CARL REINECKE (1824 - 1910)
Nowadays Carl Reinecke is remembered in musical circles for his cadenzas to the concertos of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, while a wider public may perhaps know the flute sonata Undine, yet in the second half of the nineteenth century he was respected as one of the most influential and versatile musicians of the time, and as one of the most highly esteemed composers.
Carl Heinrich Reinecke was born on 23rd June, 1824, in the then Danish town of Altona, now a part of Hamburg. The year was the year of birth of Bruckner, of Cornelius and of Smetana. The son of a teacher of music, he was taught by his father and at the age of seven began to compose, making his first public appearance as pianist at the age of twelve. He undertook his first concert tour in 1843 as accompanist to the violinist H.W. Ernst, travelling to Copenhagen, where he met the composer Niels Gade. In the autumn of the same year he went to Leipzig for the first time, and there met Mendelssohn, the violinist Ferdinand David, Hiller and Schumann. Further concert tours in North Germany led, in 1846, to his appointment as Court Pianist in Denmark, where he remained until 1848.
A later visit to Leipzig brought Reinecke into contact with Liszt, whom he also visited in Weimar. The latter advised him, after a short stay in Bremen, to go to Paris, and there he was able to meet Berlioz, Stephen Heller and the composer Louis Théodore Gouvy. In 1851 Hiller invited him to join the staff of the Cologne Music School, where he worked for three years, his pupils including the young Max Bruch. In Cologne he also deputised for Hiller in choir rehearsals, gaining experience as a conductor and establishing his own choral group. In these years in Cologne he became friendly with Brahms and was often a guest of the Schumanns in nearby Düsseldorf. In 1854 he took over the direction of the choral society and concerts in Barmen and during the next five years raised the level of musical activity there, conducting on a number of occasions the Lower Rhineland choral festivals, before leaving in 1859 to spend a year as director of music at the University of Breslau.
1860 was a decisive year in Reinecke’s career. On the recommendation of Hiller and Gade he was appointed director of the Gewandhaus concerts in Leipzig, and professor of composition and piano at the Conservatory. He was to manage the concerts for the next 35 years and to serve as a teacher until 1902, his pupils including, Grieg, Reznicek, Sinding, Sullivan, Svendsen and Weingartner, among many others. After his retirement he devoted his time to composition and to writing on music. He died in Leipzig on 10th March, 1910, a much respected figure.