Louis Spohr, a Conductor of the Nineteenth Century

Louis Spohr was a prolific German composer, violinist, and conductor at the beginning of the early nineteenth century (Weyer M, 1980). He was born in Brunswick in 1784 in Germany. Louis Spohr was considered to be one of the finest composers of his time. His parents were also musicians; his mother was a pianist while his father played a flute. Louis Spohr was introduced to violin by Dufour who had recognized his musical talent 1790s where he composed his first composition (Longyear R, 1988). Violin Concerto was Spohr’s first notable compositions, which was successful tour in Northern Germany in 1804(Longyear R, 1988).

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Louis Spohr produced more than 150 works with opus numbers, in addition to a number of works without such numbers. He wrote music in all genres (Brown C, 1984). Spohr wrote 16 violin concertos, more than any other composer of his time. Spohr was a noted violinist, and invented the violin chinrest, about 1820 (Weyer M, 1980).

He was also a significant conductor, being one of the first to use a baton a practice unusual at the time and one that alarmed orchestral players in London, who anticipated aggressive intentions (Weyer M, 1980). A baton is usually held in the right hand though some left-handed conductors hold it in the left. The usual way of holding the baton is between the thumb and the first two fingers with the grip in against the palm of the hand.

He also invented rehearsal letters, which are placed periodically throughout a piece of sheet music so that a conductor may save time by asking the orchestra or singers to start playing “from letter C” (Brown C, 1984). This is a boldface letter of the alphabet in an orchestral score, and its corresponding parts, provides a convenient spot from which to resume rehearsal after a break. Rehearsal letters are most often used in scores of the Romantic era (Brown C, 1984).

Louis Spohr had a chamber music that is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments that is performed by a small number of performers and the music can be performed in a small room (Longyear R, 1988). This a series of no fewer than 36 string quartets, as well as four interesting double quartets for two string quartets (Longyear R, 1988).

He also wrote an assortment of other quartets, duos, trios, quintets and sextets, an octet and a nonet, works for solo violin and for solo harp, and works for violin and harp to be played by him and his wife together (Longyear R, 1988).

From the above discussion regarded the works of Louis Spohr who was a recognized conductor of at the beginning of the early nineteenth century it is evident one of significant role of at that time was to compose works which were to be conducted. This in essence gave the conductors a moral authority to dictate how the details of the performance would be executed.

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From the discussion above it can be seen that the role of conductor at the beginning of the early nineteenth century was also to play instruments and writing the works.

The role of the conductor has changed change over time. The genesis of this change can be attributed to the need for a central figure to coordinate the performances of ensembles too large or performing music too complex as well as functioning as self-directing entities (Longyear R, 1988). For much of the history of ensemble music, reveals that a conductor was a member of the ensemble, where in most cases was the leader of the first violin section or the keyboard continuo player (Weyer M, 1980).

As the time went on these ensembles became larger and less homogeneous, and as opera became more prevalent, the role of coordinator became separated from that of instrumentalist (Weyer M, 1980). However, it is worth noting that there are a number of modern-day soloists who also handle the conductor’s role during concertos (Longyear R, 1988).

References

Brown, Clive (1984). Louis Spohr: A Critical Biography. Cambridge University Press.

Weyer, M (1980). “Spohr, Louis”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, Macmillan Publishers Limited.

Longyear, R (1988). Nineteenth-Century Romanticism in Music. Prentice Hall.

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