Keiser, Reinhard


German opera composer, who performed a service for Germany corresponding to that of Lully in France and Purcell in England. He was born at Teuchern, near Weissenfels, Leipsic, where his father, a church composer, gave him his first lessons. He went to the Thomasschule, Leipsic, where he studied under Johann Schelle, and began playing at concerts. In 1692 he wrote a pastoral, Ismene, for the Brunswick Court, which made a most favorable impression. In 1694 he went to Hamburg, where forty years of his life were spent writing the one hundred and sixteen operas which won for  him at least a temporary fame. In 1703, with Drüsicke, Keiser took entire charge of the opera, but the combination was unsuccessful as Drüsicke afterwards absconded. However the bad fortune did not overcome Keiser, for he wrote eight new operas, married the daughter of a wealthy patrician of Hamburg, and in a year's time was again living in his accustomed ease and luxury.

He was at the Stuttgart Court for two years, and in 1722 went to Denmark and became chapelmaster to the King at Copenhagen. This turned his attention to church-music, which he composed very well in spite of his somewhat unreligious temperament, and the dramatic form which he used. He continued composing operas, however, until the year of his death. Reiser's influence on German opera was important though not lasting. His work was powerful at first, but it degenerated and his original standard was lowered. He cast aside all Italian influence and wrote music which was strictly German. He used popular subjects, usually either mythological or historical, and the vernacular of the people, which largely accounts for his popularity with the masses. One important thing he accomplished was the destruction of the Singspiel, or musical farce. His music was sweet and spontaneous, but his great mistake was the use of the oratorioopera form, which caused the operas of Scarlatti and Handel even to perish. Elson speaks of him as " a brilliant but decidedly careless composer," but admits that he was a master of expression and that he labored earnestly if somewhat spasmodically for dramatic truth. Among his numerous operas are Irene, the first, which appeared in 1697; Stortebecker und Godge Michaels; Die Leipziger Messe; Der Hamburger Jahrmarkt; Die Hamburger Schlachtzeit; and Circe, the last, produced in 1734. His church-music includes oratorios, which he wrote very successfully; cantatas; psalms; passions; motets; and songs and duets with the harpsichord.


(Albert von Keler right name)


Hungarian writer of dance and orchestra music; born at Bartfeld. His career is quite picturesque, for he tried the law and farming before he gave up his desire to become a musician. He studied with Sechter and Schlesinger at Vienna, then played the violin in a theatre, directed several orchestras, and became bandmaster to an infantry regiment, finally ending as conductor of the Kur Orchestra at Wiesbaden in 1770, which was the last position his health permitted him to hold. He wrote some very popular dance-music, overtures and violin solos.