Austrian pianist and composer. Following in the steps of Mozart (his teacher), his melodies are graceful if somewhat overly symmetrical and ‘square’. He was known as a conservative in his lifetime, clinging to a decaying tradition in the face of growing Romanticism. In addition to his keyboard works, which include seven concertos, he wrote choral and chamber works and operas.
He learnt music at first from his father, the conductor Joseph Hummel, who had gone to Vienna in 1785 as conductor of the Theater auf der Wieden. By that time Johann was already a brilliant pianist and Mozart took him as a pupil for two years. In 1787 he went on tour in Germany, Holland, Scotland, and England and had further lessons from Muzio Clementi in London, where he stayed until 1792. In 1793 he was back in Vienna, studying composition with Johann Albrechtsberger, Haydn, and Antonio Salieri. In 1803 he visited Russia and was music director to Prince Esterházy 1804–11. In 1816–19 he held a similar post at the court of Württemberg in Stuttgart and was at the court of Weimar 1819–22 and from 1833 to his death, undertaking extensive concert tours in between and spending much time in London. He was a friend of Beethoven and was the original dedicatee of Schubert's last three piano sonatas. He married the singer Elisabeth Röckl (1793–1883).
WorksStage operas Die Rückfahrt des Kaisers (1814) and Mathilde von Guise (1810); ballets Hélène et Paris (1807), Das belebte Gemälde, Sappho; pantomime Der Zauberring (1811), incidental music to Grillparzer's Die Ahnfrau.
Other Masses and other church music; seven piano concertos; trumpet concerto (1803), chamber music; sonatas for piano with another instrument; piano sonatas, rondos, variations.
Hummel, Johann Piano Sonata op. 81, First Movement