Friedrich von Flotow

Portrait of Friedrich von Flotow

Friedrich von Flotow was a German composer of theatrical music chiefly remembered today for his opera “Martha”. He was born on 27th April 1812 in Mecklenburg, Germany and died on 24th January 1883 in Darmstadt, Germany aged 70.

Major Works

“Lady Henriette ou “La Servante de Greenwich” (Lady Henriette or the Servant of Greenwich) (1844)
“Martha” (1847)
“Die Libelle” (The Dragonfly) (1856)
“Die Gruppe der Thetis” (The Thetis Group) (1858)
“Der Tannkönig, ein Weihnachtsmärchen (The Dark King a Christmas Fairy Tale) (1861)

Biography Timeline

Friedrich von Flotow was born on 27th April 27 1812 in Teutendorf, near Lübeck, French Empire (now Germany). His family were minor aristocrats and his father wanted him to become a diplomat. 

1828: His father gives in to his son’s wish to study music and at the age of sixteen he is enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire under Anton Reicha. His teaching is heavily influenced by the works of Daniel Auber, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Gaetano Donizzetti, Fromental Halevy, Charles Gounod and Jacques Offenbach

1830: He is forced to leave Paris during the fighting in the July Revolution but returns during the following year. 

1835: He completes his first opera “Pierre et Cathérine”.

1837: He produces the early version of “Alessandro Stradella” which, in its completed form becomes very successful in 1844.

1839: He collaborates with Albert Grisar and Auguste Pilati on “Le Naufrage de la Méduse” (The Wreck of the Medusa) which brings his name before a wider audience.

1844: He composes the first act of “Lady Henriette ou “La servante de Greenwich” which is premiered on 21st February at the Paris Opera. (the second act is by Friedrich Burgmuller and the third by Edouard Deldevez).

1847: His opera “Martha” is premiered on 25th November at the Theater am Karntnertor in Vienna and performed in German. It becomes his most famous work.

1848: The 1848 Revolution again drives him out of Paris.  

1855: He becomes Director of the Court Theatre at Schwerin in northern Germany and writes several ballet pieces for them.

1856: He composes “Die Libelle”.

1858: He composes “Die Gruppe der Thetis” which is premiered on 18th August in Schwerin.

1861: He composes “Der Tannkönig, ein Weihnachtsmärchen” (The Dark King, a Christmas fairy tale) which is premiered on 22nd December in Schwerin.

1862: He gives up his post in Schwerin.

1863: He spends his time living in either Paris or Vienna and sees his operas performed in St Petersburg, Russia and Turin, Italy.

Friedrich von Flotow died on 24th January 1883 in Darmstadt, Germany. He was buried in the Alten Friedhof (Old Cemetery) in Darmstadt, Germany.

Further Information

List of works by Flotow.