I Heard You Singing Eric Coates
In celebration of Father's Day, we're taking a look at famous father figures in the world of classical music. While many parents were supportive teachers, not all the great composers' fathers were all that keen on their choice of profession...
Nine-times Oscar winner Alfred Newman founded a film scoring dynasty, that includes his sons Thomas and David, daughter Maria, brothers Lionel and Emil, nephew Randy. Alfred was “a giant in character, a titan in of the world he loved and dominated. He was a true musical force.”
While many composers' parents were verging on pushy, Handel's father wasn't all that keen on music. He was so keen for his son to study law that he initially banned him from playing instruments altogether.
It's not just Bach's children who were musically gifted. His father, also called Johann, was a court trumpeter and director of the town musicians. His talent was clearly genetic: of his eight children, four became musicians, including the great Johann Sebastian.
A man of many talents, Giovanni was a barber before becoming a professional violinist. He taught the young Antonio to play the violin to a virtuosic standard, and even toured Venice with him.
Mozart's father (pictured on the right) was a virtuosic violinist in his own right, playing professionally in the court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. He taught both his children, Wolfgang and Nannerl, and made a name for the family as touring musicians. His violin book, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, was highly influential in its day.
Johann was a German musician, teacher, and singer, but is best known as the father of the man who changed music forever, Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in 1770. He was the young composer's first music teacher, but relied heavily on alcohol, and took out his violent temper on Beethoven when his playing wasn't up to scratch.
Franz Theodor, not to be confused with his son Franz Peter, wasn't an accomplished musician. He was, however, a well-respected schoolmaster, and taught his son at his school in Vienna. Franz the elder taught the young composer the basics of the violin, while he learned the piano from his brother, but by the age of seven, Schubert needed more comprehensive musical instruction, so learned from the local organist, Michael Holzer.
Chopin's father, Nicolas, was a Frenchman who migrated to Poland when he was 16, in 1787. He worked as a French teacher, and adopted the Polish form of his name, Mikołaj.
Adam played the cello and piano, and started teaching his son Franz when he was seven years old. He continued to influence the young Liszt's musical development until his death in 1827, when Liszt was just 16.
Wagner's biological father, Carl Friedrich, died just six months after the composer was born. His mother Johanna began living with Carl's friend Ludwig Geyer, and he became Wagner's stepfather.
The head of a large family, Ilya (pictured right) worked as an engineer and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Department of Mines. It's not known whether he was supportive of his young son's musical talent - although he paid for piano lessons for the boy, he enrolled him in law school from the age of 10 in the hope his son might be more financially secure.
This famous composer responsible for writing the Radetzky March, is also the father of Johann Strauss II, the king of light music and operettas. Despite Strauss the elder's musical background, he wanted his son to become a banker, and gave him a whipping when he discovered him practising the violin in secret.
Grieg's musical skills might have been passed down from his mother's side. His father Alexander was a merchant and vice consul, whereas his mother Gesine was a music teacher, and taught her young son the piano.
Bernhard Mahler, the son of a street pedlar, was a coachman and innkeeper. He noticed the young Mahler's musical talents, encouraging him to audition for the Vienna Conservatory, and supporting him when his academic results slipped.
Debussy's father owned a china shop, and also a travelling salesman, a printer's assistant, and a clerk. His young son took violin lessons from an early age, paid for by his aunt.