Otto Nicolai

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Nicolai, Otto

 

(full name Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai). Born June 9, 1810, in Konigsberg; died May 11, 1849, in Berlin. German composer. Member of the Berlin Academy of Arts (1849).

Nicolai studied composition in Berlin under C. F. Zelter and B. Klein. From 1841 to 1847 he served as court choirmaster in Vienna, where he won recognition as a conductor and public music figure. He was one of the founders of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1842), which still exists. In 1848 he became conductor of the Royal Opera and director of the cathedral choir in Berlin.

Nicolai gained fame as a composer for his comic opera Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor, based on Shakespeare’s comedy, premiere 1849, Berlin), which is noted for its bold melodies, well-balanced drama, and joyful spontaneity. Although in the tradition of the Austrian singspiel (especially of Mozart), the opera shows the influence of the Italian opera buffa. Nicolai also wrote two symphonies, an overture, a cantata, instrumental ensembles, piano pieces, and choral works.

REFERENCES

Mendel, H. Otto Nicolai: Eine Biographic 2nd ed. Berlin, 1868.
Kruse, G. R. Otto Nicolai Berlin [1911].
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Formed by composer Carl Otto Nicolai in 1842, Vienna Philharmonic is considered one of the finest orchestras in the world.