(b Mainz, 18 Aug 1745; d Berlin, 10 July 1825). German bass. He studied the violin and cello, but first attracted attention at the age of 18 with his singing in a church choir and in student operetta in Mainz. He soon received a position at court as a supernumerary, and was noticed by the tenor Anton Raaff with whom he studied after 1770 in Mannheim. In 1772 he became virtuoso da camera at the court there (according to the libretto of Salieri’s La fiera di Venezia, 1772) and was given a grant by Elector Carl Theodor to continue his education with Raaff. In February 1775 he took over instruction in singing at the Mannheim Seminarium Musicum. He created the role of Rudolf in Ignaz Holzbauer's serious German opera, Günther von Schwarzburg (1777), and by 1778 he received the highest salary among Mannheim court singers. In that year he moved with the court to Munich, where in 1779 he married Barbara Strasser (b Mannheim, 1758; d after 1825), who studied singing under Giorgetti. From 1780 to 1783 the couple worked for the court theatre in Vienna, where Fischer sang Osmin in the first performance of Die Entführung, much to the satisfaction of Mozart, who frequently wrote about him in his letters and arranged the aria Non so d’onde viene (k512) and may have written the recitative and aria Aspri rimorsi atroci (k432/421a) for him. When the Singspiel company was replaced by an Italian opera buffa company in 1783 Fischer went to Paris, where he performed at the Concert Spirituel with much success. He then secured his reputation with a tour of Italy and in 1785 visited Vienna, Prague and Dresden. The couple served the Prince of Thurn and Taxis in Regensburg from 1785 before Fischer received a lifelong appointment in Berlin, with J.F. Reichardt’s intervention, in 1789. The title role of Reichardt's Brenno (1789) was the first of many collaborations between Fischer and composer. From this time on Fischer ceased appearing in comic roles. Guest appearances in London (at Salomon’s invitation in 1794 and 1798), Leipzig (1798), Hamburg (1801–2) and elsewhere added to his fame until he gave up public performance in 1812, and retired on a pension in 1815.
In his day Fischer was regarded as Germany’s leading serious bass singer. His voice, which was said to range from D to a', was praised by Reichardt as having ‘the depth of a cello and the natural height of a tenor’. Others, too, repeatedly compared his voice to a tenor's in its flexibility, lightness and precision. He also composed, but his only extant work is the virtuoso song pair Der Kritikaster und der Trinker (Berlin, 1802), containing the popular drinking song ‘Im kühlen Keller sitz’ ich hier’. His handwritten autobiography, which goes up to 1790, is located in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. His son Joseph Fischer (b Berlin, 1780; d Mannheim, 1862) was a bass singer and lied composer of some success, and his daughters Josepha Fischer-Vernier (b 1782) and Wilhelmine (b 1785) were also distinguished singers.
[C. Friebert:] ‘Bemerkungen über das Pariser und Wiener Theater’, Deutsches Museum (1781), 527 only
J.F.Reichardt: Musikalische Monatsschrift, i (July–Dec 1792), 67–8
H.Theinert: ‘Jahrhundertfeier eines deutschen Trinkliedes und Mitteilungen aus dem Leben des Sänger-Komponisten Ludwig Fischer (1745–1825)’, Die Musik, ii/1 (1902–3), 262–70
A.Gottron: ‘Klein Beitrāge zur Mainzer Musikgeschichte, I Die Selbstbiographie des Bassisten Ludwig Fischer aus Mainz’, Mainzer Almanach (1959), 113–25
R.Würtz: ‘Mozarts Opern in biedermeierlichen Mannheim (1800–1850)’, MJb 1980–83, 126–35
O.Michtner: Das alte Burgtheater als Opernbühne (Vienna, 1970)
P.Corneilson: ‘Vogler’s Method of Singing’, JM xvi (1998), 91–109, esp. 108–09
ROLAND WÜRTZ/PAUL CORNEILSON, THOMAS BAUMAN
Fischer, Matthäus [Matthias] (Karl Konrad)
(b Ried, Swabia, bap. 28 Nov 1763; d Augsburg, 5 May 1840). German composer, brother of Anton Fischer. The son of a village schoolmaster, he became a chorister at the Augustinian monastery of Heilig Kreuz in 1773. He was ordained priest in 1788, from 1784 being organist (and later choirmaster) of the foundation; he also reorganized and catalogued its library. In 1810 he moved to St George, Augsburg, as choirmaster, in 1820 returning to Heilig Kreuz and simultaneously holding an appointment at St Ulrich. His last appointment was as music director at St Moritz. A set of six masses was published as his op.1 at Augsburg in 1820; he also composed a number of Singspiels and occasional pieces for performance in the Jesuit College at Augsburg, and a quantity of other church music, some of which was much performed in Bavarian churches.
E.F.Schmid: Ein schwäbisches Mozartbuch (Lorch and Stuttgart, 1948)
R.Münster: ‘Bestände mit mehrstimmigen Musikhandschriften in Bayern’, Studies in Music History Presented to H.C. Robbins Landon, ed. O. Biba and D.W. Jones (London, 1996), 177–94
Fischer, Michael Gottard
(b Alach, nr Erfurt, 3 June 1773; d Erfurt, 12 Jan 1829). German organist and composer. After studying the organ and counterpoint with J.C. Kittel in Erfurt he became J.W. Hässler’s successor there as organist at the Barfüsserkirche and director of the civic concerts, later succeeding Kittel at the Predigerkirche (1809). In 1816 he became music teacher at the Erfurt teachers’ seminary, where he taught the organ and thoroughbass. Like J.C.H. Rinck and K.G. Umbreit, Fischer modelled his work on Kittel, who had developed a genre of short, expressive organ pieces based on Bach’s techniques; Fischer’s organ works, long popular with amateur musicians and praised as teaching pieces, show a flexibility of style avoiding the rigidity of post-Bach organ writing but at the same time standing apart from the newer style of J.H. Knecht and the Abbé Vogler. Fischer’s orchestral works and chamber music with piano show a freer technique that led to a notable richness of sound, particularly in his concertos. His music, particularly his chorale settings (1820–21), long remained popular. His fusion of melodically orientated chordal writing with a freer contrapuntal texture proved influential to later organ music. Among Fischer’s pupils was A.G. Ritter (1811–85), author of an important early history of organ playing (1848).