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CHRISTIAN CANNABICH  

(1731 - 1798)

Christian Cannabich was born in Mennheim in 1731, the son of a famous flautist. He was a pupil of Johann Stamitz, and became a member of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, the finest European ensemble in the 18th century, at the early age of fifteen. Much of his later education came in Italy, and it was the style of the music he experienced there that was to influence much of his compositional output. His music was particularly admired in France, and it was in Paris that his early music was published. Cannabich was later to return to the Mannheim Orchestra as their Music Director. It was a position he held for twenty-four years, until his death in 1798, during which time the orchestra was to enjoy enormous success, Mozart describing him as "the best director I have ever seen". His fame in this sphere tended to overshadow his outstanding catalogue of compositions, in which he listed seventy-six symphonies. Music: There would appear to have been some jealousy in Leopold Mozart's oft quoted criticism of Cannabich's symphonies, the works showing a wealth of melodic invention, with vivacious finales. The six symphonies of his opus 10 are in three movements, and in the conventional format, fast - slow - fast. They were published in 1772, in the composer's mid-career, and scored for a modest sized orchestra, three of the symphonies extended to the use of pairs of flutes and horns. It would appear that the composer had no hard and fast rules, and would have been quite happy to substitute other instruments, with the possibility that he added bassoons when available to support the base line. It would be true to say that Cannabich's melodies do not rival the younger Mozart's finest creations, but there is an elegance in his writing that would equal anything composed at this time. The craftsmanship is exemplary, and his knowledge of the orchestral colours available to him brought many unusual harmonies. Yet his greatest pleasure comes in the sense of happiness that pervades the music, the opening Allegro to the 47th symphony being an ideal example. The works are performed in the order in which they were first published, which does not agree with the composer's numbering.

Role: Classical Composer 
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8:38:00 PM, 30 July 2014
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