Meyerbeer: Wirth und Gast, “Overture”
Once his studies with Vogler were complete, Meyerbeer embarked on an independent career and traveled to Munich. During his Munich tenure, which lasted almost an entire year, he met the world-renowned clarinetist Heinrich Baermann. Born in Potsdam, Baermann established a highly successful career as a traveling virtuoso, entertaining audiences throughout Europe and Russia. He was widely considered the “Rubini of the clarinet” because he rivaled the great Italian tenor in richness, beauty, and phenomenal compass. Baermann’s expressive and luxurious playing had already inspired Carl Maria von Weber to craft no fewer than five large-scale works for the clarinet virtuoso. And in 1812, Felix Mendelssohn — in competition with Meyerbeer — wrote two Konzertstücke for Baerman. Not wanting to be left behind, Meyerbeer quickly composed a number of works for the clarinet in 1813 as well.
Meyerbeer: Clarinet Quintet in E flat Major
During his early career, Meyerbeer was predominantly known as a piano virtuoso. He also composed a number of piano works that were never published and have since disappeared. As he wrote to a friend, “They are not worth mentioning, but my playing is an entirely different matter.” The famed Ignaz Moscheles found his playing “unsurpassed,” and the virtuoso J. B. Gänsbacher wrote that he “had never heard the like.” Intrigued by the growing fame of the “London Pianoforte School,” Meyerbeer traveled to London to hear performances by Johann Baptist Cramer. Already Beethoven had considered Cramer a most outstanding performer, “all the rest count nothing.” He was particularly known for his smoothness and speed, and contemporary reviews frequently referred to his “well-known exquisite and unrivaled style.” Cramer’s sonatas are specifically written for early Broadwood grand pianos, and the success of the “London Pianoforte School” was closely tied to that instrument, as the musical style was closely linked to that instrument’s tonal qualities and its manner of articulation.
Johann Baptist Cramer: Piano Sonata in A minor, Op. 53 “L’ultima”
Ferdinand Ries: Clarinet Sonata in E flat Major, Op. 169
Please join us next time when we accompany Giacomo Meyerbeer to Italy, and witness his first real successes as an opera composer.