Christian Gottlob Neefe

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Christian Gottlob Neefe
Christian Gottlob Neefe.jpg

Christian Gottlob Neefe (born February 5, 1748 in Chemnitz , † January 26, 1798 in Dessau ) was a German composer , organist , conductor and musicologist . He was particularly well known as the teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven .


Neefe comes from a long-established family of craftsmen in Chemnitz; he was the son of the tailor Johann Gottlieb Neefe and his wife Rosina Weyrauch. At the age of 12 Neefe came to the St. Jakobi Church as a choirboy and received his first musical lessons from the organist Johann Friedrich Wilhelmi , who encouraged him very much. At the suggestion of his teachers, he received a scholarship from the city of Chemnitz and was thus able to study law at the University of Leipzig at the age of 19 . He passed the first state examination in 1771; his thesis was entitled Whether a father is authorized to disinherit his son if he abandons the theater .

Already during his studies Neefe made the acquaintance of the composer Johann Adam Hiller and as a student he was able to publish smaller works in his magazine Weekly News concerning music . When Hiller founded his private singing school in Leipzig in 1771 , Neefe was one of his first students.

One of his first major works for Hiller were ten arias that Neefe composed for his opera Der Dorfbarbier . As a result of this collaboration and as Hiller's master student, Neefe also succeeded him in 1776 as musical director of Abel Seyler's theater company. Together with this ensemble he made a guest appearance. a. in Dresden, Frankfurt am Main, Mainz and Cologne.

Neefe married the actress Susanna Zinck in Leipzig . With her he had three daughters, including Margarete, who later became the wife of the actor Ludwig Devrient , and three sons, including the later painter Hermann Josef Neefe .

In 1779 the Seyler'sche Theatergesellschaft had to file for bankruptcy, despite remarkable artistic achievements and successes. In the same year he got a job as composer and music director in the ensemble of Gustav Friedrich Großmann and Karl Hellmuth at the electoral national theater in Bonn . There Neefe was appointed in 1781 to succeed the court organist Gilles van der Eeden .

In addition to his organist activity, Neefe also taught a. Piano and composition . His most famous student was Ludwig van Beethoven from 1782 . It was also Neefe who was the first to publish works by the young Beethoven - such as the Variations pour le Clavecin sur une Marche de Mr. Dressler , on a march by Ernst Christoph Dressler .

Politically interested, Neefe was one of the most famous enlighteners in the royal Cologne capital . In Bonn he was, like his colleagues Franz Anton Ries and Nikolaus Simrock, a member of the Minervalkirche Stagira of the Order of the Illuminati . After its dissolution, he became a founding member of the Bonn Reading Society .

In Neuwied Neefe was a member of the Freemason Lodge Karoline zu den Drei Pfauen .

When the troops of the French Revolution under the leadership of General Jean-Étienne Championnet occupied the Rhineland in 1794 and took Cologne on October 6 of the same year, the electoral period came to an end. Neefe lost his job in Bonn at the age of 46 and tried to come to terms with the occupiers. After several unsuccessful petitions, one of his daughters was able to bring him to Dessau in 1796 , where he became music director of the Bosann'sche Theatergesellschaft that same year . He held this office until the end of his life.

Christian Gottlieb Neefe died in Dessau on January 26, 1798 at the age of 50.


His musical work is shaped by numerous compositions of chamber music , piano works, choral music and operas . He is considered one of the best German comic composers of his time.

Works (selection)

  • The pharmacy. Singspiel in two acts . Leipzig 1771
  • Nobility from Veltheim. Singspiel in 4 acts . 1780
  • Cupid's peep box. Singspiel . 1772
  • The objections. Singspiel . 1772
  • Oden von Klopstock : Singing serenades on the piano. ISBN 3-487-11881-5 (Repr. Of the Flensburg 1776 edition)
  • Heinrich and Lyda. Singspiel . 1776
  • Zemirs and Azor. Singspiel . 1776
  • Posthumous: Twelve Piano Sonatas . in: Monuments of Rhenish Music Vol. 10/11


  • XII piano sonatas (on modern concert grand piano). Oliver Drechsel . DCD027
  • XII piano sonatas (on a clavichord ). Oliver Drechsel. DCD026


Web links

Commons : Christian Gottlob Neefe  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Evangelical Church Book Dessau St. Johannis, Burials 1790–1806, without page counting, No. 7/1798.