To anyone interested in the history of the pianoforte and its intimate connection with the transition from High Classicism to full-blown Romanticism, the life of Ignaz Moscheles would seem to comprise an ideal span of years.1 He was born on May 23, 1794, in the Jewish quarter of Prague, when the city still lingered willingly under the aura of Mozart's visits in 1786 and 1787. The pianoforte was a flimsy, delicate contraption then, showing only faint hints of its future triumph over the harpsichord. Haydn had fifteen more years of life in the Austrian capital, and Europeans were just beginning to hear of the startling talents of his twenty-four-year-old pupil, Ludwig van Beethoven.
At the time of Moscheles's death on March 10, 1870, Berlioz had been dead for just over a year, Rossini a year-and-a-half. Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Schumann had come and gone, Liszt's career was declining, Brahms and Wagner were at their height, and Debussy was seven-and-a-half. The pianoforte, or piano, as it was called by then, had achieved a refinement of construction and a power of sound that to this day have remained virtually unsurpassed.
It would be one thing, of course, simply to have lived through this vast, rich expanse of musical history, and another to have participated in it as fully as did Moscheles. During his early years in Prague (1794-1808), he studied with Friedrich Dionys Weber, the founder of the Prague Conservatory in 1808. A strict disciplinarian, Weber put a halt to Moscheles's rampages through the circulating libraries, insisting upon a solid foundation in the music of Mozart, Clementi, and Bach, and "not a note as yet of Beethoven." For Weber, Bach's music could only culminate, rather than commence, Moscheles's three-year program of study. He told his young pupil that "Beethoven, clever as he is, writes a lot of hare-brained stuff, and leads pupils astray."
Weber's statement had been prompted by Moscheles's abortive attempt to learn the "Pathétique" Sonata, an undertaking that nevertheless confirmed the latter's reverence for Beethoven. It was his urgent desire to see and meet the great composer which drove Moscheles to Vienna in 1808, and to the tutelage of two of Beethoven's teachers, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri.
Fate, more than anything else, however, brought Moscheles and Beethoven together. The young student first saw his idol in the latter's concert on December 22, 1808, at the Theater an der Wien.2 They met in the shop of the music publisher, Domenico Artaria, in 1810,3 and by 1814 a recommendation from Artaria that Moscheles prepare the pianoforte reduction of Fidelio met with a positive response from the composer.4 A year earlier, Moscheles had played the cymbals in the premiere of Wellington's Victory, a performance that involved the foremost musicians of Vienna in some of the unlikeliest capacities. (Hummel directed the cannonade, and Meyerbeer played the bass drum.5)
Moscheles's growing reputation as a pianist and a composer, joined with political and religious factors to make his eight years in Vienna an extraordinarily rich experience. Aside from his important intercourse with Beethoven, vital friendships were forged in the city's leading social circles, which included the prominent Jewish families of haute finance, such as the Rothschilds, Lewingers, Arnsteins, and Eskeles. The financial expertise of these families gave them virtually unlimited privileges when compared with less educated Jews, who were only beginning to emerge from Europe's ghettos. Their Viennese homes served to underscore the unique status of these privileged Jews by providing a showcase for their "Jewishness" (often attractive to non-Jews in an age which counterposed assimilation and tokenism) and, at the same time, by emphasizing their emancipated lifestyle.6
It is interesting to note that Moscheles joined the Jewish congregation in Vienna and continued his association with that faith up to, and including, his marriage to Charlotte Embden in a Hamburg synagogue in 1825. When he took his bride to London immediately thereafter, however, Moscheles soon ceased his active participation in the Jewish faith, and all of his children were baptized as Christians.7 At the end of the first quarter-century, the process of emancipation had advanced much further in England than on the Continent, and assimilation, rather than a cultivated Jewishness, was frequently more desirable to the socially ambitious Jew.8
In the Vienna of 1808-1816, fashionable society, whether titled or not, Jew or non-Jew, moved among the great Jewish houses with self-conscious ease. It was here, in stylish private gatherings, that Moscheles first established his reputation among Vienna's elite, and their glowing letters of recommendation would launch him on his travels in 1816.
Moscheles's circle of admirers was expanded in a dazzling way by the presence in Vienna of Europe's highest nobility and leading statesmen for the Congress of 1815. The prime purpose of the assembly was the redrawing of European boundaries after the defeat of Napoleon. The various heads of state could not properly confer, however, until a suitable format for such a session had been agreed upon and all of the details worked out. Thus a bewildering succession of subcommittee meetings debated protocol from September 1814 until the Congress's one and only plenary assembly in June of the following year. In the meantime, the city was a paradise for young musicians in search of an influential audience. Moscheles found himself caught up in the glittering swirl of banquets, concerts, operas, and balls which amply justified the Belgian Prince de Ligne's later statement: "It is a royal rout; the Congress does not march--it dances."9
An example of Moscheles's involvement in some of the more lavish events is provided by the diary of Carl Bertuch of Weimar, representing the rights of printers and publishers at the Congress with regard to the proposed German Federation. He writes of a private concert which he attended at the Arnsteins' on the evening of October 25, 1814. Among the works heard was Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio, performed on the pianoforte by Moscheles.10 His appearance takes on a special significance when one considers that he was a Jew performing in a prominent Jewish house for a largely non-Jewish audience, many of whose members would hold the fate of European Jewry in their hands at subsequent protocol meetings of the Congress.
From an artistic point of view, Vienna was of crucial important to Moscheles's career for the great number of outstanding musical friendships he was able to form. Aside from Beethoven, Hummel, Meyerbeer, and Spohr deserve mention here, as do the lesser known, but gifted artists of the age, the violinist Mayseder and the guitarist Giuliani. Moscheles's friendship with Spohr proved especially cordial and, in the years to come, would occasionally play an important role in the former's association with the Philharmonic Society of London. His tutelage under Salieri led to a three-year position (1811-1813) as Kapellmeister-Adjunct of the Court Theater, whereby he gained valuable experience as a conductor and intensified his predilection for the lyrical element in his compositional technique.11
As implied above, however, Moscheles's years in Vienna were much more important for his emergence as a mature performer than as a composer. Nevertheless his Variations on a March of Czar Alexander, Op. 32, a work in F major for bravura pianist and orchestral accompaniment, was enormously important in helping to bring his name before the public. Hastily written for an Ash Wednesday charity concert in 1815, the variations were later disdained by Moscheles, but, in their conformity to the biedermeierisch taste of the times, they found an enthusiastic audience among the Viennese. The work is valuable, in any case, as a concise compendium of Moscheles's keyboard vocabulary at that point in time.
From 1816 to 1821, Moscheles was heard in many of the great cities and small towns of Europe. Prague and Pest were followed by Karlsbad in 1816, where six-year-old Robert Schumann attended one of his concerts. The boy's mother had brought him some forty-five miles from Zwickau to hear his first great pianist, and Robert would carefully preserve the concert program for the next twenty years.12
The years 1817-1819 carried Moscheles westward via Leipzig and Dresden to Munich, Augsburg, Amsterdam, The Hague, and Brussels. Of his works originating in this period, the most enduring was the Concerto in G minor for Pianoforte and Orchestra, Op. 60. He completed it on August 4, 1817, in Amsterdam. Moscheles's own regard for the work would be demonstrated as late as 1861, when he would select it for his final appearance with the Philharmonic Society of London.
On December 29, 1820, Moscheles reached Paris. Owing to his distinguished recommendations from Vienna, he was quickly welcomed into the city's splendid aristocratic and artistic circles. Names like Rothschild, Fould, the Duchess of Orleans, and Lafite appear in his diary, along with musicians and composers such as Reicha, Kreutzer, Cherubini, Spohr, Auber, Herold, Adam, and Viotti, as well as the publishers Schlesinger, Boieldieu, and Lemoine, and the pianoforte manufacturers Pape, Petzold, Erard, and Freudenthaler. His almost five months in the French capital passed quickly amidst a dizzying array of public and private concert engagements, as well as dinners, balls, theatricals, and a busy schedule of lessons. Practice and composition were of necessity relegated to the late night hours or early morning.
With his career enjoying spectacular successes, Moscheles departed on May 24, 1821, for the only city whose appetite for artistic novelty seemed more ravenous than that of Paris, namely London. He could only have guessed that the capital that now welcomed him so warmly would remain his home for the next twenty-five years.
Moscheles's first musical acquaintances in London were, like himself, foreigners. Among them were the pianists and composers J. B. Cramer, Ferdinand Ries, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, and F. T. Latour, as well as the superb harpist François Dizi. With its unquenchable thirst for foreign talent, London in 1821 was brimming with composers and performers from abroad. Christoph Gottfried Kiesewetter, the great violinist, was there, as was the legendary double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti. Muzio Clementi was operating a thriving pianoforte factory with the Collard brothers, and the Italian Opera Company was playing to full houses in the Haymarket.
His bravura style, owing much to the Italian vocal tradition which Londoners loved, quickly won Moscheles an enthusiastic following. His debut at the season's final Philharmonic Society concert on June 11 and his own concert on July 4 were no less than triumphant.
In the years to come, prior to his departure for Leipzig in 1846, almost every aspect of Moscheles's career would pass through a climactic phase. His finest works date from this period and include all of his remaining piano concertos (nos. 4-8), a symphony (in C major, Op. 81), a septet for strings, clarinet, and horn (in D major, Op. 88), a piano trio (in C minor, Op. 84), and the two sets of pianoforte studies, Opp. 70 and 95, as well as numerous other shorter compositions for that instrument.
The London years also witnessed a culmination in the development of Moscheles's keyboard technique and improvisational skills. With the approach of the 1840s, he himself realized that he was being outstripped by the younger titans of the pianoforte. In 1838 he wrote:
I play all the new works of the four modern heroes, Thalberg, Chopin, Henselt, and Liszt, and find that their chief effects lie in passages requiring a large grasp and stretch of finger, such as the peculiar build of their hands enables them to execute; I grasp less, but then I am not of a grasping school. With all my admiration for Beethoven I cannot forget Mozart, Cramer, and Hummel. Have they not written much that is noble, with which I have been familiar from early years? Just now the new manner finds more favor, and I endeavor to pursue the middle course between the two schools, by never shrinking from any difficulty, never despising the new effects, and withal retaining the best elements of the old traditions....
From about 1840 onward, Moscheles performed in public with decreasing frequency. His reputation suffered somewhat in the process, since the interpretation of some of his works now fell to less-qualified pianists, and others of his compositions virtually disappeared from the concert repertoire.
At this same time, however, he introduced a startling innovation in concert programming by inaugurating a series of "Classical Pianoforte Soirées." Begun in 1837, these were the first concerts in history to present the pianoforte and its predecessors without the aid of an orchestra or chamber ensemble. London had never experienced a true pianoforte recital, so Moscheles was careful "to interweave a little vocal music" as a precaution against possible monotony. The first program, on February 18, 1837, was typical of those that ensued, and included Weber's Grande Sonate brillante in C major, Op. 24, three preludes and fugues (C-sharp major, C-sharp minor, and D major) by Bach, Beethoven's Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, a selection from the Suites of Lessons of Domenico Scarlatti (performed on the harpsichord), Moscheles's Variations on a Theme of Händel ("The Harmonious Blacksmith") in F major, Op. 29, the "Les Adieux" Sonata, Op. 81a, of Beethoven, and a selection from Moscheles's manuscript studies, Op. 95.13
Far from wearying their audiences, these programs were enormously popular, prompting The Atlas to say that "nothing seems wanting to the entire perfection of this kind of entertainment but to discard the singing."14
To a certain extent, Moscheles's pioneering efforts were echoed in that same month of February by Clara Wieck's Berlin recitals of piano music and works for voice with piano accompaniment,15 but they lacked the former's zest for musicological research. The vocal music of Händel and his contemporaries had long been familiar to English audiences by means of the yearly Ancient Concerts, but Moscheles was clearly breaking new ground in bringing the keyboard works of these composers before the public. His interest in the musicological aspects of performance are further indicated by his founding, with eleven others, of the Handel Society of England in 1843.16 Its primary goal was the production of a scholarly, but reasonably priced, edition of Händel's complete works. Noteworthy too is Moscheles's own edition of the complete works of Beethoven, begun in 1834 and finished a few years later. The Atlas praised "the name of Mr. Moscheles" as "a sufficient security against errors of the engraver."17
A part of Moscheles's success in these pianoforte programs was undoubtedly due to the dramatic advances made in the construction of the instrument during his London years. Its increased sonorities and more responsive action allowed the pianoforte to stand on its own, and to provide a more striking contrast with the brittle, often plaintive sound of the harpsichord. Moscheles counted among his friends the foremost pianoforte manufacturers in England, including Muzio Clementi, the Collard brothers, Thomas Broadwood, and Pierre Érard. Throughout his long tenure in London, Moscheles was frequently called upon to test, and comment upon, new enhancements of the piano's action, stringing arrangement, and frame construction. Thus in 1825, for example, he was the first to try Sebastien Érard's double escapement action on an instrument in nephew Pierre's London factory. Moscheles was impressed with the responsiveness of the mechanism, and it hardly seems coincidental that his works of the years immediately ensuing make increasing use of repeated notes. (See Op. 70, Nos. 19 and 22.)
Moscheles enjoyed lifelong success as an exacting, yet patient, teacher, claiming such students as Sigismond Thalberg and Henry Litolff in his circle. It was in London, however, that he made his most careful attempt to consolidate his methodology. The result of these efforts was the Méthode des Méthodes des Pianistes, a keyboard school jointly authored with François-Joseph Fétis and published in 1837.18 The work, which took eight years of collaboration to produce, attempted to synthesize and elaborate upon the best elements of previous "schools." Perhaps because it did not blaze any dramatically new pedagogical trails, the Méthode was not a great success, but most of the leading keyboard virtuosi of the day contributed studies to it, including Chopin, who composed his Trois nouvelles Études expressly for the work.
The years 1821-1846 also saw Moscheles's greatest attainments in the role of conductor. With few exceptions, his assumption of this role was within the context of a Philharmonic concert in London. During his first ten years in the British capital, he was relentlessly critical of the conductor's subordination to the concertmaster, or leader. When he eventually took up the baton at a Philharmonic concert in 1832, he was able to draw upon his early years (1811-1813) as Kapellmeister-Adjunct of the Court Theater in Vienna, as well as a wealth of experience in observing the more commanding role assumed by Continental conductors. He is credited with conducting the first successful performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in England on April 17, 1837. So great was his prowess in guiding the orchestra that The Times of May 4, 1841, urged his appointment as the permanent conductor of the Philharmonic concerts.19 Perhaps because of pride, jealousy, and infighting, the Directors ignored the suggestion, turning to Moscheles by default in 1845.
The preceding should not be allowed to give the impression that Moscheles remained a virtual captive of England's shores for twenty-five years. The second half of each year was frequently spent in travels and tours to the Continent. On these journeys Moscheles formed friendships and associations with a legion of renowned musical figures, including Mendelssohn, Clara Wieck, and Carl Maria von Weber in 1824, Schumann in 1835, Berlioz and Chopin (with whom Moscheles concertized) in 1839, and Jenny Lind and Richard Wagner in 1845. Moscheles's home at 77 Norton Street (near Fitzroy Square) and, after the autumn of 1830, 3 Chester Place (Regent's Park), became the meeting ground for many of these and other distinguished Continental artists during their visits to London. Liszt, Joachim, Sir Walter Scott, and Heinrich Heine were among those who also enjoyed the hospitality of the Moscheles family.
By far the most fruitful and profound of Moscheles's musical friendships was that with Felix Mendelssohn. Moscheles's diaries and a rich published correspondence between the two men detail their mutual admiration and respect. Mendelssohn visited Moscheles countless times in London and conducted the first rehearsal of his oratorio Elijah in the second-floor front room of the Chester Place residence (which survives today in excellent condition).
The two men frequently concertized together, including a performance (with Thalberg) of Bach's Triple Concerto in D minor in Moscheles's concert of June 1, 1844, and (with Döhler) in Ernst's concert of July 5 the same year.20 Eleven years earlier, they had collaborated in the composition of a duo concertant for two pianos with orchestral accompaniment, on a march from Weber's melodrama Preciosa (Op. 87b in Moscheles's thematic catalog21). The introduction and first two variations were composed by Mendelssohn; the third and fourth variations (with a connecting tutti), by Moscheles. The finale was a joint effort. Get-togethers at Chester Place usually involved improvisation, either separately or simultaneously. This latter mode of extemporizing strikes one today as a sure recipe for cacophony, but Charlotte Moscheles wrote that the highly refined musical intellects of the two men always guaranteed a harmonious result.
At the outset of the 1840s, however, Moscheles sensed that his powers as a composer and performer were slowly beginning to wane. In 1846, therefore, he accepted a long-standing invitation from Mendelssohn to head the piano department of the newly founded Leipzig Conservatory. With his departure from England, the most successful chapter in Moscheles's multifaceted career came to a close. The Athenæum hailed him as the country's "greatest resident musical artist,"22 while The Times,23 The Atlas,24 and The Morning Post25 declared him to be the undisputed father of the modern keyboard school. Of these journals, The Atlas provides the most succinct summary of Moscheles's contributions during his twenty-five years in England:
Not only as an executant is he distinguished--in this department he has been surpassed, though voluntarily, we are convinced;--as a composer he has achieved a position quite beyond the reach of any merely [sic] finger-mechanist. But the great phase in his history while among us--that, indeed, on which he may ever reflect with just pride--rests on the fact that he has never desecrated his calling as an artist. In the manifold avocations of public performer, composer, teacher, orchestra-director, he has ever been, with his utmost zeal, the conscientious musican; and, thus dignified, he will leave with us a reputation which many men of more ostentatious pretension might well envy.
Leipzig received Moscheles warmly, with Mendelssohn playfully having threatened to have some of the city's houses painted a rose color in welcome. As "Director of Pianoforte Study and Instruction in Performance and Piano Composition," Moscheles joined ranks with such distinguished men as Niels Gade, Ferdinand David, Moritz Hauptmann, Louis Plaidy, and of course Mendelssohn himself. The death of this eminent composer and cherished friend on November 4, 1847, severely shook the resolve of Moscheles and his wife to remain in Leipzig. In spite of the vitality and quality of musical life there, it could not rival the sophistication of London. Twenty-five years in the English capital, moreover, had partially anglicized the family, and the decision to move to Leipzig had been long deliberated. Moscheles soon decided, however, that his continuing efforts at the Conservatory would form the best tribute to his beloved confrère. He remained on the faculty virtually until his final illness and death on March 10, 1870. To this day the Conservatory stands on a street bearing his name, Moschelesstrasse.
Although he largely abided by his resolution not to perform in public, Moscheles filled the years 1847-1870 with a variety of musical experiences and travels that in many ways rivalled the London period. In 1849, he was invited by Paul Mendelssohn, the composer's brother, to collaborate with Hauptmann, David, and Rietz on an edition of Felix's collected works. A year later he was one of the seven founders of the Bach Gesellschaft, which set as its first project the publication of the B minor Mass. Because he wanted to make this work accessible to performing groups of modest means, he proposed that the score include a piano reduction. The suggestion was rejected in 1852, and Moscheles resigned the next year, when the Society gave the editorship of the keyboard music to C. F. Becker.
In 1854 or 1855 Moscheles composed cadenzas to the pianoforte concertos of Beethoven, and in 1858 he edited Clementi's sonatas and the Gradus ad Parnassum for Hallberger of Stuttgart. During this period the same publisher also brought out Moscheles's editions of the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
The Leipzig years continued the intercourse with famed musical figures which had so markedly characterized Moscheles's career to that time. In 1851 he attended a performance of Lohengrin in Weimar, under Liszt's direction. He had met Wagner in 1845 in Dresden, and the latter's article, "Judaism in Music," published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in 1850, certainly had not endeared the younger man to Moscheles. He nevertheless continued to avail himself of the opportunities to hear Wagner's music, attending performances of Der fliegende Holländer at the Gewandhaus in 1855, the overture to Faust the same year, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Dresden in 1867. None of these performances, incidentally, was under the composer's direction. Moscheles found the lengthy, recitative-like vocal parts too abstract and disconnected, preferring instead the rhythmic and structural clarity of the classical aria and its alternation with shorter recitatives. To Moscheles, the avid proponent of bel canto, the orchestra tended to overwhelm the singers, a relationship which he found "peculiar."
A more cordial relationship was formed with Berlioz, whom Moscheles saw conduct his Faust and Romeo and Juliet in Weimar in November of 1852. While he responded favorably to these works, he was lukewarm to a performance soon thereafter of Benvenuto Cellini, which Liszt conducted, and he found the "Witches' Sabbath" of the Symphonie fantastique incomprehensible in an 1853 program. Moscheles regarded Berlioz, however, as a most interesting individual and "a great thinker."
In 1853 Moscheles received Liszt at the Conservatory, where the latter conducted master classes but disappointed everyone by refusing to play. Six years later, as part of the festival honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Neue Zeitschrift, Liszt persuaded Moscheles to join him in a performance of the Hommage à Handel, Op. 92, which Moscheles had composed during his first years in England. In 1859, Liszt invited him to Weimar, playing privately for him there. Soon thereafter, Liszt again found himself a guest at the Moscheles' Leipzig residence.
A trip to Italy during the summer of 1853 enabled Moscheles to hear a pianoforte version of Verdi's overture to Nabucco, and a full performance in Milan of Luisa Miller, which he found full of "hackneyed ideas" and "screaming noise," with only a few isolated good ideas "to keep me awake." There is no indication that Moscheles and Verdi actually met on this or any other occasion.
Sometime after his return to Leipzig in the fall of this same year, Moscheles heard Brahms play, praising his technical powers and sight reading abilities, but remarking on the occasionally labored quality of his music. The diaries, as edited, make no further mention of Brahms, but Max Kalbeck refers to Moscheles and Brahms as old friends when he describes a Rhenish music festival both attended in the latter part of the decade.
There were frequent opportunities to enjoy the company and talents of Brahms's revered mentor, Robert Schumann, and his wife Clara. Moscheles heard them both at the Gewandhaus concerts of 1848, as well as privately in 1849. It was on this occasion that Moscheles bemoaned Schumann's "extreme reticence" in a social situation. "Try as I will," he wrote, "I cannot inveigle him into a conversation upon art." He heard a performance of Schumann's Symphony in C major, Op. 61, in 1849, and the first production of Genoveva in 1850. In the latter work he noted "a want of intelligible, flowing rhythmical melody," a weakness which he found himself unable to conceal, although he was "one of Schumann's worshippers."
During the years 1854-1855, Moscheles enjoyed visits by Anton Rubinstein and the fine English pianist, Arabella Goddard. In 1858 Max Bruch was a guest at Moscheles's home, bringing a variety of his compositions and eliciting a favorable response from Moscheles. That same year, Arthur Sullivan arrived from England, having recently won the Mendelssohn Scholarship in London. Moscheles became well acquainted with him and called him "a lad of great promise" who would "do credit to England."
While staying in Paris during the summer of 1860, Moscheles paid a memorable visit to Rossini in his villa at Passy. Rossini's conversation "was full of hard hitting truths, and brilliant satire on the present study and method of vocalization." He declared that "whatever I am is due to the old school, the old master Clementi," and treated Moscheles to his own rendition of excerpts from Clementi's keyboard sonatas. Of the three masters, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, he preferred the music of Beethoven twice a week, Haydn four times, and Mozart all seven days. This initial visit was followed by a number of additional ones before the summer was out.
Moscheles's son Felix had established himself as a respected portrait painter in Paris and had not only arranged the meeting with Rossini, but with Charles Gounod and the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini, both of whose portraits Felix had painted. Moscheles hailed Gounod as "a real composer" of refined, piquant music, while finding Mazzini surprisingly unassuming and inoffensive, and "keenly interested in the subject of music."
In 1859 the Philharmonic Society of London made Moscheles an Honorary Member, an action which in part may have influenced his decision to appear in the last concert of the 1861 season. He made a final trip to London in 1866, attending the Händel Festival, which Sir Michael Costa directed at the Crystal Palace.
Throughout this final period of his life, Moscheles maintained a clear perception of his own niche in music history, as well as the general course that keyboard music seemed to be following. Toward the end of 1860 he observed:
I should write music on a larger scale for my instrument, were it not that I am convinced that people now-a-days will not care to play such compositions. Only Beethoven's, Mendelssohn's, Schumann's, and Chopin's Concertos are now the fashion; Mozart and Hummel are completely ignored. Of my eight Concertos, that in G minor is becoming every day a greater rarity as an item in programs. I flatter myself that my "Characteristic Studies" [Opp. 70 and 95], my "Grande Valse" [Op. 118], and some of my other compositions might hold their own as Bravura pieces, that my "Nursery Tale" [Op. 95, No. 5] and my Study in A flat [Op. 70, No. 9, or Op. 95, No. 9] could sing in competition with the modern Notturnos; but not one of my colleagues plays them in public.
A couple of years later Moscheles remarked:
I know many think me old-fashioned, but the more I consider the tendency of modern taste, and the abrupt and glaring contrasts indulged in by many composers of the present day, the more strenuously will I uphold that which I know to be sound art, and side with those who can appreciate a Haydn's playfulness, a Mozart's Cantilena, and a Beethoven's surpassing grandeur.
When Moscheles died on March 10, 1870, the Neue Zeitschrift duly noted his passing with praiseworthy remarks on a musical life well spent.27 In London, where his career had attained its zenith, the event went unnoticed by the papers, mute testimony to the extent to which England had been distracted by the tidal wave of younger keyboard virtuosos. During his English years, Moscheles had made some of his greatest contributions as a performer, composer, teacher, conductor, and thinker about music. Janus-like, he looked back reverently to the Classical era, and open-mindedly forward through Romanticism to the first glimmerings of twentieth-century style. He could only hope that his views would survive into the future, a wish that is captured in the brief preface to his diaries:
My chief objection to the innovators is that they aspire to go beyond Beethoven, and altogether dethrone Mozart and Haydn, hitherto the acknowledged keystones to the foundation of music; of course, we lesser lights are to be buried under the ruins of the tottering temples, and I for my part consider myself honored by such sepulture; who knows if we shall not some day or other be dug up like Herculaneum and Pompeii? Ignaz Moscheles, Leipzig, 1857