Joachim Raff (1822–1882)

Joachim Raff was one of the most sought-after composers in the German-speaking world during his lifetime. He developed his creative work in the close environment of both the "New German School" around Liszt and the "Traditionalists" around Brahms.

His compositional output is diverse and includes symphonies, operas, sonatas, instrumental concertos, overtures as well as suites and chamber music.
On the recommendation of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Breitkopf & Härtel published Raff's first piano works as early as 1844.

The composer and music educator Joseph Joachim Raff was born in Lachen, Switzerland, on May 27, 1822. After four years of school service as a primary school teacher in Rapperswil and self-taught training in piano, organ, and violin playing, he decided to pursue a career as a musician. In the years that followed, Raff worked in the music trade and publishing, among other things. Franz Liszt hired him as an assistant in 1850, after which Raff moved to Weimar. Six years later he followed his wife Doris Raff (née Genast) to Wiesbaden.

The Wiesbaden years are considered the most productive period of his compositional output, and his increasing success enabled him to work as a freelance composer from 1870.

In 1877, Raff was appointed founding director of Hoch's Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main, which opened a year later. Among the most famous teachers Raff engaged, there were Clara Schumann and Julius Stockhausen.

On the night of June 25, 1882, Raff died of a heart attack in his Frankfurt apartment at the age of 60.

In 2022, we celebrate Raff's 200th birthday.

Photo © by August Weger | Stich nach einer Fotografie aus den 1870er-Jahren (Joachim-Raff-Archiv/Sammlung Marty)