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A Tale of Two Hummels

First there was Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), a highly estimated composer and pianist, mentored by Mozart and rivaled by Beethoven. Some consider him the missing link between Classicism and Romanticism. Then there was Franz Hummel (1939-2022), a concert pianist who turned full time to composing in 1973, and also improvised like crazy.

Johann Hummel was one of the many composers commissioned to contribute a variation on a waltz by Anton Diabelli for an anthology that also included Beethoven's 33 Variations Op. 120. And in 2006/7 Franz Hummel wrote his own set of 33 Diabelli Variations.

"I had never heard of Franz Hummel until a few years ago, when I stumbled across not one but actually two commercial recordings of his original Diabelli Variations," Jed says. "And then I discovered that this composer also was quite the improvisor. So I thought it might be an interesting idea to explore 'A Tale of Two Hummels' on this week's episode."

"Sadly, Franz Hummel died this summer, shortly after I assembled and edited this week's episode; I often record this program way in advance. That's you'll hear me refer to Franz Hummel in the present during the program. However, I decided to leave the show as is, while acknowledging the composer's passing in my promotional blurbs and social media posts."

Tune in Tuesday night at 10, with a rebroadcast Wednesday at noon, exclusively on The Classical Network and WWFM.org.

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Jed Distler is Artist-in-Residence for The Classical Network and program host of Between the Keys, Tuesdays at 10 pm.