Spohr, Louis. (1784–1859) [Lannoy, Eduard de. (1787–1853)]

Autograph Letter about his Quartet-Concerto and Berlioz

Autograph letter from the German composer, violinist and conductor to Flemish-Austrian nobleman and musician Eduard de Lannoy, offering his Quartet-Concerto op. 131 for performance in Vienna, and mentioning the success of Hector Berlioz. 3 pp. Kassel, December 26, 1845. On a large bifolium, addressed and franked on the verso with remnants of a seal; one edge loss from opening, some light toning and soiling; overall fine. 8.5 x 11 inches (21.8 x 28 cm).

Translated from the German, in full: "Dear Baron, I have received your answer about the [...] Sinfonie and thank you for it. The overture I spoke to Herr Hulz in Bonn about has been in the hands of the publishers since the autumn, but after the New Year it will be published and will hopefully still be fresh enough for you to use it. I will write to the publisher, Herr Siegel in Leipzig, and ask him to send you a copy as soon as it is printed. I can also offer you a manuscript to perform in one of your concerts, if it is not of a genre that you have not ruled out. It is something in a new form, namely a quartet concerto for two violins, viola and violoncello with large orchestra in three movements, which are played without pause. Since you undoubtedly have excellent musicians in your orchestra for the four solo parts, you could certainly perform it with success, if the genre is not ruled out. I am going to perform it here for the first time in the next subscription concert, and take the first violin part myself; then I have promised it to Mendelssohn for a performance in Leipzig; from there it could be sent directly to you, if I hear from you that you can use it.

Berlioz seems to have found an audience in Vienna for his showy music, for, as I read in the newspaper, they have given him a festival and a silver conducting baton! I pray to Heaven he finds no imitators among our young artists! That would cause even worse failures than the imitation of Beethoven.
Be well. My wife greets you and your wife [...] Yours, Louis Spohr."

Spohr's Quartet-Concerto for string quartet and orchestra, op. 131, is a rare piece of its genre, with the string quartet acting not as a concertino group (as in a concerto grosso), but rather as an independent voice which is accompanied by the orchestra. Composed when Spohr was 61, it is a fairly conservative work. It is typical of Spohr's musical conservatism that he should be critical of Hector Berlioz, and indeed even of imitators of Beethoven.

Baron Henri Eduard Joseph de Lannoy was a Flemish composer, teacher, conductor, and writer on music who spent most of his life in Austria. His compositions bridge the classical and early romantic styles. Lannoy was a powerful impulse for cultural and musical life in Graz and Vienna. He had a long association with the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, serving as a conductor and sitting on the board, and also with the Vienna Conservatory, where he served as director from 1830 to 1835. (17051)

Autograph Letter
Classical Music