Johann Nepomuk Hummel

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Johann Nepomuk Hummel, copper engraving by Franz Xaver Stöber after a drawing by Ehregott Grünler
Memorial plaque on the birthplace in Bratislava; Location: 48 ° 8 ′ 38.72 ″  N , 17 ° 6 ′ 37.12 ″  E
Hummel's grave in the historical cemetery in Weimar

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (born November 14, 1778 in Pressburg , † October 17, 1837 in Weimar ) was an Austrian composer and pianist .


Johann Nepomuk Hummel's father, Johannes Hummel, previously music master at the military monastery in Wartberg , moved to Vienna with his family in 1786 . There Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart took the talented Johann Nepomuk into his household and gave him free lessons. From 1788 to 1793 the young piano virtuoso went on concert tours to Denmark and England accompanied by his father. After his return to Vienna he took composition lessons with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri .

In 1804, on Joseph Haydn's recommendation , Hummel succeeded Prince Esterházy as court conductor ; he worked there for seven years until he was dismissed due to a dispute. On May 16, 1813, he married the opera singer Elisabeth Röckel in the Vienna parish church of St. Joseph ob der Laimgrube ; one of the groomsmen was Salieri. Two sons, the future conductor Eduard Hummel and the later painter Carl Hummel , were born in 1814 and 1821.

During his years in Vienna, Hummel was also close friends with Beethoven and participated in the performance of some of Beethoven's works in 1813/1814. In February 1814 he signed a humorous letter to Hummel with "Your friend Beethowen". On April 4, 1816, Beethoven wrote in Hummels Stammbuch the riddle canon Ars longa, vita brevis , WoO 170. Later Hummel Beethoven is said to have financially supported. This is reported by a friend of Hummels, the Weimar actor Eduard Genast , who also emphasizes that Hummel was an extremely generous person:

“Hummel was not only worthy of admiration as an artist, but also as a person, because many unhappy families were torn from their misery by his generous help. His name was never allowed to be mentioned, and in Weimar itself he had made some of his most reliable friends his poor carers. Since I was often asked for such service, I had the opportunity to witness his unselfish generosity. Only after his death did his wife find Beethoven's letters of thanks in a secret compartment of his desk, which Hummel had supported until his death. How Hummel in particular could be seen as stingy would be incomprehensible if the superficiality of the crowd's judgment were not confirmed anew every day. Of course he had a few small peculiarities that could be misinterpreted. "

From 1816 to 1818 Johann Nepomuk Hummel was court conductor in Stuttgart , and from January 1819 court conductor in Weimar . Here he also worked as a music teacher for Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach , born in 1811 , who later became Queen of Prussia and German Empress.

Hummel was instrumental in advocating uniform copyright laws within the states of the German Confederation . Towards the end of his life his fame faded; nevertheless he died as one of the first rich composers in music history. His grave is in the historical cemetery in Weimar .

After Hummel's death, Franz Liszt made it possible for a Hummel memorial to be erected in Pressburg by giving a series of benefit concerts; the Hummel bust directly in front of the German embassy there dates from 1887, the Hummel bust behind the German National Theater Weimar from 1895. Since 1898 a street in Vienna- Hietzing has been named "Hummelgasse" in memory of Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The “ Ottmar Gerster Music School ” in Weimar was also renamed “Johann Nepomuk Hummel Music School ” in 2016 at the endeavors of the current school director, Gernot Grohs , for the 50th anniversary of its existence .

Working as a composer

Hummel published, among other things, six concertos for piano and orchestra , eight piano sonatas (including two for four hands), numerous other compositions for piano solo and chamber music ; he also composed a number of operas and musical plays , cantatas and masses . Only symphonies are missing from his catalog raisonné; he probably did not want to compare himself to Ludwig van Beethoven in this area .

Among Hummel's works for piano solo, the Fantasia in E flat major op. 18 and the Sonata in F sharp minor op. 81 exerted a great influence on contemporaries, for example Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy . Hummel's influence can also be clearly seen in the early works of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann . Among his chamber music works, the septet in D minor for piano, flute, oboe, horn, viola, violoncello and double bass op.74 is remarkable, as is the quintet in E flat major / E flat minor for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass op 87, which anticipates the line-up of Schubert's Trout Quintet .

The Concerto in E flat major (actually E major) for trumpet and orchestra , the first movement of which is now a standard work for entrance examinations and orchestral auditions (WoO 1 from 1803), is of undiminished importance .

Hummel memorial in his native town Pressburg (Bratislava). A work by the sculptor Viktor Tilgner

Hummel's music represents the transition from the classical to the romantic era. This can be clearly seen in his compositions for flute: the early works are similar to those of his teacher Mozart, the middle ones are early romantic. The late work is highly romantic and virtuoso.

Work as a pianist and piano teacher

The bust of the Hummel behind the German National Theater Weimar

Hummel was considered the most important pianist of his time and in this capacity, alongside Joseph Wölfl, he was the closest competitor to Beethoven, to whom he had a crisis-prone friendship. Like Beethoven, Hummel was a great improviser. After Beethoven's death and his own request, he improvised on April 7, 1827 in the benefit concert of Beethoven's longtime secretary Anton Schindler on the slow movement of the Seventh Symphony .

Towards the end of his career, his piano playing seemed a bit old-fashioned; He continued to prefer the smooth-running and bright-sounding Viennese fortepiano , whereas the more dynamic English and French instruments had prevailed in concert life. During the game he sat very calmly, even when overcoming the greatest technical difficulties; his ideal was the "correct and beautiful presentation".

He was a sought-after piano teacher and trained many well-known musicians, including Ferdinand Hiller , Adolf Henselt , Sigismund Thalberg , Friedrich Silcher and, for a short time, Mendelssohn . Liszt, a student of Carl Czerny , also originally wanted to take lessons from Hummel, but his fee was too high for him. Czerny himself, although a Beethoven student, valued Hummel's play and advice.

In 1828, Hummel published his three-volume detailed theoretical-practical instruction on piano forte playing , which illustrated a "thorough" practice with the help of countless musical examples.


In 1820 Hummel was initiated as a Freemason in the Weimar Lodge Anna Amalia to the three roses , to which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also belonged . Hummel was a member of the Institut de France , the Société des Enfants d'Apollon , the Legion of Honor , the Geneva Société de Musique , the Dutch Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Toonkunst , the Vienna Society of Music Friends , the London Philharmonic Society , the Weimar House Order of the White Falcon and, in contrast to the Protestant Weimar court, the Catholic Church.



Web links

Commons : Johann Nepomuk Hummel  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ludwig van Beethoven, Correspondence. Complete edition. Volume 3. Ed. By Sieghard Brandenburg . Munich 1996, p. 13.
  2. Eduard Genast: From the diary of an old actor. Volume 3. Leipzig 1865, p. 11f. ( Digitized version )
  3. Note ( memento of April 3, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) on, as of May 15, 2011.
  4. Reference to, as of March 5, 2012.
  5. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Macmillan, London 1980. Article Hummel, Johann Nepomuk , list of works.
  6. Uli Molsen : The history of piano playing in historical quotations. Molsen, Balingen / Endingen 1982, ISBN 3-9800685-0-1 . P. 66.
  7. Cf. Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Detailed theoretical and practical instruction on piano forte playing. Reprint. Zimmermann, Straubenhardt 1989, p. 426.
  8. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan, London 1980. Article Hummel, Johann Nepomuk , section 6.
  9. Reinhard Haschen: Franz Liszt or The Overcoming of Romanticism through the Experiment. Henschelverlag, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-362-00358-3 , p. 20.
  10. Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Detailed theoretical and practical instruction on piano forte playing. Reprint. Zimmermann, Straubenhardt 1989, p. IX.
  11. International Masonic Lexicon. Herbig, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-7766-2478-6 . Article Hummel, Johann Nepomuk.