Anthony Philip Heinrich


Born: March 11, 1781; Schönbüchel, Bohemia   Died: May 3, 1861; New York, NY  
Anthony Philip Heinrich was an emblematic success story of the early United States. Aside from some childhood piano and violin lessons, he was largely a self-taught immigrant musician who rose to prominence as America's first recognized professional composer, grandly hailed as "the Beethoven of America."

Heinrich was adopted into an affluent branch of his German-Bohemian family, and inherited a successful
Read more business. Unfortunately, he lost his inheritance in the course of the 1811 Austrian financial crash. He tried twice to reestablish his business in the United States, without success; by 1820 he had resolved to give it all up and turn to a career in music. Before writing his own first composition (in 1818), Heinrich undertook two major treks: a 300-mile wilderness journey on foot from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and a 400-mile trip down the Ohio River to Kentucky. Heinrich would recount his personal experiences in America's wild places in his music. Among his earliest works are found such titles as The Dawning of Music in Kentucky, or The Pleasures of Harmony in the Solitudes of Nature (a collection of songs and violin and piano pieces) and The Sylviad, or Minstrelsy of Nature in the Wilds of N. America. He presented himself as a log-cabin, frontier composer (he wrote his first pieces under Walden-like conditions in Kentucky), and his works are preponderantly programmatic pieces inspired by America's nature, history, and peoples (he sympathetically evoked Native Americans, for example, in his first orchestral piece, Pushmataha).

Although his orchestral music was too complex for the limited abilities of the period's home-grown ensembles, the orchestras of America's principal cities frequently made valiant efforts on Heinrich's behalf. He helped organize the New York Philharmonic Society in 1842, he played his own music for President Tyler, and he made several extended trips to Europe, where the music of this unschooled American savage made a tremendous impression (the fact that he was born and bred in Europe no doubt improved his reception). Despite such acclaim on two continents, Heinrich ended his long life in poverty.

Heinrich's compositions are rough, perhaps needlessly complex in texture yet formally undeveloped, oddly chromatic, and beholden to Haydn, Italian opera (even though he wrote little vocal music), and classical dance forms. He also quoted popular tunes liberally. His music is eccentric but striking, and in different ways Heinrich may be seen as a forerunner to both Gottschalk and Ives. Read less
Browse 1-5 of 5 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs / Montgomery, Dellal
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3418 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Alexander Reinagle,  Thomas Haynes Bayley,  Peter Gilles  ... 
    Performer:  Pamela Dellal,  Vivian Montgomery
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    CD: $15.49
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  • 2.
    Heinrich: The Dawning Of Music In Kentucky / Bruce, Et Al
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 93 Release Date: 06/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anthony Philip Heinrich
    Performer:  Neely Bruce,  William Stone,  Adrienne Passer,  Carol Thurman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Music Group
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  • 3.
    The Wind Demon - 19th Century Piano Music / Ivan Davis
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80257 Release Date: 07/27/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Mason,  Homer Newton Bartlett,  William Henry Fry,  Louis Moreau Gottschalk  ... 
    Performer:  Ivan Davis
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  • 4.
    The Flowering Of Vocal Music In America 1767-1823
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80467 Release Date: 11/22/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Knowil Jackson,  Oliver Shaw,  Benjamin Carr,  Anthony Philip Heinrich  ... 
    Performer:  Susan Belling,  Debra Vanderlinde,  James Tyeska,  Regis Iandiorio  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Raeburn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New World String Orchestra
    On sale! $40.98
    CD: $38.99
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  • 5.
    Heinrich: The Ornithological Combat Of Kings;  Gottschalk
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80208 Release Date: 12/08/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Moreau Gottschalk,  Anthony Philip Heinrich
    Performer:  Anthony Paratore,  Joseph Paratore
    Conductor:  Christopher Keene
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Syracuse Symphony Orchestra
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