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Digital Collections

Ferdinand Praeger Collection of Scores, circa 1829-1891

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The Ferdinand Praeger Collection of Scores, circa 1829-1891, consists of 484 items, all but a few of which are manuscript scores. Due to the fragile condition of some of the scores, not every score was digitized. As a result, there are only 472 digitized scores in this digital collection. Two of the additional documents received with the collection were also digitized and the digital collection includes digital copies of documents, portraits, and correspondence about the Praeger family generously provided by the great, great grandson of Ferdinand Praeger, Andrew Leach.

This is the largest collection of Praeger's musical manuscripts in the world. Nearly all the scores are in Praeger's own hand. The majority of the works are for piano, but the collection also includes chamber music for strings, large ensemble works, vocal works, and sketches. Praeger was born in Leipzig on January 22, 1815, to a Dutch father and an English mother. As a child, he studied cello, piano, and violin. His father, Heinrich Aloys Praeger (1783-1854) worked as a musician, composer, and conductor. In 1831, at the age of 16, Praeger became a music teacher at The Hague and continued to study piano, violin, and composition. He moved to London in 1834, working as a teacher and traveling to give piano recitals, many of which included his own works. Praeger became the London correspondent for Robert Schumann's music journal, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, in 1842. His contributions included highlights of London musical events, reviews of performances, and general discussions about current musical topics.

Praeger's compositions were performed in cities across Europe, including Paris, Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, and Meiningen. Praeger is perhaps best known today for his connection with Richard Wagner. Following Wagner's death, Praeger wrote the book Wagner, as I Knew Him, which quickly became controversial and was pulled from publication. Wagner followers disputed the book, claiming that Praeger exaggerated his role in Wagner's life and portrayed Wagner in a negative way.

The collection has been described in a finding aid.