(b Karlsruhe, 22 May 1820; dBrunswick, 22 Feb 1849). German pianist and composer, son of Friedrich Fesca. He had his earliest piano instruction from his father, and gave his first public performance at the age of 11 in Karlsruhe. When he was 14 he went to Berlin, where he entered the Royal Academy of the Arts, and studied composition and harmony with Rungenhagen and A.W. Bach, instrumentation with Schneider and the piano with Taubert. In 1838 he returned to Karlsruhe, where his first opera, Mariette, was performed. He began his first concert tour as a piano virtuoso in autumn 1839. His second opera was performed at Karlsruhe in 1841, and in the same year he became chamber virtuoso to Prince Carl Egon von Fürstenburg. Through his concert tours Fesca gained a reputation as a talented pianist. He was a prolific composer of songs, chamber and piano music which often lack originality. His best works include the Piano Sextet op.8, though he is remembered chiefly for his songs. His operatic style was influenced by Lortzing and Marschner.
for a complete list of published works, see Pazdírek
Ops: Mariette, 1838; Die Franzosen in Spanien, Karlsruhe, 1841; Der Troubadour, Brunswick, 1847; Ulrich von Hutten, inc., perf. Karlsruhe, 1849
Other vocal: collections of Fr. and Ger. songs; other solo songs in various languages
(b Magdeburg, 15 Feb 1789; d Karlsruhe, 24 May 1826). German composer and violinist. He was the son of Marianne Podleska, a singer and former student of Hiller, and Johann Peter August Fesca, a civil servant and amateur musician. He showed early musical talent and had violin lessons with the theatre musician Lohse and studied theory with J.F.L. Zachariä and composition with F.A. Pitterlin in Magdeburg. In 1805 he went to Leipzig to study composition with A.E. Müller and to serve as solo violinist in the Gewandhaus Orchestra. In February 1806 he became chamber musician in the Duke of Oldenburg’s chapel. Early in 1808 he joined the celebrated court chapel of Jérôme Bonaparte, who resided as King of Westphalia in Kassel. There he wrote the first of his string quartets and symphonies (which were published later), whose performances achieved considerable success. At the same time his public performances became less frequent because of a serious lung disease. After the dissolution of the court at Westphalia in 1813 Fesca was engaged as first violinist at the chapel of the Grand Duke of Baden at Karlsruhe. Before he took up this appointment in April 1814 he visited his brother in Vienna, where he sold his first compositions to the publisher Mechetti. In the years until 1821, when his health faded rapidly, Fesca was a central figure in the musical life of Karlsruhe.
Fesca’s reputation as a composer was based primarily on his string quartets and quintets. Between 1816 and 1826 he was the most frequently reviewed composer in this genre in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, and his works were highly regarded by Spohr, Nägeli and Rochlitz, among others. Weber based his ideas on progressive contemporary chamber music on Fesca’s quartets, since they combined the detailed accompaniment figuration and complex thematic development of the Classical string quartet with the harmonic richness and virtuosity demanded at that time. Also characteristic is his gentle and amiable style, though the quartets opp.7, 12 and 14 display the more extrovert manner of the quatuor concertant. Besides the chamber works, Fesca’s sacred vocal music also gained critical acclaim. A.B. Marx (1827) ranked Fesca alongside Beethoven as a composer of distinctly personal church music, while Rochlitz (1818) noted that Fesca’s setting of Psalm ix was such as a ‘contemporary Handel’ might have given to his Utrecht Jubilate. Fesca’s operas and symphonies show features of early Romantic style, while at the same time revealing his admiration for Mozart.