A German musician of unusually wide skills - composer, singer, librettist, actor and player of several instruments - was (Gustav) Albert Lortzing, born to travelling actor parents on 23 October 1801. He made his first stage appearance at the age of twelve and he soon became very much the favourite of his parents' audiences in Aachen, Barmen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, as members of the Josef Derossi Ensemble.
Lortzing married and sired eleven children, became a freemason and began composing music - an oratorio Die Himmelfahrt Christi and for Grabbe's Don Juan und Faust (in which he also played the part of Don Juan). As a composer, his operas often failed, but he's most remembered for Zar und Zimmermann (the story of Tsar Peter the Great's travels to England, Germany and Holland disguised as a carpenter, written in 1837), and the 1842 Der Wildschütz, a comedy by August von Kotzebue.
He died in Berlin, stressed and dogged by financial troubles, on 21 January 1851. Meyerbeer attended Lortzing's funeral, at which the coffin was adorned in the forbidden colour combination of black, gold and red. Lortzing is honoured with a statue in the city of his birth, Berlin.
A selection of M&V articles about Albert Lortzing
Ensemble. Pace and Wit - Albert Lortzing's 'Der Wildschütz', reviewed by Mike Wheeler