The German composer, arranger, violinst/violist and teacher, Friedrich Valentin Hermann, entered the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig (from 1876-1924 known as the Royal Conservatory of Music and today known as the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Hochschule for Music and Theatre) in November 1843, and became a violin student of Ferdinand David. He also studied there composition with Moritz Hauptmann, Niels Wilhelm Gade and Felix Mendelssohn himself. The Conservatory, the oldest in Germany, was founded in 1843 by F. Mendelssohn and M. Hauptmann, so Hermann was one of the first students of this illustrious institution. David, one of the foremost violinists of the time, later wrote that Hermann had worked diligently and with “good conduct” and that he deserved “the highest praise”. Though Hermann studied the violin and most of his editing work involved the violin, he was also an excellent violist. In
After graduating Friedrich Hermann obtained in 1846 the position of principal violist of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and he also played in various theatre orchestras. In 1847, at the age of 19, he started teaching at the Leipzig Conservatory, where in 1848 he was appointed Professor of Violin (one of the first of its students to become a professor), and he remained at the Conservatory until his death. Besides his work with the Conservatory and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Hermann was a member of the Gewandhaus Quartet. In 1878, in order to devote himself to teaching, composing, and editing, he resigned all appointments except the Conservatory. He was named Royal Saxon Professor in 1883.
Friedrich Hermann was present at the creation of one of the great European music institutions, the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig. David and F. Mendelssohn both had connections to the older French violin school of Kreutzer, Viotti and Rode, and Hermann showed the greatest respect for this school by editing numerous French school works. Violin students will remember Hermann as the editor of many violin works published by for both Peters and Augener Editions. His work as an editor is well known and includes compositions by Tartini, Haydn, Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, F. Mendelssohn, Schubert, as well as those by the famous violinists such as Kreutzer, Bériot and Rode and many more, and his cadenzas for some of these works are quite inventive. He also wrote a violin manual.
In addition to his work as an editor, Friedrich Hermann was a prolific arranger and composer. He composed a symphony, a quartet for wind instruments, and several other chamber music works, which clearly shows his affinity with the new emerging romantic virtuoso style that was part and parcel of 19th century string playing. As befits a lifelong teacher, perhaps the best known of his works are his Violin School and his studies. His music is always well-constructed, and displays an affinity for the early Romanticism of the 19th century. His great clarity of texture is reminiscent of his great teacher F. Mendelssohn.
The Chamber Music Journal wrote about the String Quartet: “Friedrich Hermann's String Quartet in e minor, Op.8 was composed during the 1850's, not long after Mendelssohn's death, who at the time had been considered the greatest composer since Beethoveb. Hence, it is hardly surprising that the compositions of a recent student of Mendelssohn should show the influence of that master…” According to a contemporary “in 1852 a symphony of his composition was executed at the Gewandhaus concerts with great success”.