Spohr won an enormous reputation during the nineteenth century as a composer, violin
virtuoso, conductor and teacher, as well as being renowned for his upright, noble
character. He was a man of convinced liberal and democratic beliefs who was not
afraid of speaking out against the repression and autocracy which abounded during
his lifetime in the small German principalities. His contemporaries saw his upright
character translated into physical terms as, unusually for his time, he was over
six feet in height.
Spohr leading a string ensemble at his home
Spohr was the antithesis of the lonely, tormented artist. He enjoyed a happy family
life; he loved parties, was a gifted painter, an enthusiastic rose-grower, a keen
swimmer, ice-skater and hiker, and he played chess, billiards, dominoes, whist and
ball games. As well as visiting cultural attractions such as art galleries and
churches, he toured factories, mines and other industrial installations, all in the
pursuit of knowledge. His interest in politics was keen, and during the short-lived
German national parliaments following the 1830 and 1848 revolutions he listened to
as many debates as possible.