Biography of Mayr Johann Simon:
Johann Simon Mayr was born in Mendorf near Altmannstein close to Ingolstadt in 1763. He received his first music lessons from his father who worked as an organist and a school teacher in Mendorf. Mayr completed his further education at the Benedictine monastery of Weltenburg. In 1773 the young Mayr came to Ingolstadt. He had received a scholarship from the Jesuit theological college and in 1777 he enrolled at the Bavarian State University. In addition, he acted as an organist in various churches. In the year 1787 Simon Mayr found an open-minded patron with the Baron Thomas von Bassus, who, next to Weishaupt, belonged to the founders of the illumination order. Von Bassus, whose family still owns Sandersdorf Castle today, realised Simon Mayr’s musical talent and sent for him in order to employ him as a music teacher at Sandersdorf Castle. With the help of the Baron, Simon Mayr attained educational stays in Bergamo and Venice. His rapid opera career began in Venice. In 1803 Simon Mayr was finally elected Maestro di Capella at the basilica S. Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, an office that, despite enticing offers, he held to the end of his life. With his indefatigable work he founded the musical life of the town anew. His work comprises approximately 80 operas, symphonies, chamber music and about 600 pieces of sacred music. Only a fraction of his compositions is in print today. Simon Mayr, a contemporary of Haydn, Beethoven and Rossini, was one of the most famous opera composers at the beginning of the 19th century. Centres like Rome, Milan, London, Paris, Vienna or Lisbon performed his works. He is regarded as "the father of the Italian opera". His most famous disciple was Gaetano Donizetti.
SIMON MAYR AND INGOLSTADT
The city of Ingolstadt considers it it’s task to make Simon Mayr and his works, accessible for the present cultural life again. Thus, in 1998, the department of culture decided in favour of a production of Mayr’s comic opera Che Originali!, which was performed at the Ingolstadt theatre and at Sandersdorf Castle. In 1995 an international Simon Mayr Society was founded in Ingolstadt. It is designed to make the composer known to the general public, it supports and initiates performances of his musical works and keeps up a cultural exchange with other Mayr sites like Bergamo and Altmannstein. Moreover, it supports the scientific research and the editing of his works.
SIMON MAYR AND VENICE
After his first stay in Venice in 1786, Mayr studied with Ferdinando Bertoni, the director of music at San Marco from about 1790 onwards. In the following years several oratorios and cantatas came into being, which, apart from his songs, made Mayr’s name a famous one. Mayr composed his first opera in 1796 for la Fenice: Lodoiska. Additional commissions for operas followed during the following years; Mayr composed six operas in 1798 alone, among them Che Originali!, one of his most successful comic operas.