Ferdinand Ries

Ferdinand Ries

Ferdinand Ries (Bonn, baptised November 28 1784 – January 13 1838), from a musical family of Bonn, [ Ferdinand’s grandfather, Johann Ries (1723–1784), was appointed court trumpeter to the Elector of Cologne at Bonn] was a friend and pupil of Beethoven who published in 1838 a collection of reminiscences of his teacher, co-written with Franz Wegeler. He was also a composer who left eight symphonies, a violin concerto and nine piano concertos, and numerous other works in many genres, including 26 string quartets. Of these the symphonies, some chamber works — most of them with piano — and his piano concertos have been recorded, demonstrating a style which is not surprisingly somewhere between that of the Classic and early Romantic eras.

The French dissolved the Electoral court of Bonn and disbanded its orchestra, but in the early months of 1803 the penniless Ries managed to reach Vienna, with a letter of introduction to Beethoven, who had received some early instruction at Bonn from Ries' father, Franz Anton. Beethoven took great care of the young man, teaching him piano, sending him to Albrechtsberger for harmony and composition and securing for him positions as piano tutor in aristocratic households in Baden and Silesia. Ries made his public debut as a pianist in July 1804, playing Beethoven's C minor concerto, Op. 37, with his own cadenza, to glowing reviews.

Ries worked for Beethoven as secretary and copyist, winning Beethoven's confidence in negotiations with publishers and becoming a fast friend. But he feared conscription in the French occupying army, though he was blind in one eye and fled Vienna (September 1805), then spent two years in Paris before returning to Vienna, then concertized his way about Europe, landing in London in 1813. There he spent the next eleven years. Johann Peter Salomon, the great friend and patron of Haydn— who had formerly played with Franz Anton Ries in the court orchestra at Bonn—included Ries regularly in his Philharmonic concert series, [Ries debuted 14 March 1814.] where a review praised his "romantic wildness".

During these London years he never lost touch with Beethoven and had a role in the London publications of many works of Beethoven after the peace of 1815, including the 1822 commission from the Philharmonic Society that resulted in the Choral Symphony.

in 1824 Ries retired to Germany with his English wife, Harriet Mangeon, but returned to musical life in Frankfurt am Main as composer and conductor. In 1834 he was appointed head of the city orchestra and "Singakademie" in Aachen, for whom he wrote two oratorios, "Der Sieg des Glaubens" (1829) and "Die Könige in Israel" (1837), the latter of which has been recorded.

Cecil Hill wrote a scholarly thematic catalog, listed below, of this composer's works: for each work he provided incipits (opening themes) for each movement, dedications, known early reviews, and known dates of composition.

While one of the few widely-circulated recordings of Ries' music was for some time that of his third piano concerto, all of his symphonies and a number of chamber works are now available on compact disc and his surviving music for piano and orchestra and chamber works are the focus of ongoing projects on various record labels as well.

elected List of Works


*No. 1 in D, op. 23 (1809)
*No. 2 in C minor, op. 80 (1814)
*No. 3 in E-flat, op. 90 (1816)
*No. 4 in F, op. 110 (1818)
*No. 5 in D minor, op. 112 (1813)
*No. 6 in D, op. 146 (1822)
*an unpublished symphony in E-flat, WoO 30 (1822) [Hill (1982): xxviii asserts this work was written before op. 146]
*No. 7 in A minor, op. 181 (1835)


*"Der Sieg des Glaubens" (1829)
*"Die Könige in Israel" (1837)

Chamber Music

*Octet in F major, op. 12 (1808)
*Piano Quartet in F minor, op. 13 (1809)
*Cello Sonata in A major, op. 21
*Clarinet Trio in B flat, op. 28 (1809)
*Clarinet Sonata in G minor, op. 29 (1808)
*Grand Septuor in E flat for piano, clarinet, 2 horns, violin, cello and double bass, op. 25 (1812)
*3 String Quartets, op. 70 (1812, rewritten 1815)
*Cello Sonata in G minor, op. 125
*Grand Otetto in A flat for piano, violin, viola, clarinet, horn, bassoon, cello and double bass, op. 128 (1816, pub. 1831)
*Flute Quartets Nos. 1-3, op. 145

Piano Music

*Piano Sonata in C major, op. 1 no. 1 (1806)
*Piano Sonata in A minor, op. 1 no. 2 (1803-4)
*2 Piano Sonatinas, op. 5
*Grande Sonate in D major, op. 9 no. 1
*Grande Sonata Fantaisie in F sharp minor, 'L'Infortune' op. 26



*Hill, Cecil. "Ferdinand Ries: A Thematic Catalogue". Armidale, NSW: University of New England. 1977. ISBN 0-85834-156-5.
* Cecil Hill, "Ferdinand Ries" in "The Symphony: Ferdinand Ries" London: Garland Publishing (1982)
*Ries, Ferdinand. "Beethoven Remembered: The Biographical Notes of Franz Wegeler and Ferdinand Ries" (translated from the German.) Arlington, VA: Great Ocean Publishers. 1987. ISBN 0-915556-15-4.
*Zanden, Jos van der. 'Ferdinand Ries in Vienna. New Perspectives on the Notizen', in: The Beethoven Journal, 2004.

External links

* [http://www.classical-composers.org/cgi-bin/ccd.cgi?comp=ries Brief biography]
* [http://www.naxos.com/mainsite/default.asp?pn=Composers&char=R&ComposerID=863 Dianne James, "Ferdinand Ries"] Biography from Naxos site

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