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Christian Cannabich

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Johann Christian Innocenz Bonaventura Cannabich (c.1731–1798), was a German composer in the classical style.

Cannabich was born in Mannheim; his exact birth date is unknown, but he was baptised on 28th December 1731. He was the son of the flautist and composer Martin Friedrich Cannabich (c.1700-1773), and was a pupil of Johann Stamitz (1717-1757). He joined the Mannheim court orchestra as a violinist at the age of twelve. In 1750, he went on to Rome to study music under Niccolò Jommelli, and remained there until 1753. In 1759 he married Maria Elisabeth de la Motte, who was one of the ladies-in-waiting of the Duchess of Zweibruecken, and he obtained the favour of Duke Christian IV, whom he accompanied to Paris in 1764. In 1766 he was in Paris again, where he published six symphonies and six trios. Most of Cannabich’s works after this date were published by Parisian publishers.

In 1774 he succeeded Johann Stamitz as director of the Mannheim court orchestra, and during the same period became a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart said of Cannabich (in a letter to his father Leopold Mozart, dated 9th July 1778): “He is the best music director I have ever seen, and has the love and awe of all under him”.

In the 1790s musical activity at the court was declining and Cannabich, like many of his colleagues, complained about the cut-backs in the musical establishment, and - more seriously - the withholding of wages.

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