Neukomm, Sigismund



A most prolific composer, whose works are said to number over one thousand and include oratorios, masses, morning and evening services, psalms, operas, symphonies, military marches, concertos, French, English, Italian and German songs. He was born at Salzburg in 1778; was a pupil of Weissauer and of Michael Haydn and when fifteen years old was University organist. In 1798 he went to Vienna and there studied with Joseph Haydn who became his friend and almost guardian. He became a member of the Stockholm Academy in 1807 and then conductor of German Opera in St. Petersburg. He returned to Vienna to be with Haydn during his last illness, and then went to Paris as pianist to Talleyrand. It was in Paris that he composed a requiem for Louis XVI., for which in 1815 Louis XVIII. made him Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He remained in Talleyrand's service until 1826, after which he traveled for many years in Italy, Holland, Belgium, England and Scotland, with Talleyrand on his embassy to England in 1830; was in Germany in 1832, Italy 1833 and 1834 and the year following in southern France and Algiers. Ill health prevented an intended visit to North America, and the last years of his life he spent in Paris and London, and died in Paris in 1858. He was very popular in England until the advent of Mendelssohn in 1837 who eclipsed him as a musician; but though lacking real greatness as an artist he lacked none as a man, and held the friendship of Mendelssohn as   long as he lived. He was also intimate with Cherubini, Cuvier, Gretry and Moscheles. Neukomm was an indefatigable worker and aside from his large number of composition he contributed to several musical periodicals.