John Field

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

« Fergus MacRoigh | Index | James Finaghty »

Field, John, a distinguished pianist, was born in Dublin, 26th July 1782. His father was a violinist in a theatre; from his grandfather, an organist, he received his first lessons on the piano; these he perfected under Clementi, after his family removed to London. Field accompanied his master on a Continental tour in 1802, and left a lasting impression in Paris by his performances, especially his rendering of the fugues of Bach. Master and pupil arrived in St. Petersburg towards the close of 1803, and found so many admirers that Field remained behind to push his fortune. He received large sums for playing at concerts and giving lessons. He was, however, incurably lazy and addicted to drink, and thereby lost the opportunities afforded him of amassing a fortune. In 1822 he removed to Moscow, and there established himself with even greater honour and profit than attended his nineteen years' residence in St. Petersburg.

In 1831 he revisited England, and performed in London; then he travelled through France, the Netherlands, and on to Italy, giving concerts with his usual success. Illness induced by dissipation compelled him to seek shelter in a Neapolitan hospital, where he remained several months, until rescued by a Russian family, who brought him back to Moscow. There he ended his days in indigence, 11th January 1837, aged 54. Field had married a French pianiste, Mdlle. Charpentier, by whom he had one son, who became a distinguished Russian tenor — Leonoff. Field's musical abilities were of the highest order, and his published works were numerous. He is said to have been the originator of those pieces called "nocturnes."

Sources

39. Biographical Dictionary, Imperial: Edited by John F. Waller. 3 vols. London, N.D.

250. Musiciens, Biographie Universelle des: F. J. Fetis. 8 vols. Paris, 1860-'5.

« Fergus MacRoigh | Index | James Finaghty »