Ferdinand David (1810 – 1873)

Ferdinand David

Ferdinand David, photography from the collection Manskopf, UB Frankfurt

The Hamburg-born Ferdinand David studied violin in 1823/1824 in Kassel with Louis Spohr, and music theory with M. Hauptmann. As early as in 1826 (until 1829) he was one of the most notable violinists of his time and worked as a violinist at the Königstädter Theatre in Berlin. There he became friends with Felix Mendelssohn. In 1836 David was appointed concertmaster of Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, where he was conferred with conducting tasks when Mendelssohn was absent. From 1843 he was teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he trained among others Joseph Joachim and Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski.
Ferdinand David was a close friend of Schumann. The fact that Robert Schumann borrowed money from David, who appeared as witness and advocate in Schumann's trial against Clara's father Friedrich Wieck, testifies the profoundness of this friendship. On 15th of December 1843 Schumann wrote in his household book: "Informally addressing with Hiller, David and Gade" (Wolfgang Seibold, Familie, Freunde, Zeitgenossen, 2008, p. 68). The connection also existed on musical level, because David assisted Schumann with the composition of the first Symphony op. 38, as well as with the string quartets op. 41. Thus Schumann frequently asked David to perform Schumann's string quartets on trial before printing. Ferdinand David was also the one who convinced Schumann to compose sonatas for violin and piano. On 1st of January 1850, he wrote to Schumann: "Your Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano [op.73] please me so much; why don’t you compose anything for violin and piano? It so much lacks of something proper, new and I don’t know anyone who could do it better than you.” (from: Ulrich Tadday, Schumannhandbuch, 2006)
After the departure from Leipzig a warm correspondence remained. Schumann's most important expression of friendship to David is demonstrated in the dedicated Sonata in D minor op. 121, in which Schumann composed the sound sequence D-A-F-D.

(Philip Förster)
Tranlation: Katharina Ma


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