Ignaz Moscheles described himself as the ‘necessary contrast’ (nothwendigen Contrast) between the old and the new schools of the nineteenth century. By tracing Moscheles’ prolific career and concert life from 1807 to 1846 and the relationship between the diverse events and the music performed, this thesis identifies Moscheles as a touring musician, virtuoso pianist, composer and conductor across Europe. It aims to give a glimpse of shared attributes of music making in the mid nineteenth century but also to restore credit of such a once prominent but bygone person who contributed so much to concert life.
Drawing from primary sources such as newspapers, periodicals, letters and playbills, it examines Moscheles’ reception and the listening experience of audiences and critics in the Austrian-German realm (Austria, Bohemia, Germany), Great Britain, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom of Netherlands, the Kingdom of Denmark and Sweden. With a focus on Moscheles as a well-travelled musician, the project sheds new light on aspects that can be further applicable to any nineteenth-century musicians: how they promoted themselves, secured patronage and organised concerts.
It proposes further that Moscheles was a transitional figure between the two schools and he made this manifest by three phases where he approached virtuosity differently. Moreover, he, as a pianist-composer, positioned his free fantasias as the connecting link between those phases. The thesis gives new perspectives on his methods, thematic choices and on how he established free improvisation into some fixed form. It then investigates their reception as well as further issues that arose.
As a performer, Moscheles affected the ways in which standard repertoire and canons were created. My analysis of his dominant repertoire, especially that of his pianoforte soirées, reveals his influence on the piano recital and audience behaviour. It emphasises his importance in building specific repertoire through his innovations, programming and the revival of early music, such as of Bach and Beethoven, in London. By way of conclusion, my thesis argues the importance of widening our knowledge about a non-canonised composer like Moscheles and enriching our own concert life by reviving some of his works.