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HILLER, FERDINAND:

German composer and musical writer; born at Frankfort-on-the-Main Oct. 24, 1811; died at Cologne May 10, 1885. He studied with Hofmann (violin), Aloys Schmitt (pianoforte), and Vollweiler (harmony and counterpoint). At the age of ten he played a Mozart concerto in public, and he began to compose at twelve. After a supplementary course of two years under Hummel at Weimar, he accompanied him on a professional tour to Vienna. The following is one ofseveral short verses which were written on his departure by Goethe:

"Ein Talent das Jedem frommt, Hast du in Besitz genommen; Wer mit holden Tönen kommt, Ueberall ist der willkommen."

An interesting account of this journey is given by Hiller in the sketch entitled "Aus den Letzten Tagen Ludwig van Beethoven's," contained in his "Aus dem Tonleben Unserer Zeit" (Leipsic, 1871). From Vienna, where he saw Beethoven upon his death-bed, he returned to Frankfort. In 1828 he went to Paris. He lived there for seven years, and taught at Choron's Institution de la Musique.

Shortly after the death of his father, Hiller's mother, a highly gifted woman, joined her son in Paris. His house then became the rendezvous for many celebrities of the day—Cherubini, Rossini, Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz, Nourrit, Heine, and Bürne being among the brilliant coterie assembling there. Hiller also gave a number of concerts in Paris (generally in association with Fétis and Baillot), and it was he who first introduced Beethoven's Concerto in E flat to the Parisian public. In 1836-37 he conducted at Frankfort the concerts of the Cäcilien-Verein. In 1838 Hiller went to Italy; his opera "Romilda" was produced at La Scala, Milan, in 1839. The failure of this work was balanced by the extraordinary success of his oratorio "Die Zerstörung Jerusalems," the production of which at Leipsic, during the winter of 1839-40, the composer, at the solicitation of Mendelssohn, personally superintended.

Returning to Germany in 1842 from a second short stay in Italy, Hiller went to Leipsic, where, during the absence of Felix Mendelssohn, he conducted the Gewandhaus concerts for the season of 1843-44. To this period belong his two operas "Traum der Christnacht" and "Conradin." In 1847 he became municipal "Kapellmeister" at Düsseldorf, and in 1850 accepted a similar position at Cologne. During the season of 1852 he was conductor of the opera at the Théâtre Italien in Paris.

In 1849 he was elected a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin, and in 1868 he received the honorary degree of "doctor" from the University of Bonn. He retired Oct. 1, 1884. Hiller embraced the Christian faith.

Among Hiller's principal literary productions may be mentioned: "Die Musik und das Publikum" (1864); "Ludwig van Beethoven" (1871); "Aus dem Tonleben Unserer Zeit" (2 vols., 1868; new series, 1871); "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Briefe und Erinnerungen" (1874; 2d ed., 1878); "Musikalisches und Persönliches" (1876); "Goethe's Musikalisches Leben" (1883); "Uebungen zum Studium der Harmonie und des Kontrapunktes" (14th ed., 1891).

Bibliography:
  • Musikalisches Wochenblatt. Leipsic, ii.;
  • Champlin, Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians;
  • Mendel, Musikalisches Konversations-Lexikon.
S. J. So.
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