Louis Spohr: Family © Martin Wulfhorst 2009
1. Dorette Scheidler,baptized Dorothea Henriette, married name: Spohr, born Dec. 12, 1787 in Gotha, died Nov. 20, 1834 in Kassel, harpist and pianist. As the daughter of the Gotha Court musician Johann David Scheidler (1748–1802) and his wife, the Court singer Susanne Scheidler, she received a comprehensive education. She made her first public appearances as a harpist and pianist at age seventeen. She also played the violin but gave up the instrument after 1806—at the insistence of her husband Louis Spohr, whom she married on February 2, 1806 in Gotha. Her concerts in Gotha and her extended tours throughout Germany in the following years established her reputation as one of the best German harpists. Her repertoire consisted mostly of her husband’s compositions—solo pieces for harp as well as sonatas and symphonies concertantes for harp and violin, more rarely also piano works such as Beethoven’s piano concertos. From February 1813 to the end of 1814 she had an engagement as harpist at Theater an der Wien. In the following years she toured extensively with her husband through Switzerland and Italy as well as to London and Paris. But after years of this strenuous life her health deteriorated. Further, she suffered from the long periods of separation from her daughters Emilie, Ida (1808-1881), and Therese (1818–1838). Finally, when she could not manage the switch to Érard’s novel, larger double-pedal harp type (having always played on a single-pedal Nadermann harp), she appeared in public merely a few more times as a pianist — performing, among other works, the Quintet Op. 52 that Spohr wrote for her.
The letters to her husband are a testimony to her acumen, her wit, her education, and her kindness. Her diaries are lost, as are her compositions from her Gotha years mentioned by Hodermann. Presumably she had a considerable share in her husbands harp compositions.
L. Spohr, Briefwechsel mit seiner Frau Dorette, ed. by F. Göthel, Kassel 1957
R. Hodermann, Spohr und Romberg in Gotha, in: NMZ 62, 1895, 97–98
L. Spohr, Selbstbiographie/Lebenserinnerungen, s. Spohr/Writings
H.J. Zingel, Eine deutsche Musikergattin und Virtuosin, in: Thüringer Fähnlein 3, 1934, 714–16
M. Wulfhorst, Louis Spohr's Early Chamber Music (1796–1812), Diss. City Univ. of New York 1995, 173–82
2. Emilie Spohr, married name: Zahn, born May 27, 1807 in Gotha, died June 6, 1895 in Kassel, singer. Among her teachers was the Dresden pedagogue J.A. Miecksch (1822–23). After performing in Kassel as a soprano and alto, she gave concerts in the US, where she moved in 1841 with her husband Zahn, a business man. Documented solo performances include A. P. Heinrich’s Grand Music Festival in New York in 1842, a recital with Beethoven Songs in Boston in 1841, and the Messiah in New York in 1842. Whether she ever realized her plans to teach in the US is unclear. After her husband’s bankruptcy she returned to Kassel with her daughter in 1852 and obtained a divorce.
Documents and Literature
Letters D-Kl and US-NYp
H. Shanet, Philharmonic: A History of New York's Orchestra, New York 1975
3. Rosalie Spohr, Auguste Theodora Ulrike Amalie Rosalie, married name: Gräfin von Sauerma, born Jan. 22, 1829, in Braunschweig, died 1919, harpist, daughter of Louis Spohr’s brother Wilhelm (1788-1860). Her first documented performances as a soloist, with her uncle Louis conducting, took place in Kassel from 1850 on. Subsequently she performed in Weimar, Berlin, and other cities. She was admired by Liszt and held in high esteem by von Bülow, but gave up her career after marrying Count Xaver von Sauerma auf Zülzendorf in 1854.
A.M. Abell, Some Unkown Letters of Louis Spohr, in: Musical Courier 61/7, 1905, 10–11
K. Hamburger, Aus der Korrespondenz der Familie Liszt, in: Studia musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 31, 1989, 441–63.
Louis Spohr (1784–1859) © Martin Wulfhorst 2006