FERDINAND RIES (1784 - 1838)
Widely known for his reminiscences of Beethoven, Ferdinand Ries belonged to a family which, like Beethoven’s, had a long connection with the musical establishment of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne in Bonn. He studied the piano and violin with his father, who taught Beethoven and helped the latter’s family after their mother’s death. Ries studied briefly with Peter von Winter in Munich and then spent a period in Vienna, where he had piano lessons from Beethoven and lessons in theory and composition from Albrechtsberger. He established himself as an interpreter of Beethoven’s music, assisting him in various ways as a copyist and proof-reader. In 1809 he left Vienna on a series of concert tours in Germany, Russia, Scandinavia and, eventually, London, where he spent 11 years, until 1824. For several seasons he directed the Lower Rhine Festival and was able to carry out further concert tours.
Ries wrote operas, part-songs and a quantity of solo songs, setting texts in various languages. His choral music includes masonic cantatas, an oratorio and a Requiem.
Ries’s orchestral music includes symphonies and overtures, as well as eight piano concertos—one a ‘Farewell to London’ in 1824, and another a ‘Salut au Rhin’ or ‘Gruss an den Rhein’.
Ries was said by Beethoven to imitate him too much, a judgement that may seem harsh. As a performer Ries was highly esteemed and after leaving Vienna established himself in independence of his teacher. His chamber music includes works for ensembles of all kinds, from an octet and a septet to a series of duo sonatas, many of the last for violin and piano but with alternative instrumentation for flute or clarinet.
Rediscovering Ferdinand Ries by Susan Kagan