Happy 253rd Birthday, Bernhard Romberg (1767-1841)

Daniel Kneer

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The following is a guest post by one of our current interns, Daniel Kneer: 

Bernhard Heinrich Romberg was a German cellist and composer. He was born into a musical family on 12 November 1767 in the northern German town of Dinklage.

Romberg received his first cello lessons from his father and from the cellist Johann Konrad Schlick in Münster. His early musical career is hard to separate from that of his cousin Andreas, who was just a few months older than him. They traveled together throughout Europe on concert tours. These also took them to Austria, where Romberg met Joseph Haydn and dedicated his Quartet op. 1 (RISM ID no. 1001067228) to him.

After a joint engagement at the Münster court, they moved to the court in Bonn in 1790. There, they met famous musicians such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Anton Ries, and the four of them performed as a quartet. Bernhard Romberg also received lessons in composition from Christian Gottlob Neefe.

Following a further concert tour, he remained in Paris in 1799 (without his cousin) and taught at the conservatory until 1802. After that, he joined the Royal Orchestra in Berlin and partnered with the cellist Jean-Louis Duport. After the unexpected death of Queen Luise of Prussia, he composed the Trauersymphonie op. 23 in her honor. The autograph manuscript for this piece is preserved in the Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig (RISM ID no. 225007530).

In 1820, Romberg moved to Hamburg, where he lived until his death on 13 August 1841. He made a name for himself there as an instrument teacher. In 1840 he published his first cello method, which detailed his virtuosic playing technique. His book is still used to this day in cello lessons. 

The RISM catalog contains 421 entries for Romberg

Image: Bernhard Romberg, engraving from Angelo Gentili after a drawing by Franz Krüger, from Wikimedia Commons (public domain).



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