(b Berlin, 1 Aug 1877; d Berlin, 26 Oct 1930). German music collector and critic. After taking a degree at Leipzig University in jurisprudence (1899) and practising as a lawyer for some years, he studied musicology with Fleischer, Klatte, Kretzschmar and Wolf at Berlin (1906–9). Though he published some articles on music history and music bibliography, he was active mainly as a music critic, and became a chairman of the Verband Deutscher Musikkritiker and secretary of the Gesellschaft für Ästhetik. His most conspicuous achievement was the methodical amassing of a music library of manuscripts and printed source material from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and a comprehensive collection of writings about music. After trying unsuccessfully to find a buyer for the whole collection at 650,000 marks, Wolffheim had the library auctioned by the firms of Martin Breslauer and Leo Liepmannssohn of Berlin on 13–16 June 1928 and 3–8 June 1929. The elaborate and well-illustrated auction catalogue (1928) has become a standard work of bibliographical reference. Numerous European and American public and private libraries enriched their holdings through purchases made at this, the most important auction of its kind in the 20th century.
‘W.A. Mozart Sohn’, ZIMG, x (1908–9), 20–27
‘Hans Bach: der Spielmann’, BJb 1910, 70–85
‘Mitteilungen zur Geschichte der Hofmusik in Celle (1635–1706) und über Arnold M. Brunckhorst’, Festschrift … Rochus Freiherrn von Liliencron (Leipzig, 1910/R), 421–39
ed., with H.Springer and M.Schneider: Miscellanea musicae bio-bibliographica: musikgeschichtliche Quellennachweise als Nachträge und Verbesserungen zu Eitners Quellenlexikon (Leipzig, 1912–16, 2/1947)
‘Die Möllersche Handschrift’, BJb 1912, 42–60
Kurzes Verzeichnis der Tabulatur-Drucke in der Bibliothek Dr. Werner Wolffheim (Berlin, 1921) [20 copies privately printed for M. Breslauer]
Versteigerung der Musikbibliothek des Herrn Dr Werner Wolffheim (Berlin, 1928–9)
Wölfl [Wölffl, Woelfl], Joseph
(b Salzburg, 24 Dec 1773; d London, 21 May 1812). Austrian pianist and composer. His earliest musical instruction was as a chorister at Salzburg Cathedral from 1783 to 1786, where he studied with Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn. In 1790, on his father’s advice, he went to Vienna, apparently to study with the younger Mozart, though it is unclear whether he ever became his pupil and how close their relationship actually was. Some authorities claim, however, that it was through Mozart’s intervention that Wölfl was appointed composer to Count Ogiński in Warsaw, where in 1792 he made his first public appearance as a pianist.
Having established a reputation both as a performer and a teacher, Wölfl returned to Vienna in 1795, where his talents propelled him to the forefront of public attention. He was soon regarded as the only serious rival to Beethoven; indeed, the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung preferred his ‘unpretentious, pleasant demeanour’ to Beethoven's more emotionally charged style and praised him for playing that showed ‘not just a pleasing originality, but also a very rare combination of power and delicacy’. In 1798 he married the singer Therese Klemm and the following year embarked on a lengthy concert tour that took him to Brno, Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin and Paris. He was well received everywhere (in Hamburg his skill at improvisation led to favourable comparisons with C.P.E. Bach), but nowhere more so than Paris, where his welcome was every bit as rapturous as that he had received in Vienna, with the Journal de Paris describing him as ‘one of the most exciting pianists in Europe’.
In addition to his activities as a performer, Wölfl was also establishing a reputation as a composer. His first opera, Der Höllenberg, to a libretto by Schikaneder, was well received on its first performance in Vienna in 1795, as was Der Kopf ohne Mann three years later and the pasticcio Liebe machen kurzen Prozess. In Vienna he also began to compose instrumental music in earnest (his first two piano sonatas op.1 were probably composed several years earlier), dedicating his three piano trios op.5 to Haydn and his set of three piano sonatas op.6 to Beethoven. These activities continued in Paris, where in early 1804 his opera L’amour romanesque was performed to considerable acclaim.
The reasons for Wölfl's sudden departure from Paris in 1805 are unclear. Some authorities ascribe it to the lukewarm reception accorded his next opera, Fernando, though that seems unlikely given the high regard in which he was otherwise held. What is almost certainly true is that neither of two other popular explanations has any basis in fact: either, as Fétis would have it, that he fell in with the bass singer Ellenreich, who was a notorious card sharp and dragged Wölfl into some unspecified scandal; or, according to Schilling, that he became music master to the Empress Josephine, accompanied her to Switzerland following her divorce, and thence made his way to England.
In May 1805 Wölfl arrived in London and immediately set about establishing his reputation. He was enthusiastically fêted both as a performer and as a composer. His G major Piano Concerto op.36 (known as ‘Le calme’) was especially popular and performed at four concerts within the space of just two months; among his orchestral works, the G minor Symphony op.40, which he dedicated to Cherubini, was highly regarded. As in Paris, Wölfl tried to make his mark as an operatic composer, but apart from two well-received ballets, given at the King's Theatre, he failed to secure a commission. He died suddenly in May 1812, but for almost two years there was speculation, fuelled in part by the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, that he was still alive.
Tomášek has left a vivid description of Wölfl: ‘tall, very thin, with huge hands that could easily stretch a 13th’. He noted, however, that ‘Wölfl's peculiar virtuosity apart, his playing had neither light nor shade – he was entirely lacking in manly strength’. His piano compositions in many respects bear out this verdict. While they make, by the standards of the day, high technical demands, they generally lack emotional substance. Indeed, the commentary in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung on the op.6 sonatas has a rather wider application: ‘they are, on the whole, in the style of Clementi's best work, though are rather more learned and less delicate’ (AMZ, i (1798–9), 237). Though rarely performed today, Wölfl's piano music maintained its place in the repertory for several decades after his death and was only supplanted when its technical demands were overtaken by the advances of Schumann's generation.
Posterity has treated his other instrumental music even less kindly, for it passed out of circulation even more quickly. Here, Wölfl once again demonstrated his capacity for composing music whose essentially facile construction was cleverly masked by an instant melodic charm and grace. Above all, he was adept at writing for amateur performers: his flute sonatas op.35 were judged to be ‘just the kind of sonatas that second-rate dilettantes, especially the English, will want’ and which ‘a composer like Wölfl would write in his sleep’ (AMZ, x (1807–8), 110). At his best, however, as in the contrapuntal minuet of the G minor Symphony, Wölfl demonstrated a mastery of formal technique that is rarely encountered in composers of his kind. Despite his ardent desire to achieve recognition as an operatic composer, Wölfl achieved no lasting success with his stage works. Der Höllenberg contains some engaging melodies, but suffers from a weak libretto whose flaws Wölfl proved unable to mask satisfactorily.
As a teacher, Wölfl had a significant influence: his most distinguished pupil was Cipriani Potter. His pupils described him as exacting, and his Méthode de pianoforte is testament to the importance he placed on securing a rigorous and thorough technique. Several of his concert works were also written with a pedagogical purpose in mind. Of these, the most famous was his sonata ‘Non plus ultra’, whose final movement is a set of brilliant variations on Nägeli's song Freut euch des Lebens.
published as vocal scores
Der Höllenberg (heroic-comic op, 2, E. Schikaneder), Vienna, auf der Wieden, 21 Nov 1795 (Vienna and Brunswick, n.d.)
Das schöne Milchmädchen, oder Der Guckkasten (comic operetta, 1, J. Richter), Vienna, Kärntnertor, 5 Jan 1797
Der Kopf ohne Mann (heroic-comic op, 2, J. Perinet), Vienna, auf der Wieden, 3 Dec 1798; excerpts in Leipziger Zeitung, i/30
Liebe macht kurzen Prozess, oder Heirat auf gewisse Art (pasticcio, Perinet, after J. Rautenstrauch), Vienna, auf der Wieden, 26 March 1798, collab. F.X. Süssmayr, J. Henneberg, M. Stegmayr, F.A. Hoffmeister, I. von Seyfried, J. Haibel, J. Triebensee
Das trojanische Pferd (comic op, Schmieder), 1799, ?inc.
L'amour romanesque (Die romanhafte Liebe) (oc, 1, A. Charlemagne), Paris, Feydeau, 3 March 1804 (Leipzig, 1804)
Fernando, ou Les maures (heroic op, 3), Paris, Feydeau, 11 Feb 1805
La surprise de Diane (ballet), London, King's, 21 Sept 1805 (London, 1806)
Alzire (ballet, after Voltaire), London, King's, 27 Jan 1807 (London, ?1810)
Concs.: 7 for pf: G, orch ad lib, op.20, after 1801 (Paris, n.d.), E, op.26, before Aug 1803 (Leipzig, n.d.), F, op.32, before June 1805 (Paris, n.d.), ‘Le calme’, G, op.36, before July 1807 (Leipzig, n.d.), Grand concerto militaire, op.43, ?1799 (Offenbach, n.d.), ‘Le coucou’, D, op.49, before Oct 1810 (Leipzig, n.d.), E, op.64, ?16 May 1812; Concerto da camera, E, pf solo, 2 vn, fl, va, vc (Offenbach, n.d.); Conc., vn, pf, cited in AMZ, iii (1800–01), 237
Other orch: 2 syms., both (Leipzig, n.d.): no.1, g, op.40, 1803, no.2, D, op.41, before March 1808; ov., D; 12 deutsche Tänze, pf score (Vienna, 1796)
Chbr ens: 6 sonatas, 2 ob, 2 bn, 2 hn, op.3, autograph A-Sca[?= set of 6 sonatas, autograph Sca, ded. ‘Bl. Rauschgat in Hallein’]; 6 minuets, 2 hn, 2 ob/fl, 2 vn, bn, bc, Sca; 12 str qts: 3 as op.4, 1798 (Vienna, n.d.), 6 as op.10, 1799 (Leipzig n.d.), 3 as op.30, Jan 1805 (Leipzig, n.d.); 6 pf trios: 3 as op.5, 1798 (Augsburg, n.d.), 3 as op.23, before June 1803 (Munich, n.d.); Trio, pf, fl, vc, op.66 (Offenbach, n.d.); 2 trios, 2 cl, bn, cited in Grove1
Duos/duet sonatas: pf, fl obbl, op.13, before Aug 1801 (Vienna, n.d.); 3 for pf, vn, vc ad lib, op.16 (Offenbach, n.d.); d, pf, vn, op.68 (Offenbach, n.d.); pf, vc, op.31, before 1805 (Paris, n.d.), ed. F. Längin, HM, xci (1953); harp, pf, op.29, 1804 (Paris, n.d.); pf, harp/pf, op.37, before 1806 (Paris, n.d.); F, harp, pf, op.57
Harp: Sonata C, acc. fl, op.52, ?(London, 1810); Grand sonata, harp/pf, with theme from Mozart's Così fan tutte, cited in Grove1
4 hands: Sonata, op.17, 1803 (Leipzig, n.d.), as op.69 (Offenbach, n.d.); Sonata, op.42, acc. fl/vn, June 1810 (Leipzig, n.d.); 3 duos, fl/vn ad lib, op.45; Sonata, op.46 [?=op.42]
30 solo sonatas: 2 as op.1, ?1786 (Offenbach, 1795); 3 as op.3, 1797 (Vienna, n.d.); 3 as op.6 (Augsburg, 1798); 3 as op.55 (Offenbach, n.d.); 3 as op.15 after 1800 (Brunswick, n.d.); 1 as ‘Le diable à quatre’, op.50 (Offenbach, n.d.); 3 as op.22, before 3 Dec 1802 (Leipzig, n.d.); 2 in op.27, before Aug 1803 (Paris, n.d.); 3 as op.33, 1805 (Leipzig, n.d.); op.36 (London, 1806); op.38, before March 1808 (Offenbach, n.d.); ‘Non plus ultra’. op.41, before March 1808 (Offenbach, n.d.); 3 as op.53; 3 as op.54 (Offenbach, n.d.); op.58 (Leipzig, n.d.); op.60; op.62 (Offenbach, n.d.)
19 sonatas, acc. vn: 3 as op.2, 1796 (Vienna, n.d.); 3 as op.7, 1800 (Vienna, n.d.); 3 as op.14, before 4 May 1801 (Leipzig, n.d.), based on themes from Haydn's Creation; 2 in op.18 (Paris, n.d.); 3 as op.19, before Aug 1804 (Leipzig, n.d.); 3 sonatas progressives, op.24, 1803 (Paris, n.d.); op.27 no.3, before Aug 1803 (Paris, n.d.), as op.28 (Offenbach, n.d.); op.67 (Offenbach, n.d.)
Other kbd: 6 sonatas, acc. fl: 3 as op.11, before 3 March 1800 (Leipzig, n.d.), 3 as op.35, before Aug 1807 (Leipzig, n.d.); 6 sonatas, acc. fl/vn: 3 as op.34, before March 1807 (Leipzig, n.d.), 3 as op.47 (London, 1806); 3 sonatas, acc. vn, vc, op.25, before Aug 1803 (Vienna, n.d.); 3 sonatas, acc. fl, vc, op.48 before Sept 1810 (Leipzig, n.d.); Fantasie et fugue, op.9, 1803; Fantaisie, op.18 no.3 (Paris, n.d.); Divertissement ‘Venus en voyage’, op.59, before 1812 (Leipzig and Berlin, n.d.); 2de divertissement, op.61 (Offenbach, n.d.); Méthode de pianoforte, contenant 50 exercices, op.56, before 1810 (Offenbach, n.d.); many sets of variations, rondos, dances, marches, with and without acc., most without op. nos.
 Gesänge am Klavier (A. von Imhof, Ramler, others) (Leipzig, 1799)
An Lina, 1v, acc., D-Bsb
In einem kleinen Dörfchen, romance, B, A-Wgm
Auf die Namensfeier des Erzherzogs Karl, solo vv, chorus, Wgm