Life and career
Born in London, the son of a piano teacher named Richard Huddleston Potter, Cipriani was named after his godmother (a sister of Giovanni Battista Cipriani). His father began his musical instruction, which was continued by Thomas Attwood, William Crotch and Joseph Wölfl. In 1816 an overture by him was performed at a Philharmonic concert. Frustrated by a lack of opportunities in England, Potter went to Vienna in 1817, where he met Beethoven who advised him to study with Aloys Förster. Returning to England in 1819, Potter became a central figure in London concert life as both a pianist and conductor, playing piano in the British premiere of several Mozart piano concertos and Beethoven's 1st, 3rd and 4th piano concertos, as well as conducting the British premiere of Mendelssohn's G minor piano concerto with the composer at the piano.
In 1822, Potter began teaching at the Royal Academy of Music, first piano and later conducting the orchestra. In 1832 he became Principal of the Royal Academy, resigning in 1859. His students there included William Sterndale Bennett and Joseph Barnby. As Potter focused more on his educational work and preparing editions of Mozart and Beethoven keyboard music, he composed less and less often. There are few works written after 1837. He did, however, maintain a keen interest in new music from the continent. In 1871, he gave the first British rendition of Brahms's German Requiem, performing a piano duet version with pianist Kate Loder. This became known as the "London Version" (German: Londoner Fassnung) of the work.
There are nine extant symphonies, although the composer's numbering tells us he wrote ten. The tenth symphony in G minor was praised by Richard Wagner during his time as conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Society. He also wrote four piano concerti, some chamber music and several piano solo pieces. His instrumental music displays the continental inheritance of his teachers in its use of instrumental forms such as sonata form. Aside from a cantata and a handful of songs, Potter composed no vocal music. Potter also wrote a couple of articles for periodicals about music, one of them about his visit to Beethoven.
Potter owned a 1683 Stradivarius violin, named after him the Cipriani Potter.
Compositions (selective list)
- Overture in E minor (1815, revised 1848)
- Symphony [No. 1] in G minor (1819, revised 1824-26) [unnumbered by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 2] in B flat major (1821, revised 1839) [unnumbered by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 3] in C minor (1826) [styled No. 6 by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 4] in F major (1826) [styled No. 7 by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 5] in E flat major (1828, revised with replacement slow movement 1846) [styled No. 8 by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 6] in G minor (1832) [styled both No. 10 and No. 2 by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 7] in D major (1833) [styled No. 2 by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 8] in C minor (1834) [unnumbered by the composer]
- Symphony [No. 9] in D major (1834) [styled No. 4 by the composer]
- Antony and Cleopatra, overture (1835)
- Cymbeline, overture (1836)
- The Tempest, overture (1837)
- Introduction and rondo alla militaire for piano and orchestra (1827)
- Duo concertante for piano, violin and orchestra (1827)
- Concertante for violin, cello, double bass, piano and orchestra on Les folies d'Espagne
- Bravura Variations on a theme by Rossini for piano and orchestra (1829)
- Ricercata on a favourite French theme for piano and orchestra (1830)
- Piano Concerto in D minor (1832)
- Piano Concerto in E flat (1833)
- Piano Concerto in E (1835)
Vocal and choral
- Medora e Corrado, cantata (1829–30)
There are few works of Potter available on CD:
- Symphony Nr. 7 in F Dur (Czech Chamber PO, Douglas Bostock), Label: Classico, 2005
- Symphonies 8 & 10 (Milton Keynes City Orchestra), 1993.
- Musgrave, Michael (1987). Brahms 2: Biographical, Documentary, and Analytical Studies 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-521-32606-0.
- "Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 (London version).". Gramophone (Haymarket): 92. 1997. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Philip H. Peter/Julian Rushton, Philip Cipriani Potter in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians edited by Stanley Sadie, volume 20, pages 221–223
- British Musical Biography: A Dictionary of Musical Artists, Authors and Composers, born in Britain and its Colonies, 2009 (Cambridge Library Collection - Music) by James Duff Brown and Stephen S. Stratton / Cambridge University Press