Robert Franz was Halle’s most important composer in the 19th century. He was born there, at Brunoswarte 13, the son of a ‘Salzwagenladermeister’ (salt-wagon loading foreman), on 28 June 1815 and died at home at Luisenstrafie 8 on 24 October 1892. A composer of lieder and editor of Bach and Handel, Franz conducted the Halle Singakademie with distinction from 1842 until 1867 and led the city’s musical celebrations marking the centenary of Handel’s death in 1859. That year he was appointed Musikdirector of Halle University, which two years later conferred on him an honorary doctorate. Liszt admired Franz sufficiently to publish a monograph about him in 1872 and, six years later, Ludwig II of Bavaria made him a Knight of the Order of Maximilian. On his 70th birthday in 1885, Franz was granted the Order of the Crown by the German Kaiser and made an Ehrenburger by the citizens of Halle, who in 1907 renamed the Singakademie in his memory.
FRANZ MUSEUM Photo Gallery
Franz and the Robert-Franz-Singakademie are commemorated at the Handel-Haus in the second-floor displays devoted to the musical history of Halle. On display in Room 6 are some of Franz’s personal effects, including his music collection and correspondence, his piano stool and a sofa, and an array of contemporary and modern likenesses – three pencil sketches by Hermann Schenck, a genial oil painted by Curt Herrmann in 1886, a print by A. Neumann, a bronze head by Gottfried Albert and a bust by Antje Spiesecke (1992) – giving ample testimony to the esteem in which Franz is still held in Halle.
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