Hermann Goetz - Encyclopedia

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HERMANN GOETZ (1840-1876), German musical composer, was born at Konigsberg in Prussia, on the 17th of December 1840, and began his regular musical studies at the comparatively advanced age of seventeen. He entered the music-school of Professor Stern at Berlin, and studied composition chiefly under Ulrich and Hans von Billow. In 1863 he was appointed organist at Winterthur in Switzerland, where he lived in obscurity for a number of years, occupying himself with composition during his leisure hours. One of his works was an opera, The Taming of the Shrew, the libretto skilfully adapted from Shakespeare's play. After much delay it was produced at Mannheim (in October 1874), and its success was as instantaneous as it has up to the present proved lasting. It rapidly made the round of the great German theatres, and spread its composer's fame over all the land. But Goetz did not live to enjoy this happy result for long. In December 1876 he died at Zurich from overwork. A second opera, Francesca da Rimini, on which he was engaged, remained a fragment; but it was finished according to his directions, and was performed for the first time at Mannheim a few months after the composer's death on the 4th of December 1876. Besides his dramatic work, Goetz also wrote various compositions for chamber-music, of which a trio (Op. 1) and a quintet (Op. 16) have been given with great success at the London Monday Popular Concerts. Still more important is the Symphony in F. As a composer of comic opera Goetz lacks the sprightliness and artistic savoir faire so rarely found amongst Germanic nations. His was essentially a serious nature, and passion and pathos were to him more congenial than humour. The more serious sides of the subject are therefore insisted upon more successfully than Katherine's ravings and Petruchio's eccentricities. There are, however, very graceful passages, e.g. the singing lesson Bianca receives from her disguised lover. Goetz's style, although influenced by Wagner and other masters, shows signs of a distinct individuality. The design of his music is essentially of a polyphonic character, and the working out and interweaving of his themes betray the musician of high scholarship. But breadth and beautiful flow of melody also were his, 1 After Walther's death upwards of £io,000 in bonds, &c., were discovered put away and forgotten in escritoires and odd corners.

This was the reason given by Baron Walther himself to the writer's mother, an old friend of Frau von Goethe, who lived with her family in the Goethehaus for some years after 1871.

as is seen in the symphony, and perhaps still more in the quintet for pianoforte and strings above referred to. The most important of Goetz's posthumous works are a setting of the 137th Psalm for soprano solo, chorus and orchestra, a "Spring" overture (Op. 15), and a pianoforte sonata for four hands (Op. 17).

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