Johann Christian Stumpff


In the research done by musicologists so far almost nothing is known with certainty about composers named Stumpf(f). From the early 19th century up to now musical reference books mention only one musician, named Johann Christian Stumpf(f), who – a native of Germany – lived in Paris around 1785. He is reported to have been a bassoonist at the theater of Altona until 1798, afterwards a choral coach at the Frankfurt opera house, and is supposed to have died in Frankfurt in the spring of 1801.  


Though the author of the article about Stumpf(f) in MGG (1965), Hans Otto Hiekel, noticed that the death entry in the Frankfurt parish records
(April 11, 1801) reads:  


“D.Ludovicus Stumpf Mogunus, Musicus Exercitu Reipublicae Gallicae, Actatis 38 annorum,” he believed it to be related to Johann Christian Stumpff in spite of the different first names. Only S.Forsberg in “The New Grove Dictionary (1980)” concluded from the evidence of Stumpff´s works published in Paris as early as 1762 that the mentioned data must refer to several persons bearing this name. Indeed, the Frankfurt death entry cannot mean the Stumpff of Paris, but neither the Frankfurt choral coach, because the latter´s compositions – always signed J(ohann?) Stumpf – appeared in such numbers until 1810, that it can be safely deduced he must have been alive after 1801. It is most probable that at least three bearers of the name Stumpf(f) existed: the elder Christian Stumpff (the additional first name Johann or  abbreviation cannot be traced), andJ(ohann?) and Ludwig Stumpf, belonging to the next generation and possibly the sons of Christian.


It can be assumed, that Christian Stumpff was born between 1730 and 1740 in the Rhine-Main-region and went to Paris as a young man where he lived at least until 1785. Perhaps he went to England later on where there exists at least one mention of the author A. Christian Stumpf in self-publication in London. Nothing more is heard of him after that. Contrary to J.Stumpf in  Frankfurt, who exclusively wrote music for wind instruments, especially for the bassoon, which he played himself, Christian Stumpff composed all kinds of instrumental music, however without piano: duos, trios, quartets, concertos, symphonies of the normal and the concertante types.  


In all these works the composer shows himself entirely as an adherent  of the Parisian concertante style. This is also true for his duos for two solists puplished by Michaud in Paris in 1782/83 and republished by N. Naueisen in Frankfurt in 1783. I am grateful for supplying a copy and given permission for publication.


Prof.Dr. W.Sowoday




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