The Kennedy Center

Ignaz (Jakob) Holzbauer


Born September 18, 1711 in Wien, Austria
Died on – April 7, 1783 in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Ignaz Jakob Holzbauer was a composer in many genres, writing for the theatre, concert hall and for the cinema.    He was also a member of the Mannheim school, once considered one of the great orchestras of their time.  He is best remembered for his opera Günter von Schwartzburg, it was the first serious German language opera. 
Ignaz Holzbauer would go on to study music against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to study the law.  He studied singing, keyboard instruments, the violin and the cello with students in the choir at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.  He self-taught himself counterpoint by studying Johann Joseph Fux music, Gradus ad Parnassum and his favorable counterpoint exercises helped him to get a recommendation to pursue further musical studies in Italy.  Sometime around 1730 he traveled to Venice but returned to Vienna to accept a Kapellmeister post at Count Rottal of Holešov in Moravia.  While there he married singer Rosalie Andreides in 1737.  Together they worked in the Imperial court in Vienna and also in Milan, Venice.  While there he directed the court theatre and composed several ballets and his wife sung there.  The couple returned to Vienna around 1747 because that was the year he composed ballet music for Hasse’s Arminio.  After Vienna they moved to Stuttgart in 1751 where he succeeded Brescianello as Oberkapellmeister at the Stuttgart court, he held this position for almost two years.  And was a musical director at the Vienna court theatre.  Two years later, after the successful performance of his opera Il figlio delle selve he was offered a position at the Mannheim court. 
The Mannheim school greatly influenced his life.  The Mannheim School thrived during the years of 1743-78 under the reign of the Elector Palatine Karl Theodor.   The composers helped the development of the Viennese classical style and orchestral technique.  He entered the service of Karl Theodore in 1753 as court Kapellmeisterafter.  It was because of his earlier successes which led to a job offer from the court at Mannheim.  He was able to have a 25 year career there and spent the rest of his life, continuing to compose and to teach.  His students at the Mannheim included: Johann Anton Friedrich Fleischmann the pianist and Carl Stamitz.  He died in Mannheim, Germany at age 71.
Ignaz (Jakob) Holzbauer