Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg
Zumsteeg championed the operas of Mozart in Stuttgart, staging the first performances there of Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. He also was a prolific composer of lieder and ballads. His ballads had a great influence on the young Franz Schubert, who imitated a number of Zumsteeg's as studies (some even in exactly the same keys) while he was a teenager.
Life and times
Zumsteeg was born in Sachsenflur, Lauda-Königshofen, and received his early education at the Carlschule in Stuttgart. There Zumsteeg became intimate friends with Friedrich Schiller. A setting for Schiller's drama, Die Räuber, 1782, is an example of the type of close collaboration that Zumsteeg undertook with prominent poets.
Perhaps the most well-known of Zumsteeg's compositions are the seven volumes of Kleine Lieder und Balladen published by Breitkopf & Härtel between 1800 and 1805. These were highly popular in Germany, remaining well-known until the 1830s. According to Schubert's friend Josef von Spaun, Schubert discovered them while at seminary. "He had several of Zumsteeg's songs in front of him and told me that these songs moved him profoundly...He said he could revel in these songs for days on end. And to this youthful predilection of his we probably owe the direction Schubert took."
In 1783, Zumsteeg married Luise Andreae with whom he had seven children. His daughter Emilie Zumsteeg became a composer too.
During most of his career, Zumsteeg was closely connected to the Swabian court, and in 1791 he was appointed court director of music to fill the vacancy left by C. F. D. Schubart's death. In this capacity, Zumsteeg championed the works of German composers, countering the dominant Italian influence at the court. The last important post he held before his death in 1802 was that of court Konzertmeister. He died in Stuttgart, aged 42.
Zumsteeg's opera from Shakespeare's The Tempest, Die Geisterinsel, remained in the repertory for almost twenty years after its premiere in 1798 and has recently been recorded.
- De Silva, Preethi. The Fortepiano Writings of Streicher, Dieudonné, and the Schiedmayers: Two Manuals and a Notebook, p. 164 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008).
- recording Carus-Verlag 2010