HILLER, Ferdinand (1811-1885). German composer and conductor.
Autograph Letter Signed to one of the organisers of the Birmingham Music Festival, 3 pages 8vo, Cologne, 21 September 1870. Referring to the success of his work [the cantata 'Nala and Damayanti'] and thanking his correspondent for his hospitality.
'... after so many good days spent in England.we had rather remorses to be so happy when misery takes so dreadful extensions [referring to the Franco-Prussian War] ... I must express you ... that I am very happy that the kind invitation of your committee had brought me to the composition of a work which has been successful.'
The cantata 'Nala and Damayanti' had been composed by Hiller expressly for the Festival. Described by The Morning Post of 3 September 1870 as 'by far the most important and the most musicianlike work produced during the festival', it was a 'magnificent success', despite the 'slovenly' performance of the orchestra. According to The Standard, 'the reception of Dr. Hiller was of no ordinary kind': '.after the conclusion of the work a perfect storm of applause broke out, and Dr. Hiller had twice to ascend the orchestral platform to acknowledge the compliments paid him.'
Hiller had travelled to England with his daughter Antonie ('Tony'). Included here is an autograph letter by her to Mr Beale, thanking him for his hospitality during their stay in Birmingham and referring to money she earned there (3 pages 8vo, Cologne, 20 September 1870). Tony was later to marry the German pianist and teacher James Kwast.
Hiller was at the centre of 19th-century European musical life: he had been at Beethoven's deathbed with his teacher Hummel; Max Bruch was his pupil; and his friends included Wagner, Rossini, Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz, Brahms and Schumann. His close friendship with Felix Mendelssohn ended when he succeeded him as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1843. In 1850 he founded the Cologne Conservatoire and was the city Kapellmeister in Cologne for 34 years (1850-1884).
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