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Johann Hoffmann (1770 - 1814)

Little is known about the life and works of the Viennese mandolin player and composer Johann Hoffmann. His works were only re-disseminated in the mid-twentieth century; the originals are still to be found in Viennese libraries. They all involve the mandolin, and require great virtuosity. Their treatment of the instrument, its arpeggios and multiple stops is highly idiomatic.

Around 1800, the six-course mandolin experienced a renaissance in cultivated Viennese circles, and numerous now-forgotten composers left a large repertoire for the instrument. It includes sonatas for mandolin and bass instrument, concertos, and especially duos, trios and quartets with various combinations of strings. This music was well-adapted to the taste of the period, and can be quite impressive in its melodious, elegant simplicity. Hoffmann can be counted among the most important of this generation of composers. The extreme difficulty of his sonatas shows that he must have been an outstanding instrumentalist.



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