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 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 fi­nal­ly had 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