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Johann (Nepomuk) Hummel


Once considered the foremost rival to Beethoven, particularly in his piano improvisations, Hummel was famous throughout his lifetime, but his reputation declined after his death owing to his excessive productivity not quite matching its quality. Born in what is now Bratislava in November 1778, Hummel's piano playing soon acquired prodigy status, even attracting the attention of Mozart, who actually took him into his home until 1788, after which he embarked on concerts tours as a child pianist, staying in England until 1792 and then returning to the continent to study with Albrechstberger and Salieri, also studying the organ with Joseph Haydn. In 1818, after two rather unproductive years as Kapellmeister at Stuttgart, Hummel was appointed to the much more congenial post in Weimar, where he remained until his death in 1837 – the consequences of chronic obesity.

Hummel's widow Elizabeth endeavoured to maintain his standing as the foremost exponent of German pianistic Art – despite Franz Liszt living in Weimar from 1848 (it is thought that she never spoke to him!).

Hummel wrote much educational piano music, particularly his 'Piano School' ('Klavierschule'); this selection features four. Also, Hummel contributed Variation 16 to the 50 created by the somewhat trite theme by Anton Diabelli, published as 'Vaterlandischer Kunstlerverein – Veranderungen'!