Michael Haydn - Contemporary composers


FRANZ IGNAZ BECK (1734 - 1809)

  Franz Ignaz Beck was born in Mannheim in 1734. He studied the violin with his father, Johann Aloys Beck, oboist and Rektor of the Choir School at the Palatinate Court in Mannheim. Later , when his father died, his musical education was taken over by Johann Stamitz, leader of the famous Mannheim court orchestra.

A curious story from Beck's youth, includes a duel where Beck was given to believe that he murdered his opponent. (This turned out to be a hoax, realised by Beck, when he met the 'dead' man years later in Paris.) Because of this episode, he fled to Venice where he was taught by Galuppi. He travelled, giving concerts on the violin, and also began composing. After a few years he eloped to Naples with his employer's daughter, Anna Oniga.

After some years in Italy Beck moved to Marseilles in the late-1750s. And France was to be his base for the rest of his life. He moved from Marseilles to Bordeaux where he was appointed conductor of the Grand Théâtre. He served there for nearly forty years. In 1774 he was appointed organist at St Seurin in Bordeaux.

Beck seems to have had little difficulty finding the right path in the revolutionary climate, writing patriotic music during the Revolution and in 1806 dedicating his Stabat Mater to Napoleon.

Beck died on December 31st 1809. He will be best remembered for his symphonies, many of them being very innovative and ahead of their time.


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