(b Sofia, 26 July 1929). French pianist of Bulgarian birth. At the age of three he began musical studies under Pancho Vladiguerov. In 1945 he went as a refugee to Israel, where he gave his first performance with an orchestra. He entered the Juilliard School of Music in 1946 as a pupil of Olga Samaroff; the following year, having won the Leventritt International Competition, he made his New York début under Szell, and an international career commenced, which he interrupted in 1956 with a ten-year period of retirement, for study and teaching. In November 1966 he played again in Paris, and since then has fashioned a wide-ranging second career. His Royal Festival Hall début was in June 1974, and the same year he recorded the complete Beethoven piano concertos with von Karajan. He is an occasional member of international piano competition juries. A pianist of virtuoso technique, with wide repertory but a particular interest in the Romantic period (especially the music of Chopin and Schumann), he can give in live performance the impression of a forceful flamboyance of style in which sensitivity is sometimes swept aside.
MAX LOPPERT/JESSICA DUCHEN
Weissenborn, (Christian) Julius
(b Friedrichs-Tanneck, Thuringia, 13 April 1837; d Leipzig, 21 April 1888). German bassoonist and teacher. He was leading bassoonist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra from 1857 to 1887. From 1882 until his death he was professor at the Leipzig Conservatory, the first teacher of bassoon to be appointed. Though he composed orchestral and choral works, he is remembered for the excellent teaching material, still in print and widely used, that he wrote for the bassoon. This comprises a tutor for the improved Heckel model bassoon of 1885 (Praktische Fagott-Schule, Leipzig, 1887), two books of studies, some shorter pieces for bassoon and piano, and a set of trios for three bassoons; these were originally intended to form part of one single comprehensive work.
Weissenburg, Johann Heinrich von.
Town in Saxon-Anhalt, Germany. It had particular musical importance in the Baroque period, but church music activities can be traced back to the 13th century. Heinrich Schütz’s father Christoph was mayor and owned the inn Zum Schützen, where Heinrich spent his youth. In 1651 he bought a house close to his father’s former inn and lived there for many of his last years, when not serving the Dresden court. Weissenfels became the site of the court of the dukes of Sachsen-Weissenfels, a royal line created by Prince Johann Georg I of Saxony in 1657 and first headed by Duke August. A vigorous cultivation of the musical arts began under his son Johann Adolf I (1680–97); a Hofkapelle was established in 1680 in the Neu-Augustusburg palace and an opera theatre was opened there in 1685. Music continued to flourish under successive dukes, first under Johann Adolf’s son Johann Georg (1697–1712) and then under his brother Christian (1712–36). Another brother, Johann Adolf II, the last of the line (1736–46), gradually reduced the musical forces at court. Until then the Hofkapelle (see Werner) had grown steadily in size. Around 1726 it included 30 musicians in addition to the director Johann Gotthilf Krieger, whose father J.P. Krieger had been its director, 1680–1725. The Hofoper was especially important under the direction of the latter. Famous in its day, it performed German opera in Weissenfels almost every year from 1684 to 1730; the company also toured to cites such as Weimar. Besides Krieger’s works and those of his pupil J.A. Kobelius, Hofoper composer from 1715 to 1729, operas were often imported from neighbouring Leipzig and performed in part by university students, including works by N.A. Strungk, Keiser, Heinichen and Telemann.
Directors of the court orchestra included Johann Beer (1686–1700), Pantaleon Hebenstreit (c1698–1707) and Johann Georg Linike (1711–21). Other significant musicians active in Weissenfels at this time were Christian Edelmann (court organist, 1685–91), Wilhelm C. Schieferdecker (town organist, 1701–11) and Johann C. Schieferdecker (court Kantor, 1720–40). J.S. Bach held the largely honorary title of ‘Fürstlich sächsisch-weissenfelsischer Capellmeister, “von Haus aus”’, and composed the so-called ‘Jagdkantate’ bwv208 for the birthday of Duke Christian (probably in 1713). The young Handel visited the town with his father on many occasions.
The flowering of German opera at Weissenfels ended in 1746, when the ducal line died out, and in the second half of the 18th century the significance of music in the town declined. During the 19th century there was strong support for educational musical activities, and an organ workshop was set up in 1846 by Friedrich Ladegast, who built organs in Leipzig (Nikolaikirche), Merseburg and Schwerin, as well as for the Stadtkirche in Weissenfels. A municipal symphony orchestra was founded about 1890. In the 20th century Weissenfels became part of the industrial region of Halle and of its musical life. To mark the 400th anniversary of Schütz’s birth in 1985, his house at 13 Nikolaistrasse was converted into a museum and research centre.
MGG2 (T. Fuchs)
F.Gerhardt: Geschichte der Stadt Weissenfels (Weissenfels, 1907)
A.Werner: Städtische und fürstliche Musikpflege in Weissenfels bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1911)