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Taubert, Wilhelm (1811-1891)

Wilhelm Taubert

born: 23 March 1811
died: 7 January 1891
country: Germany

Wilhelm Taubert (1811–1891) was a German conductor, composer and pianist active in Berlin. At the age of twenty he was made assistant conductor and accompanist of the Berlin court concerts. In the next decade, he served as Generalmusikdirektor of Königliche Schauspiele under Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, and was also court Kapellmeister until 1869; he continued to conduct the royal orchestra until 1883. He was also highly regarded as a teacher at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1865.

Taubert was part of a Berlin circle of musicians that included the baritone and writer Eduard Devrient, librettist of two of his operas; Devrient also sang in some of Mendelssohn’s early works. Surviving correspondence between Mendelssohn and Taubert reveals Mendelssohn’s perception of his colleague’s work as lacking ‘impetus and spirit’, which may have prevented Taubert from achieving lasting success as a composer of large works. However, his graceful, almost popular style was well suited to Lieder and short character pieces, such as the Minnelieder Op 16 for piano. This work has been favourably compared with Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte, and there is some dispute as to who influenced whom. The Kinderlieder Opp 145 and 160 are still performed today. Taubert also composed chamber music, piano sonatas and large orchestral works. As well as two piano concertos, he also wrote a violin concerto and a Bacchanale, Divertissement brillant for piano and orchestra Op 28. As editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Robert Schumann reviewed many of Taubert’s compositions, and indicative of the high regard in which Taubert was held is the review of his Piano Duo Op 11 in the Neue Zeitschrift’s inaugural issue of April 1834. Schumann also asked Taubert to contribute to the journal.

from notes by Stephan D Lindemann © 2010

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