Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Hummel and Beethoven

Donald Macleod focuses on Hummel's career in Vienna, where he met Beethoven, with whom he had a rocky relationship.

Described as the Napoleon of the Piano, Chopin said he was one of the three greatest masters alongside Mozart and Beethoven. This week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

Hummel soon found himself returning to Vienna, dismissed by Prince Esterhazy in 1811. One bone of contention was that Hummel spent too much time writing stage works to be performed in Vienna instead of carrying out his official duties at Eisenstadt. One such stage work was Hummel's opera, Mathilde von Guise, about a fictitious princess who wishes to marry below her station.

In was in Vienna that Hummel met Beethoven and the two developed a rocky friendship. Soon, Hummel got married to a famous singer of the day, Elizabeth Rockel. This caused further tension between the two composers, as Beethoven may have had romantic designs on Rockel as well. Elizabeth would go on to sing a number of Hummel's songs, of which he composed many, including his Air a la Tirolienne with variations.

Hummel didn't remain in Vienna long and, with the support of his wife, started to tour as a pianist again. His name was becoming more recognised around Europe and, with this success, came the offer of a new position to the Wurttemberg Court in Stuttgart in 1816. He wowed the Stuttgart audiences with his piano playing, possibly with one of his recent compositions, the Piano Concerto in A minor Op.85.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Mathilde von Guise (overture)

    Performer: Solamente Naturali, Director: Didier Talpain,

    • Brilliant 94043.
    • 1.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Air a la Tirolienne avec variations, Op. 118

    Performer: Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Performer: Orchestra La Scintilla, Performer: Adam Fischer (conductor)

    • Decca 475 907 7.
    • 8.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Piano Septet No. 1 in D minor - 2nd and 3rd movements

    Performer: Ensemble Capricorn,

    • Helios CDH 55214.
    • 2.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Piano Concerto in A minor - 1st movement

    Performer: Stephen Hough (piano) Performer: English Chamber Orchestra Conductor: Bryden Thomson,

    • Chandos CHAN 8507.
    • 1.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Mathilde von Guise, Act III - Pezzo concertato and Finale

    Performer: Choir Alea, Performer: Solamente Naturali, Director: Didier Talpain,

    • Brilliant 94043.
    • 8.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Mathilde von Guise (overture)

    Performer: Solamente Naturali, Director: Didier Talpain,

    • Brilliant 94043.
    • 1.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Air a la Tirolienne avec variations, Op. 118

    Performer: Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Performer: Orchestra La Scintilla, Performer: Adam Fischer (conductor)

    • Decca 475 907 7.
    • 8.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Piano Septet No. 1 in D minor - 2nd and 3rd movements

    Performer: Ensemble Capricorn,

    • Helios CDH 55214.
    • 2.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Piano Concerto in A minor - 1st movement

    Performer: Stephen Hough (piano) Performer: English Chamber Orchestra Conductor: Bryden Thomson,

    • Chandos CHAN 8507.
    • 1.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Mathilde von Guise, Act III - Pezzo concertato and Finale

    Performer: Choir Alea, Performer: Solamente Naturali, Director: Didier Talpain,

    • Brilliant 94043.
    • 8.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.