Kucken, Friedrich Wilhelm


German song-writer; well known and loved by the people, but considered of small importance by musicians. He was born at Bleckede, in Hanover, and his father, a plain man with very practical ideas, did what he could to discourage the son's musical ambitions. Young Kücken, however, studied with his brother-in-law, Lührss, and with Aron at Schwerin, where he played in the Duke's Orchestra. His first efforts in composition were so favorably received that he was hired as a teacher in the Royal family, but his ambitions led him to Berlin in 1832, where he studied with Birnbach, and in 1839 successfully brought out his first opera, The Flight to Switzerland. In 1841 he studied with Sechter at Vienna, and in 1843 directed the festival of male singers at St. Gall. He then studied three years at Paris under Halevy and Bordogni, after which he returned to Germany and produced another successful opera, The Pretender. In 1851 he accepted a position as chapelmaster at Stuttgart, and kept it until 1861. He died at Schwerin. He composed some instrumental music, but is celebrated chiefly for his songs which were widely known and enjoyed great popularity for a generation at least, even though they were not stamped with the seal of professional approval. The Thuringian folk-songs were among the best and most popular, and such others as Das Sternelein; O weine nicht; Trab, trab; The Maid of Judah; and The Swallows, being sung in England as well as on the Continent.