Friedrich Kiel

Friedrich Kiel

Friedrich Kiel (Bad Laasphe, Puderbach, October 8 1821 – September 14 1885, Berlin) was a German composer and music teacher.

Writing of the chamber music of Friedrich Kiel, the famous scholar and critic Wilhelm Altmann notes that it was Kiel’s extreme modesty which kept him and his exceptional works from receiving the consideration they deserved. After mentioning Brahms and others, Altmann writes, “He produced a number of chamber works, which . . . need fear no comparison.”

Kiel was taught the rudiments of music and received his first piano lessons from his father, but was in large part self-taught. Something of a prodigy, he played the piano almost without instruction at the age of six, and by his thirteenth year he had composed much music. Kiel eventually came to the attention of Prince Wittgenstein, a great music lover. Through the Prince's efforts, Kiel was allowed to study violin with the concertmaster of the Prince’s fine orchestra with which he later performed as a soloist. Kiel was also given theory lessons from the renowned flautist Kaspar Kummer. By 1840, the eighteen year old Kiel was court conductor and the music teacher to the prince’s children. Two years later, Louis Spohr heard him and arranged for a scholarship which allowed Kiel to study in Berlin with the renowned theorist and teacher Siefried Dehn. In Berlin, Kiel eventually became sought after as an instructor. In 1866, he received a teaching position at the prestigious Stern conservatory, where he taught composition and was elevated to a professorship three years later. In 1870 he joined the faculty of the newly founded Hochschule für Musik which was shortly thereafter considered one of the finest music schools in Germany. Among his many students were Noskowski, Arthur Somervell, Charles Villiers Stanford, Frederic Hymen Cowen, Emil Sjögren, Waldemar von Baußnern, and Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Kiel's hobby was mountaineering and at age 60—two years before his tragic death as the result of a traffic accident—he climbed Europe's second highest peak, the Monte Rosa on the Swiss-Italian border.

Kiel's compositions number over seventy, including a piano concerto, motets, oratorios (including the "Star of Bethlehem") as well as a "Missa Solemnis" and two "Requiems".

Chamber music comprises a considerable part of Kiel's output and must be regarded among his most important and best compositions. (See list below) Wilhelm Altmann noted that, "throughout my long life, I have found Kiel’s chamber music a never-failing source of delight.” He highly praised Kiel as a melodist and lamented that it was “scandalously unjust” that Kiel’s two string quartets were as good as forgotten. Writing about Kiel's two Piano Quintets Opp.75 & 76 in The Chamber Music Journal, R.H.R. Silvertrust remarks, "Both of these quintets are as fine as any in the entire literature." Several of his chamber works, along with the piano concerto and some choral works, have been recorded.

Chamber Music Works

*Piano Trio No.1 in D Major, Op. 3
*Reisebilder for Cello & Piano, Op. 11
*Three Pieces for Cello & Piano, Op. 12
*Piano Trio No.2 in A Major, Op.22
*Piano Trio No.3 in E Flat Major, Op.24
*Piano Trio No.4 in c sharp minor, Op.33
*Variations on a Swedish Folksong for Violin & Piano, Op. 37
*Piano Quartet No.1 in a minor, Op.43
*Piano Quartet No.2 in E Major, Op.44
*Piano Quartet No.3 in G Major, Op.50
*Sonata for Violin & Piano, Op.51
*Sonata for Cello & Piano, Op. 52
*String Quartet No.1 in a minor, Op.53 No.1
*String Quartet No.2 in E Flat Major, Op.53, No.2
*Piano Trio No.5 in G Major, Op.65 No.1
*Piano Trio No.6 in g minor, Op.65 No.2
*Sonata for Viola & Piano, Op.67
*Waltzes for String Quartet, Op. 73
*Piano Quintet No.1 in A Major, Op.75
*Piano Quintet No.2 in c minor, Op.76


*Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, Ed. Cobbett, W.W., Oxford University Press, 1929 & 1963, London. ISBN 0 318304 8
*Handbuch fur Streichquartettspieler, Altmann, Wilhelm, Heinrichshofen Verlag, 1972, Amsterdam, ISBN 3 7959 0113 8
*Chamber Music Journal, Vol.XVII No.4 2006, pp.3, 10-12, ISSN 1535 1726

External links

*WIMA|idx=Kiel|name=Friedrich Kiel
*IMSLP|id=Kiel, Friedrich|cname=Friedrich Kiel
* [ Friedrich Kiel's Chamber Music Sound-bites and information on several chamber works.]
* [ Biography from Naxos site]
* [ Web site of the publisher (Dohr) of Kiel's music]
* [ Another, from Hyperion.]

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