Ries, Ferdinand



German pianist and composer, noted chiefly as Beethoven's biographer; born at Bonn, where his father was leader of orchestra and musical director to the Elector of Cologne. His first lessons were received from his father. Also studied under Bernhard Romberg, the cellist. In 1801 he became a piano pupil of Beethoven at Vienna. The great composer had been a friend of Ries' father at Bonn, and showed every favor to the youth. He studied composition under Albrechtsberger for a short time, and remained for years under the instruction of Beethoven. After two years in Paris he made concert tours through parts of Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia, joining his former teacher, Romberg, in St. Petersburg. The war of 1812 breaking out, he sought refuge in England, settling in London, and there became prominent as a teacher, pianist and composer. In 1824, having fallen heir to an estate near Bonn, he retired to devote himself to composition, and six years later appeared in Frankfort, where his opera, La Fiancee du Brigand, was produced. In 1831 he again visited England, brought out a fairy opera, Liska (The Sorcerer), and conducted festivals at Dublin. Returning to his home in Frankfort he conducted several festivals on the Lower Rhine, and for a year before his death the Cecilia Society. From 1834 to 1836 he was musical director to the town of Aix-la-Chapelle, where he brought out an oratorio, The Adoration of the Magi. He wrote in all over two hundred compositions, including the operas mentioned and another, Eine Nacht auf dem Libanon, never performed; also two oratorios, Der Sieg des Glaubens, and Die Konige Israels; six symphonies for full orchestra; three overtures; six quintets; five trios, three quartets, one quintet, two sextets, one septet, and one octet for various instruments with piano; for strings, six quintets and fourteen quartets; for violin, a concerto and two sonatas, also a sonata for cello, a trio for two pianos and harp; over fifty sonatas for piano, and other piano solos; songs and partsongs. Like most prolific composers, his compositions have not proved of lasting worth. The work by which he is best remembered is his Biographical Notices of Beethoven.