Nicolai, Carl Otto Ehrenfried



Successful composer of opera; born at Konigsberg in 1810. He was well grounded in piano study at home, but otherwise his education was neglected. When sixteen years old he ran away from an unhappy home and found in Justizrath Adler of Stargard a friend and guardian. With Adler's assistance he finished his musical studies at Berlin with Klein and Zelter. When Bunsen, ambassador at Rome, sent for Nicolai to take the place of organist at the Chapel of the Prussian Embassy he had the opportunity of studying the Italian works of the old school, and this study had much influence upon his compositions. While in Rome he produced several operas. He left Rome in 1837 for Vienna, where he became singing master of a theatre but returnd to Rome the following year and for three years gave his time to the composition of a series of operas. Nicolai's mass, composed in 1843, which was dedicated to Frederick William IV., and in 1844 a festival overture for the Jubilee of the University of Konigsberg led to his appointment as director of the famous Domchor, where many of his successful sacred compositions were rendered, and later of chapelmaster at tfce Royal Opera, where he proved himslf to be a most able conductor. In 1847 he gave a farewell concert in Vienna, at which Jenny Lind sang. His masterpiece he composed in 1848 and it was produced in 1849, two months before his death. It was his comic opera The Merry Wives of Windsor, an excellent imaginative composition, full of keen humor and delightful romance. It was a most brilliant success, given in Vienna and London. Among his many operas were II Templario; Enrico Secondo; Odoardo e Gildippe; Rosmonda d'lnghilterra and others produced in various cities of Italy and Germany.