Mayr, Johann Simon



Operatic composer; born at Mendorf, Bavaria, but identified with the music of Italy. His musical talent was early cultivated by his father, the village schoolmaster and organist, and at the age of ten he entered the Jesuit Seminary at Ingolstadt. He became musical tutor for a nobleman named de Bessus, who sent him to study with Lenzi at Bergamo, in which city he spent the most of his life. Mayr found Lenzi a most inefficient teacher, and was just about to return to Germany when a canon of Bergamo, Count Presenti, sent him to Venice to study with Bertoni. Thrown on his own resources by the death of his patron, he took the advice of Piccini and began to write operas. In this he was very successful, producing more than seventy operas from 1794 to 1814. In 1802 he was made maestro di cappella of Santa Maria Maggiore at Bergamo, a position which he liked so well that he could not be induced to visit Paris, Dresden,, Lisbon or London, and even declined the position of censor to the Milan Conservatory in 1807. He was professor of composition at the Musical Institute of Bergamo, founded in 1805 and reorganized in 1811, in which capacity he did much for the cause of music, and taught many great musicians, among them Donizetti. He was very benevolent, founding the Scuola caritatevole di Musica and the Pio Institute di Bergamo for needy musicians and their widows. Seven years after his death, in 1845, the city of Bergamo erected a monument in his honor, and in 1875 removed his remains with those of Donizetti to Santa Maria Maggiore. His works were Italian in character and were performed chiefly in Italy. Among them are some' early songs published in Ratisbon; some masses and vespers; his oratorios, Jacob a Labanp fugiens, David, Tabiae matrimonium, and Sisarae; his opera, Saffo, ossia i rita d'Apollo Leucadio; Lauso e Lidia; Medea; Rosa bianca e Rosa rossa; Lodoiska and Ginevra di Scozia. He also wrote a life of Capuzzi and a book on Haydn.