Johann Benjamin Gross

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Johann Benjamin Gross

Johann Benjamin Groß (born September 12, 1809 in Elbing ; † September 1, 1848 in Saint Petersburg ) was a German cellist and composer.


Johann Benjamin Groß grew up in Elbing (today Elbląg) in East Prussia and received his first music lessons from his father, the bell ringer Georg G. Groß. His mother Dorothea was born van Bergen. In Berlin he then received his cello training from the chamber musician Ferdinand Hansmann , a student of Jean-Pierre Duport .

In 1824, Groß got his first job in the orchestra of the Königstädtisches Theater near Berlin. In 1830 he became the first solo cellist of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and was part of the musical circles around Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , Friedrich Wieck , his daughter Clara and Robert Schumann . In 1833 he was briefly a cellist in the orchestra of the Magdeburg Theater. His friend, the art patron Baron Karl Eduard von Liphart , brought him to Dorpat (now Tartu) in what is now Estonia to his quartet orchestra led by Ferdinand David , which dissolved in 1834 after a very productive phase.

In 1835 Groß went to St. Petersburg and became first cellist of the imperial court orchestra in the rank of "imperial chamber musician". The violin virtuosos Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst and Henri Vieuxtemps valued him as a cellist quartet. He also worked as a cello teacher and composed over 40 musical works, especially for his instrument. On September 1, 1848, he died of cholera in St. Petersburg .

Groß had been married to Catharina von Witte from Reval (now Tallinn) since 1835 , with whom he had three daughters, one of whom died early. The other two daughters were Amalie and Dorothea Maria. Daughter Dorothea Maria, (* 1838 in Reval) later moved to Lübeck and married the hemp wholesaler Gottlieb Johannes Ferdinand Dahlberg there in 1860, with whom she had 4 children. One of her sons went to the United States, where he married into a family of pianists and was regarded as a musician himself.

Groß was in correspondence with Robert Schumann from 1837 to 1840 and was a Bundestag member .


The Hamburg composer FH Thrun wrote about him in an obituary: JB Groß was one of those quiet, inner artistic natures who seldom achieve great prestige in the big world, but arouse strong and lasting sympathy in the inner circle of true artists and art lovers. In his compositions, most of which belonged to the field of higher chamber music, a serious, poetic spirit wafted; it was not easily understandable and accessible to the great multitude, but it will never lack the respect of genuine connoisseurs. but become part of it in an ever increasing degree. As a virtuoso on the violoncello he lacked that coquette lightness, that pomp with cheap effects, which a modern art traveler astonishes a salon audience; he just played the way he composed: correct, poetic, sensible ...


After Groß's compositional work had long been forgotten, individual works were performed again in 2004 as part of the Schumann Festival in Düsseldorf . In 2009/10 further performances took place in Paris, Ghent, Copenhagen, Vienna, Leipzig, at the Bruchsal Castle Concerts (broadcast by SWR) on February 12, 2009 and in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum Berlin on the occasion of his 200th birthday on June 21, 2009. In Cologne further concerts on November 21, 2010 (broadcast by WDR) and December 10, 2010, another on February 20, 2011 in Stuttgart, on November 24, 2011 the re-performance of a cello concert in his home town of Elbing. The first CD recordings of his works were made in 2009 (ebl.laborie) and 2011 (ars production). The credit for its rediscovery goes to the former cellist of the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra , Alfred Lessing , who reconstructed the music fund, and to Christophe Coin , currently the most important interpreter of Groß. Most recently, a previously unknown fund of music was excavated in the manuscript department of the Institute for the History of the Arts in St. Petersburg. Groß's scores are being re-published or re-published by PAN-Verlag GmbH, Basel / Kassel (publisher Folckert Lüken-Isberner) and by Kammermusikverlag.

On the occasion of the 210th year of birth, the final concert of the 14th Goldberg Festival in Gdańsk took place on September 1st, 2019. Only works by Groß were performed.


Orchestral works

  • Cello concerto in the form of a Concertino op. 14 in D minor
  • Larghetto and variations for violoncello with orchestral accompaniment op.28
  • Cello Concerto op.31
  • Cello Concerto op.38 in C major
  • Cello Concerto (1834)
  • Ballad for violoncello with orchestral accompaniment op.40

Choral works

  • Four male choirs op.27
  • Male choir op.29

Cello and piano

  • Sonata for piano and violoncello op.7
  • Divertissement for violoncello with piano accompaniment op.8
  • Rhapsodies for violoncello and piano op.12
  • Lyric pieces for cello with piano accompaniment op.26
  • Serenade for violoncello and piano op.32
  • Rhapsody for violoncello and piano op.33
  • Three solos for violoncello with piano accompaniment op.43
  • Duo brilliant based on motifs from Meyerbeer's opera “Die Huguenots” for piano and violoncello op. 36

Cell duos

  • Capriccio on a theme from Méhul's opera “Joseph in Egypt” for cello and bass op. 6
  • Two easy duets without thumbs with the names of the positions for two violoncellos op.5
  • Four amusing and easy pieces without thumb position for 2 violoncellos op.10
  • Execitia in the form of variations on the Russian folk anthem "Schütze den Kaiser Gott" for 2 violoncellos op. 34
  • 24 easy duos for two cellos op.42

More chamber music

  • String Quartet No. 1 op.9
  • String Quartet No. 2 op.16
  • Concert variations on a theme from Meyerbeer's opera “Die Huguenots” with string quartet op. 30
  • String quartet No. 3 op.37
  • String Quartet No. 4 op.39
  • Variations on a Barcarole op.24
  • Etude for violoncello without thumb attachment op.42
  • Elements of the cello game, op.36
  • Souvenir de la Pologne for guitar and cello (1834)


  • Songs op.1
  • Lied op.2
  • Songs op.25
  • Songs op.26
  • Songs op.35
  • Russian song


  • Bernhard R. Appel: Johann Benjamin Groß (1809-1848). Notes on life and work, in: Bernhard R. Appel, M. Wendt: Robert Schumann, the violoncello and the cellists of his time. Mainz 2007.
  • Folckert Lüken-Isberner: Johann Benjamin Gross, a little taller among the early romantics. In: Ensemble, magazine for chamber music , issue 1 2010.
  • Folckert Lüken-Isberner: Personal notes about Johann Benjamin Groß. (unpublished manuscript). Kassel 2009.
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Letter of March 6, 1833 to Breitkopf & Härtel . Berlin 1833.
  • FH Thrun: Obituary for the death of Johann Benjamin Groß. In: Hamburger Korrespondent , Hamburg 1848.
  • Helmut Scheunchen : Lexicon of German Baltic Music. Harro von Hirschheydt publishing house, Wedemark-Elze 2002. ISBN 3-7777-0730-9 . P. 94 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Program 01.09.2019. In: Website of Feswtiwal Goldbergowski Gdańsk. Retrieved October 6, 2019 (Polish).