagner as a copyist and arranger, and who ultimately justified the choice by succeeding Esser at the Opera in May 1875 (the former sub-conductor, Dessoff, having filled the chief post between Esser's death and Richter's appointment).

As a composer Heinrich Esser was industrious and successful. The stage was not his forte, and though three of his operas were produced 'Silas' (Mannheim, 1840), Thomas Riquiqui oder Die politische Heirath (Op. 10, text by Carl Gollmick, opera in three acts, premiered 1843 in Aix-la-Chapelle1 or Frankfurt am Main2) and Die beiden Prinzen1 or Die zwei Prinzen2 (Op. 15, text by Carl Gollmick, opera 3 in acts, premiered 1845 in Munich) - they have not kept the boards. His compositions for the voice are numerous and beautiful - some forty books of Lieder, two of duets, four of choruses for men's voices and two for mixed ditto, etc. His symphonies (Opp. 44, 79) and suites (Opp. 70, 75), and orchcstral arrangements of J.S. Bach's organ works (Passacaglia, Toccata in F major), performed by the Philharmonic Society in Vienna, are published by Schott, and a string quartet (Op. 5) by Simrock.

1. Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition; Author: Herr C. Ferdinand Pohl)
2. German Wikipedia Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2009)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2009)

Heinrich Esser: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings of Works for Orchestra

Links to other Sites

Heinrich Esser (Wikipedia) [German]




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