Kastner, Johann Georg


Prolific composer and writer on musical topics; was born at Strasburg and died in Paris. He began studying with Maurer and Romer at Strasburg, and got a position as an organist when only ten years old. His family were determined to have him enter the ministry, and he was accordingly sent to a Lutheran Theological Seminary, but his heart was not in the work and he studied music as much as possible, giving up all idea of the ministry when he was twenty-two. In 1835, after four of his operas had been produced, the town council, recognizing his ability, sent him to Paris, where he became the pupil of Berton and Reicha. There he taught and composed and devoted himself to musical research work and to writing on musical theory. He was much interested in military music and organized a competition for national bands. He started the Association of Musical Artists, substantially aided the Orpheons, was made a Doctor of Philosophy and Music by Tubingen University, and a member of numerous honorary societies, among them The Legion of Honor. Among his works are the operas, Gustav Wasa, the first; Der Tod Oscar's; Der Sarazene; Die Konigin der Sarmaten; Beatrice; La Marchera, in French; Les Nonnes de Robert le Diable; and The Last King of Juda, a biblical opera, considered his masterpiece. Beside these he wrote some Livres-Partitions, musical compositions with introductory essays of a philosophical and historical character; an Encyclopaedia of Music; many didactic works, as a General Treatise on Instrumentation, which was praised by the Academy and used at the Conservatory; a Musical Grammar, an Abridged Theory of Counterpoint and the Fugue; and numerous others, all valuable.