From the start of his career, Spohr aspired to be something more than just a violinist who wrote concertos (such as Viotti, Kreutzer, Vieuxtemps or Wieniawski). So he expanded his compositional scope to include operas, oratorios, cantatas, Lieder, symphonies, chamber music and, especially in the first years of his marriage, works involving the harp. Gradually he became known as one of the leading composers of his day, particularly for his fine concertos, operatic overtures, oratorios and first two symphonies. He composed some 290 works in all. A complete list is to be found in New Grove II, the latest edition of the major dictionary of music, in the detailed entry written by a distinguished member of the Society, Professor Clive Brown of the University of Leeds.
Soon after settling in Kassel, the success of Spohr’s opera Jessonda (1823) and of
his oratorio Die letzten Dinge (1826; known in the English-
A few works have stayed with us. The enjoyable Octet and Nonet are often performed by groups who want to programme further items alongside the Beethoven Septet or the Schubert Octet; the violin concerto no. 8, op. 47 (the one “in the form of a vocal scena”, sometimes called by its German subtitle Gesangsszene) can still tempt virtuosi, as can the four fine clarinet concertos. Spohr’s Six German Songs for soprano, clarinet and piano continue to feature in recitals. The slow revival of the rest of his output, now under way, has already uncovered many delightful pieces, most of them available on CD.