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Ferdinand Kauer

Ferdinand August Kauer (January 18, 1751 – April 13, 1831), was an Austrian composer and pianist.


  • Biography 1
  • Legacy 2
  • Selected works 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


Kauer was born in Klein-Thaya (today Dyjákovičky) near Znaim in South Moravia. He studied in Znaim, Tyrnau, and Vienna, and later settled in Vienna around 1777. In 1781 he joined Karl von Marinelli's newly formed company at Vienna as leader and conductor of the orchestra. From 1782 he also composed music for the theatre, including Singspiele, operas, and incidental music and songs, mostly to texts by the house poet Karl Friedrich Hensler. Their first major success was Das Faustrecht in Thüringen (The Law of the Jungle in Thüringen, 1796–1797), which was eclipsed two years later by the success of Das Donauweibchen (1798).

He was Kapellmeister of the Theater in der Leopoldstadt and Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna and also in Graz. He directed the Leopoldstadt Theater Music School and by the 1790s had become known for his popular Singspiele. In addition to his successful stage works he composed several tutorial methods for violin, flute, piano and singing (c. 1790). A tragic flood in 1830 destroyed all Kauer's possessions, including most of his scores. He continued to work as the second viola player at the Theater in der Leopoldstadt orchestra until his death in Vienna a year later.


He wrote about 200 operas and Singspiele. The romantic opera Das Donauweibchen (1798) was one of the most popular operas of the early 19th century. It was staged in Russia in 1803–1807 as Lesta, dneprovskaya rusalka (Russian: Леста, днепровская русалка) and its three sequels with Russian text and additional music by the naturalised Russian immigrant Catterino Cavos who originally hailed from Venice, and Stepan Davydov (1777–1825).

Das Donauweibchen was the first opera staged in Viipuri by Schultz’s company. It was not unusual for travelling companies to make an excursion from the nearby Saint Petersburg to Viipuri, Finland being an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire at the time.

Kauer also wrote 200 masses, many pieces of chamber music, incidental music (including Das Faustrecht in Thüringen). His "12 Neue Ungarische Tänze" reflect the influence of roaming Gypsy orchestras upon many composers of this era. In his "Sei variazioni" (c. 1810) Kauer introduced the xylophone into western classical music, and from that time this instrument has been adopted as a regular element of the orchestra. His music is rarely performed in modern times, but has been shown to be highly imaginative, tuneful, and worthy of further study.

Selected works

Title Genre Sub­divisions Libretto Première date Theatre (in Vienna)
StreitDer Streit zwischen dem Zauberer Scionco und der Fee Galantina, oder Kasperl bleibt Kasperl comedy with machines and music 3 acts   1784-02-03February 3, 1784 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
unschuldigeDer unschuldige Betrug Kinder-Operette 1 act HuberL Huber 1790-06-22June 22, 1790 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Bastien und Bastienne Operette after French work 1790-08-18August 18, 1790 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
SerenadeDie Serenade, oder Der gefoppte Alte Singspiel 2 acts   1792-06-04June 4, 1792 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Faustrecht1Das Faustrecht in Thüringen part 1 Schauspiel 4 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1796-04-07April 7, 1796 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Faustrecht2Das Faustrecht in Thüringen part 2 Schauspiel 4 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1796-06-28June 28, 1796 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Faustrecht3Das Faustrecht in Thüringen part 3 Schauspiel 4 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1797-01-17January 17, 1797 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Donauweibchen1Das Donauweibchen part 1 romantisch-komisches Volksmärchen 3 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1798-01-11January 11, 1798 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Donauweibchen2Das Donauweibchen part 2 romantisch-komisches Volksmärchen 3 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1798-02-13February 13, 1798 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
LöwenritterDie Löwenritter Schauspiel 4 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1799-09-05September 5, 1799 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
SternenmädchenDas Sternenmädchen im Meidlinger Walde romantisch-komisches Volksmärchen 3 acts HuberL Huber 1801-10-20October 20, 1801 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Telemach Prinz von Ithaca travestirtes Singspiel 3 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1801-04-29April 29, 1801 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Philibert und Kasperl, oder Weiber sind getreuer als Männer Zauberoper 3 acts HenslerKarl Friedrich Hensler 1804-02-07February 7, 1804 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Faschingswehen Lustspiel 3 acts KringsteinerJ F Kringsteiner 1805-03-04March 4, 1805 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
KreutzerkomödieDie Kreutzerkomödie Posse 3 acts KringsteinerJ F Kringsteiner 1805-06-21June 21, 1805 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
travestierteDer travestierte Telemach Karikatur 3 acts PerinetJoachim Perinet 1805-08-29August 29, 1805 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Heinrich der Stolze, Herzog von Sachsen Schauspiel 3 acts GleichJ A Gleich 1806-10-05October 5, 1806 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Orpheus und Euridice, oder So geht es im Olympus zu mythologische Karikatur 2 acts MeislK Meisl 1813-02-20February 20, 1813 Theater in der Leopoldstadt
Antonius und Cleopatra Posse 1 act PerthM F Perth, after August von Kotzebue 1814-02-25February 25, 1814 Theater in der Josefstadt
MusikantenDie Musikanten am Hohen Markt Posse 3 acts GleichJ A Gleich 1815-03-28March 28, 1815 Theater in der Josefstadt

Ferdinand Kauer’s keyboard "Sonata militaire" was mistakenly attributed to Joseph Haydn as Sonata D major, Hob. XVI: D1.


  • Kauer, Ferdinand. Kurzgefasste Generalbass-Schule für Anfänger. Wien, J. Cappi. c. 1800
  • Kauer, Ferdinand. Kurzgefasste Harmonieschule für Damen mit Tonsystem, worin das H ausgeschlossen wird. c. 1800
  • Manschinger K.: Ferdinand Kauer, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1929
  • Bauer, A.: Das Theater in der Josefstadt, 1957
  • Longyear, R. M.: Ferdinand Kauer's Percussion Enterprises, Galpin Society Journal, vol. 27 (1974), 2–8.

External links

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