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Cipriani Potter

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Philip Cipriani Hambly Potter (3 October 1792 – 26 September 1871) was an English musician. He was a composer, pianist, conductor and teacher. After an early career as a performer and composer, he was a teacher in the Royal Academy of Music in London and was its principal from 1832 to 1859.
Potter was born in London to a musical family. He was the third son of the seven children of Richard Huddleston Potter (1755–1821), a flautist, violinist, and teacher, and his wife, Charlotte, née Baumgarten (1757–1837). The name Cipriani, by which he was known throughout his life, came from his godmother, who was said to have been a sister of the artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani.
When Potter was seven his musical instruction began, first with his father and then with Thomas Attwood, William Crotch and, from 1805 to 1810, Joseph Wölfl. The last, who, like Attwood, was a former pupil of Mozart, is considered by the biographer Philip Olleson to have been the teacher who most influenced the young Potter. At 21 Potter was accepted as an associate member of the recently founded Philharmonic Society, and was elected to full membership in 1815. The following year the society commissioned an overture in E minor from him, and he featured in subsequent concerts both as composer and performer. He made his debut as a pianist in his own sextet for piano, flute, and strings, Op. 11, another commission from the society, in April 1816.
In 1817 Potter travelled to Vienna, where he stayed for eight months, before moving on to other cities in Austria and Germany and then going to Italy. Looking back at Potter's life, the composer and academic Sir George Macfarren observed in 1884 that Potter's temporary residence in continental Europe was "as much for the purpose of study as for the sake of obtaining experience of other musical performances than were to be heard in London. At that time London was not, as it is now, the centre of all that is to be heard in music." In Vienna, Potter met Beethoven, who approved of him but declined to teach him composition, advising him to study with Aloys Förster. Beethoven nevertheless read some of Potter's compositions and gave him his comments. Potter later published an article, "Recollections of Beethoven" in Musical World, making clear his great admiration and affection. During his time in Italy, Potter developed an admiration of Italian opera, and particularly the works of Rossini. Twelve years later he wrote Variazioni di bravura on a theme by Rossini, using a melody from Matilde di Shabran.
Returning to England in 1819, Potter became a central figure in London concert life as both a pianist and conductor. He regularly programmed the piano concertos of Mozart, which were scarcely known in London: there had been only six performances of a Mozart piano concerto there before Potter's return. He gave regular performances of at least nine of them. He also gave the English premieres of Beethoven's Third and Fourth piano concertos.
In 1822, Potter began teaching at the newly founded Royal Academy of Music, first piano and later conducting the orchestra. In 1832 he became principal, holding the post for 27 years, a tenure surpassed in length only by that of Alexander Mackenzie. His students included William Sterndale Bennett, Edward Collett May, and Joseph Barnby. As he focused more on his educational work and preparing editions of Mozart and Beethoven keyboard music, he composed less and less often. There are few works written after 1837. He maintained a keen interest in new music from the continent, championing the works of Schumann and, in his later years, Brahms. According to Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "Potter's influence as a teacher was great; a man of ready wit and generosity, he was much admired and loved."
In 1871 Potter's last appearance in concert was in the first British performance of Brahms's German Requiem, in the version with two-piano accompaniment, with the pianist Kate Loder. He died on 26 September of that year at his home near Hyde Park, London, and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.
Potter seems to have adopted two separate and contradictory systems for the numbering of his symphonies of which nine are extant, the same total being quoted in contemporary commentary: one based on the order of composition (hence those styled 1, 6, 7, 8 and 10) and another based on key (hence the G minor symphony of 1832 is also styled number 2, i.e. the second G minor symphony whilst the two D major symphonies are styled numbers 2 and 4, i.e. the second and fourth D major symphonies). Thus it is possible to surmise that several works, including both a first and a third D major symphony, were lost or destroyed. This has led to considerable confusion which the following list seeks to clarify by adopting a simple chronology.
(Solo except where otherwise stated)
In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Philip Olleson writes that Potter's most productive period as a composer was between his return to Britain 1819 and 1837 after which he produced hardly any music. Olleson comments that although in the list of Potter's works those for solo piano greatly outnumber his other compositions, it is the nine surviving symphonies that are the most important, and show "many effective touches of orchestration and a good deal of counterpoint and imitation". In the article on Potter in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Philip Peter and Julian Rushton express regret that Potter gave up composing, and consider some of his works "masterly": they instance "at least half a dozen of the symphonies", the G major String Quartet, the Sextet for flute, clarinet, viola, cello, double bass and piano and the three overtures to plays by Shakespeare.
The music writer Lewis Foreman comments that Potter's was the first body of symphonic works by a British composer. In Foreman's view, the symphonies are, for their time, ambitious in their use of the orchestra, showing the influence of early Beethoven, and reminiscent of Schubert's symphonies although the latter were completely unknown in Britain at the time.