Roman Hoffstetter


Born: April 24, 1742 Died: May 21, 1815
Roman Hoffstetter was a minor composer of the Classical era. He was one of a pair of twins; the other was Johann Urban Alois Hoffstetter, who became director of the Franconian province of the Teutonic Order and also a small-time composer. Hoffstetter entered the Benedictine monastery at Amorbach, took his vows on June 5, 1763, and was ordained a priest on September 10, 1766. He was choir director and later, prior of the monastery. In 1803, the monasteries of Bavaria were dissolved and Hoffstetter and his abbot moved to Miltenburg am Main. Details of his life are lacking, but he died there 12 years later.

In 1965, a musicologist named Alan Tyson published his finding that the entire set of six string quartets long-admired as Haydn's Op. 3, including the famous "Serenade" quartet, were actually by Roman Hoffstetter. This resulted in an effort to find and assess any other music he wrote, including his three viola concertos and ten masses. Discovery of six symphonies signed by Hoffstetter turned out to be by Johann Urban Alois. While the masses sometimes seem disorganized, the instrumental music is pretty well crafted. This is because Hoffstetter had a good model: He wrote "everything that flows from Haydn's pen seems to me so beautiful and remains so imprinted on my memory that I cannot prevent myself now and again from imitating something as well as I can." Hoffstetter's music has the virtue of being memorable, with clear-cut themes that stay in the memory and make it easy to follow the musical development.

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