Commemorating the anniversary of Lortzing’s death

Albert Lortzing died on the 21st of January 1851 in Berlin. Personally I prefer to celebrate his birthday on 23 October, but this year I have a special reason to give some attention to his dying day and write this little post.

Bert Hagels, who helped me in 2009 by adding a substantial part to this website, found a short obituary of Lortzing in the English music journal “The Musical World”, from February 1st, 1851 and sent it to me.

It is interesting that an English magazine wrote something about Lortzing, who was probably a “too German” composer to be esteemed in other countries. Remarkable are the small inaccuracies, like Lortzing’s date of birth, (23d of September 1803, instead of 23d of October 1801), the exact date of death (23d of January, instead of 21st), the strange rendering of the titles of Lortzing’s operas (“Der Wildschütz”, generally translated as “The Poacher” is here “the Dierstalker”) and these two sentences:

Besides these works he composed several vaudevilles, songs, and morceaux for flute and piano. On both instruments he excelled as a performer. (emphasis by me – GO)

No morceaux for flute and piano are mentioned, probably because there are none! And although Lortzing without a doubt played the piano, he most likely didn’t excel as a performer.

Now, actually there is also another English obituary, from “The Illustrated London News” of March 29, 1851, that I found in 2012 on eBay as part of a set of two pages devoted to commerce and corn exchange. Without buying the originals I saved the images to my computer, to let them wait for an opportunity to be used.

The time has come 🙂

In this obituary you’ll also find the inaccuracy of Lortzing’s date of birth, 1803 instead of 1801, but this is compensated by incorporating Lortzing in the multitude of geniuses!

Lortzing’s passing from life was attended by circumstances by no means uncommon in the fortunes of men of genius: he died poor, and left his family a public subscription.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est – Of the dead nothing but good is to be said, but, just like Lortzing wasn’t a virtuoso as a piano player, he probably wasn’t a genius – IMO.

I prefer to think about Lortzing as a very capable and interesting composer of Spieloper, and a trailblazer in the history of comic opera, rather than to stress his misfortune as a pitiful, under-appreciated and exploited genius.

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