Eminent pianist, teacher and composer; born at Altona; received his entire musical education from his father. The first instrument that he learned was the violin, but later he turned his entire attention to the piano. In 1843 he played at a Gewandhaus concert Mendelssohn's Serenade and Allegro giojoso, the composer being present. His first concert tour was made that year through Denmark and Sweden. While in Leipsic he enjoyed the friendship of Mendelssohn and Schumann. After a second tour through northern Germany he became, in 1846, Court pianist at Copenhagen. After 1848 he lived in Paris, and was at this time instructor of piano and counterpoint in the Conservatory at Cologne; in 1854, musical director at Barmen, and in 1859 at the University of Breslau, where he established a series of orchestral concerts that hold an honorable place. The next year he became conductor in piano of the two daughters of Liszt. In 1858 he became professor of the Gewandhaus concerts at Leipsic, a post he retained until 1895, and also became professor of piano and composition at the Conservatory there. In 1897 he was made director of studies, and in 1884 had the degree of Doctor of Philosophy conferred upon him by the Leipsic University. The duties of his positions did not prevent him from making several additional concert tours in northern Europe. As a pianist, Reinecke is refined, quiet and intelligent in interpretation, and excels in the playing of Mozart's compositions. He is also a sympathetic accompanist.
His own compositions number over two hundred, comprising piano-music; chamber-music; the operas, King Manfred, Die Teufelchen, a fairy opera, Ein Abenteuer Handels, Der vierjahrige Posten, Auf hohen Befehl, and Der Gouverneur yon Tours; much choral music, including an oratorio, Belsazar; two masses; and five fairy cantatas, Schneewitchen, Aschenbrodel, Dornroschen, Die wilden Schwane, and Vorn Baumchen; and the orchestral works, incidental music to Schiller's Wilhelm Tell; three symphonies; five overtures; and a funeral march for Emperor Wilhelm I. His vocal works include the concert arias, Mirjams Siegesgeang, Das Hindumadchen, and Almansor; twenty canons for female voices, with piano; and song-cycles.
As one of the most prominent teachers in Germany, Reinecke has taught a number of famous musicians. Among his pupils in composition are Grieg, Syendsen, Chadwick, Sir Arthur Sullivan and Van der Stucken, Dr. Louis Maas and Rafael Joseffy. As a composer Reinecke has a thorough knowledge of the various instruments and of musical form, but is somewhat deficient in invention. His future reputation will rest on his children's songs and fairy cantatas. His shorter piano-pieces are gems of very moderate difficulty, especially Six TonePictures based on Tennyson's poem, Enoch Arden. Some influence of Wagner and Brahms, as well as of Mendelssohn and Schumann, is evident in his works, although his general tendency is toward classical forms. As an arranger he is perhaps more successful, an instance of merit being an improvisata for two pianos, based on a much-played gavotte by Gluck, into which Reinecke has woven skilfully one of Bach's musettes. He has edited a number of works for Breitkopf & Hartel, the well-known German publishers. He has received many orders and honors, and is much esteemed and loved for his personal character as well as honored for his attainments.