Carl Loewe

Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe (German: [ˈløːvə]; 30 November 1796 – 20 April 1869), usually called Carl Loewe (sometimes seen as Karl Loewe), was a German composer, tenor singer and conductor. In his lifetime, his songs (Lieder) were well enough known for some to call him the "Schubert of North Germany", and Hugo Wolf came to admire his work. He is less known today, but his ballads and songs, which number over 400, are occasionally performed.

Carl Loewe
Carl Loewe

Life and career

Loewe was born in Löbejün and received his first music lessons from his father. He was a choir-boy, first at Köthen, and later at Halle, where he went to grammar school. The beauty of Loewe's voice brought him under the notice of Madame de Staël, who procured him a pension from Jérôme Bonaparte, then king of Westphalia, which enabled him to further his education in music, and to study theology at Halle University. In 1810, he began lessons in Halle with Daniel Gottlob Türk.[1] This ended in 1813, on the flight of the king.

In 1820, he moved to Stettin in Prussia (now Szczecin in Poland), where he worked as organist and music director of the school. It was while there that he did most of his work as a composer, publishing a version of Goethe's Erlkönig in 1824 (written 1817/18) which some say rivals Schubert's far more famous version. He went on to set many other poets' works, including Friedrich Rückert, and translations of William Shakespeare and Lord Byron.

In 1821 he married Julie von Jacob, who died in 1823. His second wife, Auguste Lange, was an accomplished singer, and they appeared together in his oratorio performances with great success.

On 20 February 1827,[2] he conducted the first performance of the 18-year-old Felix Mendelssohn's Overture "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Op. 21. He and Mendelssohn were also soloists in Mendelssohn's Concerto in A-flat major for 2 pianos and orchestra.[3]

Later in life, Loewe became very popular both as a composer and as a singer. As a youth, he had a high soprano voice (he could sing the music of the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute as a boy), and his voice developed into a fine tenor. He made several tours as a singer in the 1840s and 1850s, visiting England, France, Sweden and Norway amongst other countries. He eventually moved back to Germany, and, after quitting his posts in Stettin after 46 years, moved to Kiel, where he died from a stroke on 20 April 1869.


Loewe wrote five operas, of which only one, Die drei Wünsche, was performed at Berlin in 1834, without much success; seventeen oratorios, many of them for male voices unaccompanied, or with short instrumental interludes only; choral ballads, cantatas, three string quartets (his opus 24,[4]) and a pianoforte trio;[5] a work for clarinet and piano, published posthumously; and some piano solos.

But the branch of his art by which he is remembered, and in which he must be admitted to have attained perfection, is the solo ballad with pianoforte accompaniment. His treatment of long narrative poems, in a clever mixture of the dramatic and lyrical styles, was undoubtedly modelled on the ballads of Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg, and has been copied by many composers since his day. His settings of the Erlkönig (a very early example), Archibald Douglas, Heinrich der Vogler, Edward and Die verfallene Mühle, are particularly fine.

There are at least two symphonies by Loewe – one, in D minor, has been recorded on the Koch Schwann label together with the first of at least two CD recordings of Loewe's second piano concerto (in A major), and another, in E minor, was given its first performance in 170 years in November 2004.[6] (The cpo series of recordings of Loewe's complete ballads includes as well a recording of two piano sonatas and a "tone poem in sonata form", with one of the sonatas – the E major of 1829 – having a vocal part for soprano and baritone.[7])

In 1875, at Bayreuth, Richard Wagner remarked of Loewe, "Ha, das ist ein ernster, mit Bedeutung die schöne deutsche Sprache behandelnder, nicht hoch genug zu ehrender deutscher Meister, echt und wahr!" (Ha, that is a serious German Master, authentic and true, one who uses the beautiful German language with meaning, one who cannot be sufficiently revered!).[8]


Loewe's earliest songs, such as the Acht Jugenlieder and the Anakreontische Lieder, follow the musical pattern of the late 18th century tradition, using a single melodic line, basic accompaniment, and mostly strophic and varied strophic forms.

Under Zumsteeg's influence, Loewe began incorporating and cultivating the ballad form into his vocal songs. When compared to other Lieder composers, Loewe's rhapsodic composition style is said to have "a striking absence of organic musical development".[9] His settings of poetry separated poetic ideas and treated them episodically rather than using unifying motifs (like fellow Lieder composer, Franz Schubert).

One of Loewe's strengths as a composer were his "imaginative and, at times, daring" accompaniments, which were often atmospheric and exploited the piano's sonorous and tonal potential.[9]


Several recordings of Loewe's ballads and other lieder are available on CD, sung by vocalists such as Josef Greindl, Hermann Prey, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Kurt Moll. Additional recordings can be found on YouTube. Female singers rarely sing, or record, his music (an exception is Iris Vermillion[10]).

His heart

In 2012 an urn thought to contain the heart of Carl Loewe was found inside the Szczecin Cathedral's southern pillar during the renovation works carried out that year.[11] A special commission appointed by the Szczecińsko-Kamieńska Metropolitan Curia has deduced, on the basis of historical records and an inscription on the pillar, that the urn indeed contains the heart of Carl Loewe.[12]



  1. ^ Eberl, Kathrin: Daniel Gottlob Türk – an urban musician in the late 18th Century. Beeskow 2011
  2. ^ Tuba Journal
  3. ^ "Portland Chamber Orchestra". Archived from the original on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
  4. ^ "The Wurlitzer Collection". Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  5. ^ in G minor, his opus 12, broadcast – see here
  6. ^ "2004 Loewe Festtage Program, with Premiere of E-minor Symphony" (in German). Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  7. ^ "Records International Description of cpo Loewe Sonatas CD". July 1997. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  8. ^ Hans Joachim Moser, Das Deutsche Lied seit Mozart (Berlin 1937), p. 135, note 2.
  9. ^ a b Ewan West, "Loewe, (Johann) Carl (Gottfried)", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1980); also in 'The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001).
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Unusual discovery in the cathedral". Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  12. ^ "To najpewniej serce Carla Loewe! Komisja potwierdza" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-24.


Further reading

  • Salmon, John (1996). The Piano Sonatas of Carl Loewe. New York: P. Lang. ISBN 0820418900. OCLC 26761454.

External links

YouTube samples of Carl Loewe's songs
Ballade (classical music)

A ballade (from French ballade, French pronunciation: ​[baˈlad], and German Ballade, German pronunciation: [baˈlaːdə], both being words for "ballad"), in classical music since the late 18th century, refers to a setting of a literary ballad, a narrative poem, in the musical tradition of the Lied, or to a one-movement instrumental piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities reminiscent of such a song setting, especially a piano ballad.

Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A-flat major (Mendelssohn)

The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A-flat major was written by Felix Mendelssohn when he was 15 years old. and is dated 12 November 1824. Written for two pianos and a full orchestra, the work received its first public performance in Berlin, in 1825. The composer and his mentor Ignaz Moscheles, who inspired its composition, were the soloists. He performed it again on 20 February 1827 at Stettin, where the cathedral organist, composer, baritone singer and conductor Carl Loewe organised concerts. Loewe and Mendelssohn were the two piano soloists on that occasion.This concerto and its predecessor, the E major concerto, may have been the first works composed for full orchestra by Mendelssohn.

The concerto may have been inspired by the occasion when Mendelssohn met Ignaz Moscheles in Berlin in 1824, when Moscheles accepted an invitation to visit Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy to give some music lessons to his children Felix and Fanny.

The concerto was not played for many years until the manuscript was found in the archive of the Berlin State Library in 1950.There are three movements:

Allegro vivace


Allegro vivace

Daniel Gottlob Türk

Daniel Gottlob Türk (10 August 1750 – 26 August 1813) was a German composer, organist and music professor of the Classical period.

Das Sühnopfer des neuen Bundes

Das Sühnopfer des neuen Bundes is an 1847 passion oratorio by Carl Loewe after a libretto by de:Wilhelm Telschow (1809—1872). The libretto contains poetic-dramatic paraphrasing of the biblical Passion stories.

Erlkönig (Goethe)

"Erlkönig" is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

It depicts the death of a child assailed by a supernatural being, the Erlkönig, often half-translated as "Erlking", though the eponymous character is clearly some kind of demon or 'fairy king'. It was originally composed by Goethe as part of a 1782 Singspiel entitled Die Fischerin.

"Erlkönig" has been called Goethe's "most famous ballad". The poem has been set to music by several composers, most notably by Franz Schubert.

Frauen-Liebe und Leben

Frauen-Liebe und Leben (A Woman's Love and Life) is a cycle of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso, written in 1830. They describe the course of a woman's love for her man, from her point of view, from first meeting through marriage to his death, and after. Selections were set to music as a song-cycle by masters of German Lied, namely Carl Loewe (1836), Franz Lachner (c1839), and Robert Schumann (1840). The setting by Schumann (his opus 42) is now the most widely known.

Hyperion Records

Hyperion Records is an independent British classical record label.

Johann Friedrich Naue

Johann Friedrich Naue (November 17, 1787 in Halle (Saale) – May 19, 1858 in Halle) was a German composer, organist, and choir director and music-theorist. He was a student of Ludwig van Beethoven and Daniel Gottlob Turk and Carl Friedrich Zelter. He composed both secular and spiritual music, and is known for reforming Protestant liturgical music in romantic-era Germany.Naue studied music in Berlin. Along with Felix Mendelssohn, Naue took lessons from Carl Friedrich Zelter. Zelter exposed him to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel. In 1808, he returned to Halle to study with Daniel Gottlob Türk. In 1815 Naue became a member of the Halle Masonic Lodge "of the three swords" along with Türk and Carl Loewe.

Naue went to Vienna to study briefly with Ludwig van Beethoven. On November 23, 1823 Beethoven dedicated his three-part canon "Kurz ist der Schmerz", WoO 163, to Naue. The text "Kurz ist der Schmerz und ewig ist die Freude" ("Brief is the pain and forever is the joy"), is from The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich von Schiller, the same poet who wrote the text for Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." In 1829, Naue sold all of his books and spent all of his inheritance in order to finance a music festival in Halle. The festival was an economic failure that drove Naue to alcoholism. In 1833 he was fired as head of the singing academy he created. In 1835 he was fired as organist of the "Market Church of Our Lady." He eventually went blind and died in poverty in 1858.

While Naue was a well-regarded composer and theorist in his own time, his music is now rarely played. Nevertheless, Naue was a prolific composer of piano, organ, choral, and orchestral music. He often composed commissioned occasional or festive music, such as military and triumphal marches for the Prussian army.

Johann Gabriel Seidl

Johann Gabriel Seidl (21 June 1804 – 18 July 1875)

was an Austrian archeologist, poet, storyteller and dramatist. He wrote the lyrics to "Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze unsern Kaiser, unser Land!" This was the 1854 version of the Austrian Imperial Anthem, music by Joseph Haydn (Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser).

Born in Vienna, Johann Gabriel Seidl was the son of a lawyer and studied law himself. In 1829, he began to teach at a gymnasium in Celje, Slovenia. In 1840 he became curator at the Coin and Antiquities Museum (Münz- und Antikenkabinett) in Vienna. From 1856 until 1871, he was responsible for the treasury. He spent most of his life in Vienna and died there in 1875.

Besides his scientific studies, Seidl published numerous poems and short stories, including the first poems by Nikolaus Lenau. Many of his poems were set to music by Franz Schubert (e.g. "Die Taubenpost" from Schwanengesang) and Carl Loewe (e.g. "Die Uhr"). Besides having written poems in standard German, Seidl also wrote in the Austrian dialect.

Josef Greindl

Josef Greindl (23 December 1912 - 16 April 1993) was a German operatic bass, remembered mainly for his performances of Wagnerian roles at Bayreuth beginning in 1943.

Josef Greindl was born in Munich and studied at the Munich Music Academy with Paul Bender. His opera debut was in 1936, as Hunding in Wagner's Die Walküre in the State Theatre in Krefeld. In 1944, Adolf Hitler included him in the Gottbegnadeten list ("God-gifted list" or "Important Artist Exempt List" of artists considered crucial to Nazi culture), which exempted him from the requirement to serve in the German military. He played the part of King Marke in the 1952 Furtwängler recording of Tristan und Isolde. This vintage recording often appears in critics list of the top 100 greatest recordings, since Kirsten Flagstad was also in the cast. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 1952-3. He sang in Wieland Wagner's last Ring.

In 1973, he became a professor at the Vienna Hochschule and later died in that city (in 1993). His daughter Gudrun Greindl Rosner is also a singer.

Greindl had a voice like a gravel quarry—massive, wide, deep, rough, and ancient-sounding, grey-timbred rather than black. From the mid-1940s through the late 1960s he was one of the three or four leading performers of Wagner's and Mozart's big bass roles, possessing the size and strength for the former and the dexterity, brains, and extreme range for the latter. He frequently appeared as Fafner, Hunding, and Hagen in the same performance of the Ring Cycle, which made him the only singer in the cast who had to perform all four nights. His earliest recorded singing was at Bayreuth, as Pogner the goldsmith, a character in his fifties or sixties, in 1943 when he (Greindl) was 31 years old. Although he was not as tall as some other big basses, his stage-presence was formidable.

He was not nearly as well-publicised as his frequent co-star Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but Josef Greindl's recorded repertoire is almost equally wide and full, including besides Mozart and Wagner beyond reckoning, operatic roles by Gluck, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Smetana, Weber, Berg, Orff, Cimarosa, Lortzing, and Beethoven; lieder by Schubert, Schumann, and Carl Loewe; and sacred music by Bach, Handel, Heinrich Schütz, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Schubert, Dvorak, and Rossini.

Although he was famous for the low bass parts, his top was very comfortable and he began experimenting with higher-pitched roles in the 1960s: Hans Sachs (at which he excelled), the Wanderer in Siegfried, the title character in Der fliegende Holländer and even Don Alphonso in Così fan tutte.He can be seen on video as Hans Sachs, Hagen (brief excerpts only), Rocco, King Phillip, Geronimo in Il matrimonio segreto, the Commendatore, and as Hunding in a concert performance of Act I of Die Walküre.

Karin Ott

Karin Ott (born 13 December 1945) is a Swiss operatic coloratura soprano.

Born in Wädenswil near Zürich as the daughter of a doctor, as a child she studied piano, violin, then organ, and later attended the International Opera Studio at Zürich. Her first engagement was in Biel, where she sang the soprano roles in Rigoletto, La bohème (as Mimì), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (as Konstanze), and The Bartered Bride (as Marie). She has appeared with various European companies, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she sang in La bohème (now as Musetta, with Enrico Di Giuseppe, 1982), Don Pasquale (as Norina, 1984), La bohème again (1985), and Lucia di Lammermoor (1985). At the Staatsoper Stuttgart, she was in the world premiere of the original version of Henze's König Hirsch in 1985. She also sang with the companies in Vienna, Munich, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Naples, Barcelona, Brussels, Amsterdam, Bordeaux, and Marseille. In concert, she has been heard in London, Milan, Salzburg, and Venice. In 1979, she performed Lucia in the United States.

Ott's discography includes songs by Pauline Viardot (1987–88), Lili Boulanger (1991), Carl Loewe, and Carl Maria von Weber, as well as Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (live, 1990–94). In 1980, the soprano recorded her best-known role for Deutsche Grammophon, the Queen of Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, with Edith Mathis, Janet Perry, Francisco Araiza, and José van Dam, under the baton of Herbert von Karajan.

Besides von Karajan, Ott has sung under Gerd Albrecht, Karl Böhm, Pierre Boulez, Michael Gielen, Ferdinand Leitner, Jesús López-Cobos, Sir Charles Mackerras, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Giuseppe Sinopoli, etc.

List of compositions by Carl Loewe

This is a list of compositions by Carl Loewe.

Loewe (surname)

The German-language surname Löwe, also Lowe or Loewe (German for "lion") may refer to:

Andreas Loewe (born 1973), a German-born Anglican Priest and Fifteenth Dean of Melbourne

Carl Loewe (Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe, 1796–1869), a German composer, baritone singer and conductor

Chris Löwe (born 1989), a German football player

David Loewe, a cofounder of Loewe AG

Edward Löwe (1794–1880), an English chess master

Erich Löwe (1906–1943), an Oberstleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II

Ferdinand Löwe (1865–1925), an Austrian conductor

Frederick Loewe (1901–1988), an Austrian-American composer

Gabriele Löwe (born 1958), a retired East German sprinter

Joel Löwe (1760–1802), a German-Jewish Biblical commentator

Johann Jacob Löwe (1628–1703), a German baroque composer and organist

Ludwig Loewe (1837–1886), a German weapons manufacturer

Michael Loewe, a British sinologist

Paul E. Loewe

Siegmund Loewe, a cofounder of Loewe AG

Sophie Löwe (1815–1866), a German opera soprano

Stewart Loewe (born 1968), an Australian rules football player

Wolfgang Löwe (born 1953), a former German volleyball player

Wolfram Löwe (born 1945), a former German football player

Ludwig Giesebrecht

Heinrich Ludwig Theodor Giesebrecht (5 July 1792 in Mirow – 18 March 1873 in Jasenitz) was a German poet and historian.

He studied history at the universities of Berlin and Greifswald, and in the meantime served as a volunteer in a Mecklenburg-Strelitz Hussar regiment during the Befreiungskriege (Wars of Liberation). From 1816 to 1866 he taught classes at the gymnasium in Stettin, attaining the title of professor in 1826. In 1848 he represented Stettin in the Frankfurt National Assembly.He was a good friend of composer Carl Loewe, for whom he wrote the lyrics to numerous oratorios.


Löbejün is a former town in the Saalekreis in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Since 1 January 2011, it is part of the town Löbejün-Wettin.

Passion (music)

In Christian music, a Passion is a setting of the Passion of Christ. Liturgically, most Passions were intended to be performed as part of church services in the Holy Week.

Passion settings developed from intoned readings of the Gospel texts relating Christ's Passion since Medieval times, to which later polyphonic settings were added. Passion Plays, another tradition that originated in the Middle Ages, could be provided with music such as hymns, contributing to Passion as a genre in music.

While in Catholicism the musical development of Tenebrae services became more pronounced than that of Passion settings, Passion cantatas, and later Passions in oratorio format, most often performed on Good Friday, became a focal point in Holy Week services in Protestantism. Its best known examples, such as Bach's Passion settings, date from the first half of the 18th century.

Later musical settings of the Passion of Christ, such as the Jesus Christ Superstar Rock opera, or Arvo Pärt's Passio refer to these earlier Christian traditions in varying degree.

Symphonic poem

A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. The German term Tondichtung (tone poem) appears to have been first used by the composer Carl Loewe in 1828. The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt first applied the term Symphonische Dichtung to his 13 works in this vein.

While many symphonic poems may compare in size and scale to symphonic movements (or even reach the length of an entire symphony), they are unlike traditional classical symphonic movements, in that their music is intended to inspire listeners to imagine or consider scenes, images, specific ideas or moods, and not (necessarily) to focus on following traditional patterns of musical form such as sonata form. This intention to inspire listeners was a direct consequence of Romanticism, which encouraged literary, pictorial and dramatic associations in music. According to Hugh Macdonald, the symphonic poem met three 19th-century aesthetic goals: it related music to outside sources; it often combined or compressed multiple movements into a single principal section; and it elevated instrumental program music to an aesthetic level that could be regarded as equivalent to, or higher than opera. The symphonic poem remained a popular composition form from the 1840s until the 1920s, when composers began to abandon the genre.

Some piano and chamber works, such as Arnold Schoenberg's string sextet Verklärte Nacht, have similarities with symphonic poems in their overall intent and effect. However, the term symphonic poem is generally accepted to refer to orchestral works. A symphonic poem may stand on its own (as do those of Richard Strauss), or it can be part of a series combined into a symphonic suite or cycle. For example, The Swan of Tuonela (1895) is a tone poem from Jean Sibelius's Lemminkäinen Suite, and Vltava (The Moldau) by Bedřich Smetana is part of the six-work cycle Má vlast.

While the terms symphonic poem and tone poem have often been used interchangeably, some composers such as Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius have preferred the latter term for their works.

Wilhelm Strienz

Wilhelm Strienz (2 September 1900 in Stuttgart – 10 May 1987 in Frankfurt am Main) was a German bass operatic singer.

Strienz made his debut in 1922 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as the hermit in Weber's Der Freischütz. In subsequent years, he performed at the opera houses of Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart. His roles included Mephistopheles in Gounod's Faust, van Bett in Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann, and numerous Wagnerian roles.

Between 1926 and 1933, Strienz worked for the newly founded Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. After the seizure of power in Germany by the Nazis in 1933, broadcasting director Ernst Hardt was dismissed but Strienz joined the S.A. and was engaged by the Berlin State Opera. In 1935, he recorded Deutsch sein heißt treu sein! (To be German is to be loyal) and Flieg', Deutsche Fahne Flieg'! (Fly, German flag) on the Electrola label, and subsequently became a popular performer on radio best known by the nickname Willi Strienz. In 1936, he sang in the Nationalsozialistische Kulturgemeinde-produced film Ewiger Wald (Eternal Forest). He continued to fulfill operatic engagements and guested at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. in London. In 1937 and 1938, he sang Sarastro in the first complete recording of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Thomas Beecham, and in 1943 Falstaff in the first complete recording of Nicolai's opera Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor) under Artur Rother, also in Berlin, both of these major German roles with overpowering magnificence and grandeur of voice and interpretation. He was also known for his renditions of the ballads Der Nöck (The Water Sprite) by August Kopisch and Die Uhr (The Clock) by Johann Gabriel Seidl, both set to music by Carl Loewe.Because of his great popularity, the Nazi regime called on him after the start of World War II to sing on the popular radio music show Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht (Request Concert for the Armed Forces), where he was particularly renowned for his rendition of Gute Nacht, Mutter (Good Night, Mother) by Werner Bochmann. From 1940, he recorded various other war songs as a soloist. He also appeared in the propaganda films Wunschkonzert (1940) and Fronttheater (1942). In the final phase of the Second World War, Adolf Hitler included Strienz in the Gottbegnadeten list (list of those graced by God) as one of nine major concert singers in August 1944, exempting him from military service during the final stages of the war.

In the immediate post-war period, German broadcasters, especially in the Soviet occupation zone, boycotted Strienz since his name was associated with Nazi propaganda of the war years. But he continued his singing career nonetheless, making successful tours and receiving a record contract from Decca. He ended his singing career in 1963 and retired into private life.

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