Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Ignaz Joseph Pleyel

Music History Monday: There’s No Software Without the Hardware!

Today we celebrate the birthday of the piano builder and composer Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, who was born in Ruppertsthal, Austria on June 18, 1757: 261 years ago today. It’s entirely understandable if you’ve never heard of Pleyel or his music, because his music – despite being extremely attractive and technically sound – has fallen into almost total obscurity. But if one had to pick a single, “most popular composer” in the years between 1800 and 1820, it would be Pleyel: more popular than Haydn, than Mozart, and yes, most certainly more popular that that curmudgeon Beethoven. A review published in 1791 in the Morning Herald of London states that Pleyel: “is becoming even more popular than his master [Haydn], as his works are characterized less by the intricacies of science.” (The reviewer is saying that because Pleyel’s music was easier to play and less complicated – less “scientific” – than Haydn’s, Pleyel was attracting a wider popular base than Haydn.) In Brussels, the contemporary and most influential music critic, musicologist, composer, and teacher François-Joseph Fétis outright marveled at Pleyel’s popularity, writing: “What composer ever created more of a craze than Pleyel? Who enjoyed a more universal reputation or a more absolute […]

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