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Johann d'Alquen

Johann Peter Cornelius d'Alquen was born on 18 September 1800 at the Schloss Wasserlos in Alzenau (Germany) as the eldest son of totally six children. His mother Helene (nee Upags) was the sister of the marchioness Josepha du Chasteler, who lived at Schloss Wasserlos. The father Franz Dalcken worked as a lawyer for the Elector of Mayence. So the young Johann d'Alquen was born into a wealthy family. Due to the changeful political times the family have to move to Werl, later Arnsberg. In Arnsberg Johann d'Alquen went to the Gymnasium and graduated successfully in 1817.

Johann d'Alquen then started medical studies. He visited a preparatory course in Münster and started to study medicine in Gießen in 1818. In 1821 he moved to Berlin and graduated with a doctoral thesis about uterine cancer. In addition to his medical studies Johann d'Alquen also studied music in Berlin under Carl Friedrich Zelter (composition) and Bernhard Klein (harmony, counterpoint).

In 1823 Johann d'Alquen moved back his family in Arnsberg and first focused on music. In that year he composed a collection of more than 200 songs. A year later he finally moved to Mülheim to establish his own medical practice. The following decades Johann d'Alquen worked as a doctor in Mülheim, published several articles about specific desease patterns and was finally appointed Counsellor of Health by King William I. of Prussia.

Beside his professional activities Johann d'Alquen was broadly interested in topics like botany, optics, lyric poetry, fishing, but his main passion was music. He composed many songs, but also choral works, a piano sonata, a string quartet and a symphony.

It is little known about his compositions nowadays because Johann d'Alquen was uncomfortable with the fact that his name appeared on the score of a composition. Maybe he felt that a doctor should not be connected to music compositions. But it is known that d'Alquen's songs were popular in the 19th century and - due to a missing composer - often as cultural tradition.
Johann d'Alquen died on 27 November 1863 in Mülheim (Germany).


In my possession is an autograph manuscript of the work "Die Lehen von Sankt Goar" for men's chorus. The work was composed in 1847 on a text by Wilhelm von Waldbrühl which is the pseudonym of Anton Wilhelm von Zuccalmaglio (1803-1869), a German regional writer. Zuccalmaglio and Johann d'Alquen met the first time when Johann d'Alquen moved to Mülheim in 1824 and they became very close and lifelong friends.
The choral work "Die Lehen von Sankt Goar" was first performed on 27 June 1847 at the first singing festival of the Bergischer Sängerbund in Lennep. The "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik" wrote about the performance: "The composition is written in the manner of Mozart and was performed precisely and brilliantly without any instrumental accompaniment. This work won the favour with the audience at the innermost and most enthusiastic way and it is clear that this composition will be performed in the complete German fatherland within short time and will thrill the audiences."

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