The Swiss composer, teacher, writer on musical subjects and publisher, Hans-Georg Nägeli, received his musical education in Zürich and Berne.
In 1792 Hans-Georg Nägeli started his music publishing business by producing works by J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel, Girolamo Frescobaldi and other famous masters in a style, surpassing in clearness of type and elegance of production most of his predecessors and contemporaries. In 1803 he started the Répertoire des clavecinistes, a periodical in which he published pianoforte compositions by Clementi, Cramer, Dussek, Steibelt, L.v. Beethoven and others, and which in that year contained the first edition of L.v. Beethoven's sonatas, Op. 30, Nos. 1 and 2 (without number). In the first of these he committed the error of judgement of adding four bars to the first movement, an error which L.v. Beethoven magnanimously forgave, for he wrote to him even on later occasions in affectionate terms and even induced the Archduke Rudolph, in 1824, to subscribe to a volume of his poems.
Apart from toccatas and other pianoforte pieces Hans-Georg Nägeli composed a large amount of vocal compositions for the church, the school and the home, and his 15 books of songs with pianoforte accompaniment contain many numbers which are still popular among students, in elementary schools and among the people, especially his Lied vom Rhein and Freut Euch des Lebens (published in 1794), which became also a favourite in England as Life let us cherish. His merit in the advancement of musical art is very considerable, especially by means of the Schweizerbund, a choral society with branches throughout Switzerland, and the improvement of musical education in elementary schools on the principles of Pestalozzi's system, in which he adopted the method of Michael Traugott Pfeiffer, who had organised the music teaching in Pestalozzi's institute. Nägeli wrote several works on the subject, which became largely text-books for teachers, and he translated his theory into practice by applying it for a period of 20 years in an elementary school founded by himself.
In 1824 Hans-Georg Nägeli lectured on music particularly for the benefit of musical amateurs in many towns of southern Germany. The lectures, which were published by Cotta (Tübingen, 1826), became the subject of a polemic between Nägeli and Professor Thibaut of Heidelberg, which was also published by the former as Der Streit zwischen der alten und neuen Musik (the controversy between old and modern music). To Nägeli belongs the merit of having revived male choir singing (Liedertafel).