Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Travel means know more and better, not only what you meet for the first time in a new place, but those kinds of things and persons you leave behind. This reflexion goes with the idea of those artists in general and musicians in particular that made a long journey to thrive and meet themselves better and in too many cases their own inspiration.
However, it is not unique for the artists indeed. London is a place plenty of travelers, people around the world arrive to one of the crowdest cities. And in many cases, as soon as they come, starts packing the suitcase looking for another place. This circumstance has been taking place for a long time, centuries ago until the present day.
A lot of musicians along the history have been living here in London, where I am now writing these lines. A lot of artists, a lot of inspiration, comes and goes, like the wind in autumn. Never stops, always is moving from some place to another. And this is not exclusive of this time. Last century happened and still today.
Precisely in the beginning of XIX century, the outburst of pianists that arrives in London and tried to reach renown, were so huge. We can mention some of them like Muzio Clementi, Johann Baptist Cramer, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and Ignaz Moscheles. Maybe those names are not so familiar to the typical audience, but undoubtedly those composers exerted great influence and control in the music life of the first decades of the XIX century.
I would like to focus our attention in the last mentioned, the bohemian composer Ignaz Moscheles. He settled in London for the first time in 1821, after a long tour that carried him to several cities like Leipzig, Dresden, Munich, Augsburg, Amsterdam, The Hague, Brussels among others. The warm welcome to London cames before Paris, where he had the chance to met an introduce to a lot of aristocratic and artistic circles.
After that, London would remain his home for twenty-five years long.
Regarding we have said at the beginning, the first acquaintances he met were foreigners, like him, more than British paradoxically. We could mention his countryman Cramer, Kalkbrenner, Ries (the pupil of Beethoven), Latour or Clementi. These years were very inspiring and a successful period for our composer regarding his output and the work he developed as a musician. Some of the greatest works he composed were the last four piano concertos (number 4 to 8); the Grand Symphony in C Major, op. 81; Septet for strings, clarinet, and horn, op. 88; a piano trio in c minor (apparently under the influence of Beethoven's chamber music) and their more well-known sets of studies for piano op.70 and op. 95.
He developed during his period settled in London (1821 to 1846) several facets, not only as a performer and excellent pianist but also as a teacher. Besides his two collections of studies for piano, he wrote in collaboration with François-Joseph Fétis another pedagogical work that offers ways and technical paths to sort common challenges in the piano writing and performance. It was titled Méthode des Méthodes des Pianistes, published in 1837 after eight years of collaboration and researches. This work attempts to recover some of the most representatives contributions from an exhaustive number of different kind of approaches to piano's technique until the date, belonging to different pianists and methods written before. It is not an innovative work, in a strict sense of the word. However, although this work finally didn't receive too much attention, some of the most prominent composers spent his time composing several pianos works for this piano method, standing out the polish composer Friedrich Chopin, who wrote his Trois Nouvelles Études for piano expressly for this pedagogical work.
In the end, his labor as a musician doesn't finish as a performer or as a teacher. He developed a great success as a conductor. He conducted in England the first performance of the Ninth Symphony by his admired Beethoven in 1837. Moscheles must have a great temperament, a refined education and behave because the significant number of acquaintances and friends he had a great relationship in different kind of orders. He wrote a lot of works that at least, recently, start to be discovered, little by little. We could know more from him and his life than other composers (maybe more than another more currently well-known and played) because of his diary entries. However, surprisingly, even today, his work is still unknown.
Also, his son Felix Moscheles wrote a charming book titled Letters of Felix Mendelssohn to Ignaz and Charlotte Moscheles. Finally, his wife, Charlotte Mocheles wrote Life of Moscheles: with selections from his diaries and correspondence. These books have a great value to the nowadays reader because were written during the life of the composer.
Unquestionably, London in Moscheles is not a brief chapter in his life. The relation between Moscheles and London have great importance in the musical life of the city and the work of the men as a composer.