Haack [Haacke, Haak, Haake], Friedrich Wilhelm

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Horn, Charles Edward

(b London, 21 June 1786; d Boston, 21 Oct 1849). English composer and singer of German parentage. He was taught music by his father, the composer Karl Friedrich Horn, and Venanzio Rauzzini, and began his performing career as a double bass and cello player in the London theatres; as a singer he first appeared on the stage on 26 June 1809, in Matthew King's opera Up All Night at the Lyceum Theatre. He studied singing with Thomas Welsh. He became known especially for his performances as Macheath, Artabanes (in Arne's Artaxerxes) and Caspar (in an English version of Der Freischütz in which the part was rewritten as a high baritone).

As a composer Horn was excelled in productivity only by his exact contemporary, Henry Bishop; and like Bishop he had several successes with songs which were originally introduced in dramatic pieces, notably ‘On the banks of Allen Water’ in Rich and Poor (1812), ‘I know a bank’ in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1823), ‘The deep, deep sea’ in Honest Frauds (1830) and, above all, ‘Cherry Ripe’, apparently first sung by Lucia Vestris in Paul Pry (1826), an opera with which Horn was not otherwise connected. He was accused of plagiarizing the last from Attwood, but cleared himself in court – according to one story by singing Attwood's song and his own to the jury.

In 1827 Horn sailed to New York, where he appeared in Storace's The Siege of Belgrade on 20 July. He directed his own opera The Devil's Bridge (already known in New York since 1820) on 22 December, and adapted Le nozze di Figaro and other works for the American stage. He was back in London in 1830 for the production of Honest Frauds on 29 July, and in 1831–2 was musical director at the Olympic Theatre. Returning to New York in 1832, he became musical director at the Park Theatre, where he conducted operas from the piano, adapted La Cenerentola and Die Zauberflöte and introduced several English operas with marked success. He lost his voice through an illness in 1835, but continued to compose and to play the piano and organ in public, and to give lessons in singing. In 1837 he went into partnership with W.J. Davis as a music publisher. After a year Davis withdrew, and Horn's Music Store at 411 Broadway prospered for several years. In 1839 he conducted a series of ‘soirées musicales’ in New York, and in 1842 he participated in the founding of the New York Philharmonic Society. Several of his operas were first performed in New York. His oratorio The Remission of Sin, performed at the New York Sacred Music Society on 7 May 1835, the first oratorio composed in the USA, greatly enhanced his reputation. It has been said that he was the first composer with a substantial reputation in the Old World who went to live in America.

In 1843 Horn returned once more to England, where his oratorio, revised under the title Satan, was performed by the Melophonic Society on 18 March 1845. For a time he was musical director at the Princess's Theatre, but in 1847 he returned to the USA, where on 23 July he was elected conductor of the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston. It is doubtful whether he returned to England again in 1848, as stated in Grove's Dictionary (5th edition) and elsewhere; Boston was his home for the last two years of his life. Horn was twice married, first to a Miss Rae, then to Maria Horton (d 1887), a sister of the singer Priscilla Horton (wife of Thomas German Reed). A son, Charles Edward Horn jr, was a tenor.

Horn's dramatic pieces cannot be taken seriously as operas: typically, they consist of a perfunctory overture, a string of a dozen independent songs with perhaps a duet and a glee, and a finale in one rondo movement. Most of the music is poor, but occasionally one or two of the songs are found to possess great charm, such as ‘Cherry Ripe’, in his favourite rondo form with coda. Rich and Poor (1812) is an astounding example of tasteless eclecticism. The overture incorporates the entire fugue in E from book 2 of the ‘48’ (which Horn’s father had recently edited with Samuel Wesley), interspersed with Horn’s less than sublime improvisations on the same subject. One song is lifted from Mozart (k596), another is based on All through the night, a third is a medley of Italian operatic songs and English folktunes; and the finale is an instrumental version of Adeste fideles; yet the same work contains one of his most charming songs, ‘On the banks of Allen Water’. He had a gift for incorporating and imitating elements of folksong (or, as it was termed in his day, ‘national song’), and it was this that gave many of his songs their appeal. In the USA he was quick to adopt local colour, most successfully in National Melodies of America (1839), which make use of black melodies as well as street songs of New York.

In his more ambitious efforts at composition Horn was unsuccessful. Dirce is now believed to have been the first all-sung English opera since Artaxerxes (1762); only one number from it has survived. His one attempt at ‘grand opera’, Ahmed al Ramel (1840), has not survived, nor has The Remission of Sin, apart from one short chorus. His second oratorio, Daniel's Prediction, reveals the inadequacy of his technique for large-scale composition; the contrapuntal choruses are painfully lacking in any sense of development, and the songs, in their ‘sacred’ tone, lack the freshness of his best work. There is no evidence of Mendelssohn's influence, presumably because of Horn's prolonged absence from England; the basis of the style is Mozartian. The orchestration is skilful, reflecting the composer's long experience in the theatre.



first performed in London unless otherwise stated; music lost unless otherwise stated; all printed works published in city and year of first performance


Drury Lane


Lyceum (English Opera House)


Vauxhall Gardens

partly adapted


wholly adapted

Tricks upon Travellers (comic op, J.B. Burges), LLY, 9 July 1810; collab. Reeve

The Magic Bride (dramatic romance, L. St G. Skeffington), LLY, 26 Dec 1810

The Bee Hive (musical farce, 2, J.G. Millingen, after C.A.G. Pigault-Lebrun), LLY, 19 Jan 1811, vs pubd

The Boarding House, or Five Hours at Brighton (musical farce, S. Beazley the younger), LLY, 26 Aug 1811, vs pubd

M.P., or The Blue Stocking (comic op, 3, T. Moore), LLY, 9 Sept 1811, vs pubd; collab. M.P. King

The Devil's Bridge (operatic romance, 3, S.J. Arnold), LLY, 6 May 1812, GB-Lcm, vs pubd; collab. J. Braham, M.P. Corri

†Rich and Poor (comic op, M.G. Lewis), LLY, 22 July 1812, D-Ha, vs pubd

Godolphin, the Lion of the North (play, 5, B. Thompson), LDL, 12 Oct 1813

Narensky, or The Road to Yaroslaf (seriocomic op, 3, C.A. Brown), LDL, 11 Jan 1814; collab. Braham, Reeve

†The Woodman's Hut (melodramatic romance, 3, Arnold), LDL, 12 April 1814, vs pubd

The Ninth Statue, or The Irishman in Bagdad (musical romance, 2, after The Thousand and One Nights), LDL, 29 Nov 1814

Charles the Bold, or The Siege of Nantz (historical drama, 3, Arnold, from Fr.), LDL, 15 June 1815

The Election (op, Arnold, after J. Baillie), LLY, 7 June 1817

The Wizard, or The Brown Man of the Moor (melodramatic romance, Arnold, after W. Scott: The Black Dwarf), LLY, 26 July 1817

The Persian Hunters, or The Rose of Gurgistan (seriocomic op, T. Noble), LLY, 13 Aug 1817, vs pubd [ov. by G.F. Perry]

Lalla Rookh, or The Cashmerian Minstrel (M.J. Sullivan, after T. Moore), Dublin, Royal, ?1818, vs pubd

Justice, or The Caliph and the Cobbler (musical drama, 3, J.S. Faucit), LDL, 28 Nov 1820

Therese, the Orphan of Geneva (melodrama, J.H. Payne), LDL, 2 Feb 1821

Dirce, or The Fatal Urn (serious recitative drama, after P. Metastasio: Demofoonte), LDL, 2 June 1821, 1 duet pubd

†Annette, Dublin, Royal, 1822; ? after Rossini: La gazza ladra

The Two Galley-Slaves, or The Mill of St Aldervon (melodrama, Payne), CG, 6 Nov 1822; collab. T.S. Cooke

Actors al fresco (burletta, W.T. Moncrieff), LVG, 1823, only lib pubd; collab. Blewitt, Cooke; rev. as vaudeville, LVG, 9 June 1827

Philandering, or The Rose Queen (comic op, Beazley), LDL, 13 Jan 1824; collab. Braham

The Shepherd of Derwent Vale, or The Innocent Culprit (musical drama, J. Lunn), LDL, 12 Feb 1825

Faustus (romantic drama, 3, D. Terry, G. Soane, after J.W. von Goethe), LDL, 16 May 1825, vs pubd; collab. H.R. Bishop, Cooke; ov. from Weber's Euryanthe

The Wedding Present (comic op, 2, ? J. Kenney), LDL, 28 Oct 1825

Benyowsky, or The Exiles of Kamschatka (operatic play, 3, Kenney, after A. von Kotzebue), LDL, 16 March 1826; collab. Cooke, M. Kelly, B. Livius, Stevenson

The Death Fetch, or The Student of Göttingen (operatic romance, J.B. Buckstone), LLY, 25 July 1826

Peveril of the Peak (musical drama, I. Pocock, after W. Scott), CG, 21 Oct 1826, US-Bp, vs pubd

Pay to my Order, or A Chaste Salute (vaudeville, J.R. Planché and W.H. Armstrong), LVG, 9 July 1827

††The Marriage of Figaro, New York, Park, 21 Jan 1828; after Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

††Dido, New York, Park, 9 April 1828; after various Rossini operas

††Isidore de Merida, New York, Park, 9 June 1828; after Storace: The Pirates

††Oberon, New York, Park, 9 Oct 1828; after Weber's opera

The Quartette, or Interrupted Harmony (1), New York, Bowery, 27 April 1829

†Il trionfo della musica, Philadelphia, Chestnut Street, 5 May 1829; after Mayr: Che originali; in Italian

Honest Frauds (musical farce, 2, Lunn), Little Theatre, Haymarket, 29 July 1830

†The Love Spell, or The Flirts of the Village (comic op), Olympic, 27 Oct 1831; after Auber: Le philtre

††Cinderella, New York, Park, 20 Dec 1832; after Rossini: La Cenerentola

Nadir and Zuleika, New York, Park, 27 Dec 1832

††The Magic Flute, New York, Park, 17 April 1833; after Mozart: Die Zauberflöte

Ahmed al Ramel, or The Pilgrim of Love (grand op, H.J. Finn, after W. Irving: Alhambra), New York, National, 12 Oct 1840

The Maid of Saxony (op, 3, G.P. Morris, after M. Edgeworth), New York, Park, 23 May 1842

Music in: The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1824


The Remission of Sin (orat, after J. Milton), New York, Sacred Music Society, 7 May 1835; rev. as Satan, London, Melophonic Society, 18 March 1845

The Christmas Bells (cant., J.W. Brown), vs (London, 1844)

Daniel's Prediction (orat, C.H. Purday), London, 19 May 1847, GB-Lbl, vs (London, 1847)


Ode to Washington, 4vv (New York, 1828); Ode to Music, 4vv (New York, 1839)

48 glees and trios, 16 listed in Baptie

Songs, many listed in Montague, incl. collections: Songs of the Fairies (London, 1831), Shakespeare's Seven Ages (New York, c1835), National Melodies of America (New York, 1839), Six Popular Songs (New York, 1839)



The Examiner (10 May 1812) [The Devil's Bridge]

New York Mirror (6 Oct 1827, 14 Aug 1830, 22 Dec 1832, 14 March 1835, 16 Oct 1841)

American Musical Journal, i (1834–5), 45, 238

Monthly Supplement to the Musical Library, iii (1835–6), 23

Musical World, xx (1845), 141 only [The Fall of Satan]; xxi (1846), 534 only [The Prophecy of David]; xxii (1847), 368 only [Daniel's Prediction]; xxiv (1849), 741–2 [obituary]

D. Baptie: Sketches of the Glee Composers (London, 1896), 114–15

H.C. Lahee: Annals of Music in America (Boston, 1922/R)

E.W. White: The Rise of English Opera (London, 1951/R)

G. Chase: America's Music (New York, 1955, 3/1987), 164, 172

R.A. Montague: Charles Edward Horn: his Life and Works (diss., Florida State U., 1959)

J. Mattfeld: A Handbook of American Operatic Premieres 1731–1962 (Detroit, 1963)

B. Carr: ‘The First All-Sung English Opera’, MT, cxv (1974), 125–6


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