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Franz Wilhelm Tausch

born: 26 December 1762
died: 9 February 1817
country: Germany

Franz Tausch was born in Heidelberg in 1762 and died in Berlin in 1817. He was one of the earliest of the great clarinet virtuosi. He was taught by his father, Jacob, from the age of six, and two years later became a junior member of the Mannheim orchestra, playing violin and clarinet. When he was only thirteen he joined his father as a full-time member of the orchestra. Mozart would probably have heard Tausch father and son playing in the orchestra when he visited Mannheim in 1777. But by the time he made his famous comment ‘Oh, if only we had clarinets! – you can’t believe what a beautiful effect a symphony with flutes, oboes and clarinets makes’ (letter to his father, 3 December 1778) the Tausches had moved with the court to Munich.

From Munich Franz Tausch began to develop his solo career, finding opportunities to travel. In 1789 he accepted the position of chamber musician to the dowager Queen of Prussia and moved to Berlin. Later he also played in King Frederick William II’s orchestra. After the king’s death in 1797 his successor Frederick William III offered Tausch employment, and he remained in Berlin, founding the Conservatorium der Blasinstrumente (Conservatory for Wind Instruments) in 1805. Tausch had many distinguished pupils, including Crusell and Heinrich Baermann.

Tausch’s qualities were described in an obituary notice in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of 19 March 1817: ‘The son, too [Franz Tausch], acquired a rare perfection on this instrument and won over the whole audience by his seductive, gentle tone and tasteful execution.’ The report adds: ‘He also wrote several concertos and quartets; only a few of the former are published.’

from notes by Michael Freyhan © 1991

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