Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg

Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg

German composer and conductor
Date of Birth: 10.01.1760
Country: Germany

Biography of Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg

Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg was a German composer and conductor born on January 10, 1760, in Lauda-Königshofen, a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. He was the son of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. At the age of ten, Zumsteeg enrolled in the newly established Hohe Karlsschule, also known as the Karlsschule, a school founded by the Duke where boys from the noble families of Württemberg were educated in military affairs and the arts. Initially, Zumsteeg intended to study sculpture but soon discovered his exceptional musical talent, leading him to pursue a musical education. He studied composition under Johann Friedrich Seubert and the renowned cellist Eberhard Malterre, as well as being taught by the court conductor of Stuttgart, Agostino Poli.

During his time at the Karlsschule, Zumsteeg met the young poet Friedrich Schiller and formed a friendship with him. This friendship would later result in Zumsteeg setting many of Schiller's poems to music. Their collaboration was exemplified by the staging of Schiller's play "Die Räuber" in 1782.

In 1781, Zumsteeg left the Karlsschule and secured a position as a cellist in the court orchestra. Four years later, he became a teacher at the Karlsschule. In 1791, Zumsteeg was appointed as the musical director of the court theater, which also involved overseeing the teaching of pantomime at the school. His influential position allowed him to promote the works of German composers at a time when Italian musicians dominated the music scene, even in German courts. In 1792, Zumsteeg was named concertmaster and succeeded Agostino Poli as the court conductor.

Unfortunately, Zumsteeg's promising career was cut short when he died on January 27, 1802, at the age of 42, from a stroke. One of his most notable works is the seven-volume collection of songs and ballads titled "Kleine Lieder und Balladen," published by Breitkopf & Härtel from 1800 to 1805. These songs remained immensely popular in Germany until the 1830s and had a significant impact on the young Franz Schubert, who was captivated by them during his studies at the seminary.

Zumsteeg married Luise Andreae in 1783, and they had seven children together. One of their children, Emilie Zumsteeg, became a well-known composer, songwriter, pianist, and choral conductor in Stuttgart. Zumsteeg's opera "Die Geisterinsel," based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest," remained in the theater repertoire for almost twenty years after its premiere in 1798. In 2010, it was recorded by the Stuttgart ensemble "Kammerchor & Hofkapelle Stuttgart" under the direction of conductor Frieder Bernius, with the initiative of the music publisher Carus-Verlag.