1755-1823

1755, Berlin, Germany.

Remarkable musical genius, so celebrated in his day as to be looked upon as a serious rival of Beethoven. He was born in Berlin, the date being a matter of dispute. Steibelt’s father was a piano-maker and from him Daniel learned the rudiments of his art. His talent was observed while he was very young, and the Crown Prince, afterward King Frederick William II., a keen lover of music, took a deep interest in him and had him taught by Kirnberger, director of the Court music. Steibelt entered the German army, but remained only until 1784, and from then on led a restless, roving life, giving concerts in various German cities and achieving a great deal of success as a pianist. He finally settled in Paris and became a gay figure in the Court of Louis XVI.

Steibelt had many pupils of note and was looked upon as a genius, although he was loose in morals, a kleptomaniac, recklessly extravagant, besides being vain, arrogant, and disagreeable in the extreme. In 1793 he wrote an opera, founded upon the Romeo and Juliet of Shakespeare, and it was produced with success. He was finally obliged to leave Paris because he was so heavily in debt. He went to London and became well known there as a composer and pianist. From 1799 he traveled through Europe, and while in Vienna arranged a French translation of Haydn’s Creation, which brought him much money and great success. Finally, in 1809, he was appointed director for life of the French Opera at St. Petersburg. He died in 1823, heavily in debt, and leaving his family in such poor circumstances that they had to be assisted by friends. Steibelt wrote many piano works; about sixty violin sonatas; forty sonatas for harp and piano; several overtures, and four or five operas. His music is seldom heard nowadays, though his sonatas and concertos have been warmly praised. His method for the piano had considerable vogue in its day.

Hubbard, Volume 6, pp. 351-52

  1. Carew