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Johann Peter Salomon
Opera and lyrical music
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- Romance for violin and string orchestra in D major (1795?)
Johann Peter Salomon was born in Bonn and was the second son of Philipp Salomon, an oboist at the court in Bonn. His birth home was at Bonngasse 515, coincidentally the later birth home of Beethoven. At the age of thirteen, he became a violinist in the court orchestra and six years later became the concert master of the orchestra of Prince Heinrich of Prussia. He composed several works for the court, including four operas and an oratorio. He moved to London in the early 1780s, where he worked as a composer and played violin both as a celebrated soloist and in a string quartet. He made his first public appearance at Covent Garden on 23 March 1781.
While in England, Salomon composed two operas for the Royal Opera, several art songs, a number of concertos, and chamber music pieces. He is perhaps best known today, however, as a concert organiser and conductor.
Salomon brought Joseph Haydn to London in 1791-92 and 1794-95, and together with Haydn led the first performances of many of the works that Haydn composed while in England. Haydn wrote his symphonies numbers 93 to 104 for these trips, which are sometimes known as the Salomon symphonies (they are more widely known as the London symphonies). Haydn’s esteem for his impresario and orchestral leader can sometimes be seen in the symphonies (for example, the cadenza in the slow movement of the 96th, the phrase marked Salomon solo ma piano in the trio of the 97th, and the florid violin part of the second movement of the 103rd); the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat was composed for Salomon, who played the solo violin part; and the six string quartets opp. 71 and 74, written between the two London visits in 1793, though dedicated to Count Apponyi, were clearly designed for the public performances that Salomon’s quartet gave in London. Salomon is also said to have had a hand in providing Haydn with the original model for the text of The Creation. He was one of the founder-members of the Philharmonic Society and led the orchestra at its first concert on 8 March 1813.
Salomon died in London in 1815, of injuries suffered when he was thrown from his horse. He is buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.