German conductor and composer; born Jan. 14, 1835, in Leipsic; died Oct. 28, 1891, at Frankfort-on-the-Main; studied with Moscheles, Plaidy (piano), Hauptmann (composition), and Reitz (instrumentation) at the Leipsic Conservatory (1851-54). Graduating with high honors, he first became musical director of the Actientheater at Chemnitz, and during the following six years successively conducted opera-orchestras in Altenburg, Düsseldorf, Cassel, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Magdeburg. In 1860, when only twenty-five years of age, he was appointed leader of the orchestra at the Imperial Opera at Vienna, and in the same year he was elected director of the famous Philharmonic concerts. Several months later he received an appointment as teacher of thorough-bass and composition in the Vienna Conservatory. From 1875 to 1881 he was court kapellmeister at Karlsruhe, and then became the first kapellmeister at the Stadttheater, Frankfort.

Dessoff was at one time perhaps the leading conductor of his day. Although not a strict adherent of the Mendelssohn school, his virtuosity, technical finish, and careful attention to detail stamped his performances as models. His influence upon the development of the Philharmonic Society can scarcely be overestimated; and it was largely due to his initiative that this important musical institution of Vienna was placed upon a secure financial and artistic basis.

  • Mendel, Musikalisches Konversations-Lexikon.
S. J. So.
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