The Austrian pianist, composer and eminent teacher, Ernst Pauer, was born into a musical family. His father was first minister of the Lutheran church, director of the theological seminary in Vienna, and superintendent-general of the Lutheran churches of the Austrian Empire. His mother was a Streieher, of the great pianoforte making family. He studied the pianoforte, first under Theodor Dirska, and then under Mozart's son, Wolfgang Amadeus, and harmony and counterpoint under Sechter. He appeared first in public in 1842; one of his compositions was published in that year. In 1845 he went to Munich to study instrumentation and dramatic composition under Franz Lachner. In April 1847 he competed for and obtained the appointment of director of the musical societies at Mainz, and was employed by the publishing firm of Schott to compose operas, Don Riego (1849), Die rothe Maske (1850) and Die Braut (1861), which were performed in Mainz and Mannheim; also some important vocal works, and overtures and entr'actes for the use of the local theatre. This appointment, in which he gained great experience, he resigned in April 1851 and proceeded to London, where his performances at the Philharmonic (June 23, Hummel's A minor concerto) and the Musical Union were received with much favour. After this success he resolved to pursue his career in England, though returning for a time to Germany.
In 1852 Ernst Pauer married Miss Andreae, of Frankfort, a good contralto singer. In 1861 he gave a series of six performances with a view of illustrating the foundation and development of pianoforte composition and playing, in chronological series from about 1600 to modem times, elucidated and assisted by programmes containing critical and biographical notices. Similar performances, but with different programmes, were given in 1862 and 1863, and again in 1867, in Willis's and the Hanover Square Rooms. In 1862 he was selected by Austria and the Zollverein for the Musical Jury of the London International Exhibition. He was at the same time the official reporter for the Prussian Government, and his report was reproduced by some of the chief industrial journals, and was translated into various languages. For these services he received the Imperial Austrian Order of Francis Joseph, and the Prussian Order of the Crown. During the next few years Pauer played in Holland, Leipzig, Munich and Vienna, in fulfilment of special engagements, and was appointed pianist to the imperial Austrian court in 1866.
In 1870 Ernst Pauer began a new phase of his active career, that of lecturing upon the composers for the harpsichord and pianoforte; the form and spirit of the varieties of modem music, as the Italian, French and German; the history of the oratorio; the practice of teaching; and many cognate subjects. These lectures were given at the Royal Institution, the South Kensington Museum, and in many other important places in Great Britain and Ireland. When Cipriani Potter retired from the Royal Academy of Music, Pauer took his class, and retained it for five years. In 1876, on the foundation of the National Training School for Music at Kensington Gore, he became the principal pianoforte professor of that institution, and in 1878 was made a member of the Board for Musical Studies at Cambridge University, and the following year an examiner. He retired to Germany in 1896.
Ernst Pauer edited many of the works of the classical and romantic composers, among them Alte Klavier-Musik (Senff, Leipzig), twelve books; Alte Meister (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig), 40 Nos. Also Old English Composers for the Virginals and Harpsichord' (Augener, London); and, under the auspices of the last-named publisher, an edition of the classical composers in a cheap form, embracing and including all the great masters from J.S. Bach and Georg Frideric Handel to Schumann, and extending, up to July 1880, to nearly thirty volumes, of admirable clearness and convenience. Besides this are arrangements for children, and educational works, including the New Gradus ad Parnassum, 100 studies, some of them by himself; Primer of the Pianoforte (Novello & Co., 1876); Elements of the Beautiful in Music (ditto, 1876); Primer of Musical Forms (ditto, 1878); and The Pianist's Dictionary (1895). Also some interesting arrangements of Schumann's symphonies for four hands, and of Mendelssohn's pianoforte concerto for two pianos. As a pianist his style was distinguished by breadth and nobility of tone, and by a sentiment in which seriousness of thought was blended with profound respect for the intention of the composer.
Ernst Pauer's son, Max (b 1866), was a highly-ranked pianist.