Friedrich Seitz is a composer who one does not give much thought to. In fact, most people don’t even know he existed. However, Mr. Seitz has most certainly made an impact on the beginning violinist’s repertoire. He wrote 8 student violin and orchestra concertos, some of which have
made their way into the Suzuki Method routine. His student concertos not only express beautiful melodies, but also have a “greatness” about them, making them seem more than an average beginner concerto.
Recently, I started work on one of his student concertos: Op. 13. At first I was doubtful. “Aren’t there more worthwhile pieces I could be working on?” But slowly, I realized the beauty of this simple piece. There are more aspects to it than first meets the eye – slow melodies, repeating trills, and a scaled cadenza.
Then I began to wonder, who was Mr. Seitz? Where did he live? How important of a figure was he? I was a little discouraged with what I found in my research. I was able to piece together some pieces of Seitz’s life but hardly any about his work as a composer. However, by traveling down a couple of rabbit trails, I was able to see semi-clear picture of Seitz’s life. So, allow me to share what I found.
Seitz was born in 1848, in Günthersleben, Germany, in the district of Gotha. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any information about Seitz’s parents, possible siblings, or early childhood.
In fact, the earliest piece of information I found was the fact that Friedrich began violin lessons with Karl Wilhelm Uhlrich, in Sondershausen, sometime in the earlier part of his life.
I was able to find a little information about Mr. Ulrich. Apparently, Ulrich was part of a quartet which included Ferdinand Davids, who presumably was 1st violinist. Davids was an associate and editor of Felix Mendelsohn. Thus, through a series of bits of information, I discovered that Seitz’s teacher was a man of some virtuosity. Ulrich also became Friedrich’s father-in-law when Seitz married his daughter sometime later.
In 1874, at the age of 26, Friedrich became a pupil of Johann Christoph Lauterbach in Dresden. Lauterbach was a violin virtuoso of Germany, and the owner of the 1719 Lauterbach Stradivarius, which he bought from Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume sometime around 1839.
Sometime later, Mr. Seitz became Musikdirektor in Sondershausen. “Musikdirektor” has multiple meanings: director of a musical society, or “senior” musician of a city. We can’t really know what Mr. Seitz was at this time. It seems most probable that he was the president of some musical organization, that got together for evenings of music. Perhaps this musical group was a string quartet!
A couple of years later, Mr. Seitz became Konzertmeister (1st chair violin) at Magdeburg, capital city of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Finally, in 1884, Friedrich Seitz received a most important and honorable job – Hofkonzertmeister (court orchestra conductor) in Dassau, Germany! The Dessau Court Orchestra started in 1766, when Friedrich Wilheim Rust took over the court orchestra. Since 1794, when a theatre company was permanently engaged in Dessau, the orchestra has played an important part in musical productions of all genres. In 1798, the orchestra began performing in the court theatre built by Erdmannsdorff.
It was at this point in his life, when he was appointed Hofkonzertmeister, that Friedrich Seitz probably began composing. The earliest publication date I was able to find on his manuscripts was 1892, for an Introduction and Polonaise. In 1896 there were multiple works published, including 3 Duets for Soprano and Alto and Ferienneise (vacation trip). Throughout the next years, Seitz composed more works, including a piano quartet (1909) and of course, his 8 student concertos (started in 1904).
Seitz’s student concertos remain his most valued compositions to this day. They are used by teachers across the world to teach a wide variety of techniques and styles. They have a certain classical feel about them, along with slow romantic melodies. Take a listen below to Seitz’s Student Concertos, Op. 13 and his Op. 15.
With that said, I think Friedrich Seitz deserves a round of applause! Not only did Mr. Seitz write many works, that are beautiful and helpful for teacher and student alike, but he also impacted other’s musical lives with his teaching, playing, and conducting.
Hope you enjoyed the post!
– Cammi S.