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Johann Georg Albrechtsberger

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Biography

Albrechtsberger is a rare example of an immensely prolific composer and celebrated performer who whose work as an inspired teacher overshadowed his own musical accomplishments. This was a time of transition the Baroque style to the Classical world of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Essentially, Albrechtsberger is more esteemed for the standards he set than for his large (over 600 works) oeuvre. According to Haydn, Albrechtsberger was the best composition teacher in Vienna; he was a friend of Mozart, and Beethoven studied with him from 1794 to 1795. From the age of seven, Albrechtsberger was a choirboy with the Augustinians in Klosterneuburg, where he studied organ and composition. In 1765, he settled in Vienna and, after a series of posts as organist, became Assistant Kapellmeister at St. Stephen's Cathedral in 1791, On Mozart's recommendation he was made kapellmeister in 1793. From 1772 onwards, Albrechtsberger composed 284 church works, 278 keyboard works (mainly organ) and over 240 for other instrumental combinations. The instrumental compositions, both sacred and secular, helped build a bridge between earlier polyphonic and later styles. The vocal works, including oratorios, are developed in original ways from Baroque church sonatas. Albrechtsberger's influence as a teacher extended to the great Austrian composers of his time. His ideas were presented in his famous Treatise on Composition (1790), a clearly written and accessible work in which he formulated eighteenth-century theory. His arrangements of the works of many important composers, from Palestrina to Mozart, link, so to speak, the Renaissance with Classicism.
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