Ignaz Pleyel (June 18, 1757?November 14, 1831) was an Austrian composer of the Classical music era. Pleyel is one instance of the phenomenon of a composer (others include Cherubini, Meyerbeer, and Thalberg) who was very famous in his own time but presently obscure. According to some, during the brief period between Joseph Haydn's prime and the rise to fame of Beethoven, Pleyel was the most celebrated composer in Europe.
His fame even reached the then-remote musical regions of America: there was a Pleyel Society on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts, and tunes by Pleyel made their way into the then-popular shape note hymnals. (Pleyel is in fact the only classical composer represented in the principal modern descendant of these books, The Sacred Harp.)
Like his teacher Haydn, Pleyel was prolific, composing 41 symphonies, 70 string quartets and several string quintets and operas. Many of these works date from the Strasbourg period; Pleyel's production tailed off after he had become a businessman.
Recent scholarship has suggested that the theme for the Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, by Johannes Brahms, opus 56a, was probably composed not by Haydn but by Ignaz Pleyel.
Pleyel continues to be known today a composer of didactic music: generations of beginning violin and flute students, for example, learn to play the numerous duets he wrote for those instruments.
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