The German learned musician and author, Adolf-Bernhard Marx, son of a physician, learned harmony from Türk, studied law, and held a legal post at Naumburg.
Adolf-Bernhard Marx' love of music led him to Berlin, where he soon gave up the law, and in 1824 he founded, with Schlesinger the publisher, the Berliner Allgemeine Musikaliscsh Zeitung. This periodical, which only existed seven years, did important service in creating a juster appreciation of L.v. Beethoven's works in North Germany, a service to which L.v. Beethoven characteristically refers in a letter to Schlesinger, September 25, 1825. His book on the same subject, however, Beethovens Leben und Schaffen (Berlin, 1859; 2nd edition, 1865; 5th, 1901), is a fantastic critique, too full of mere conjecture and misty aestheticism. In 1827 he received his doctor's diploma from the University of Marburg, and was made 'Docent,' or tutor, in the history and theory of music, at the University of Berlin. He became professor in 1830, and in 1832 Musikdirector of the university choir. In 1850 he founded with Kullak and Stern the 'Berliner Musikschule,' afterwards the 'Berliner Conservatorium,' and now the 'Sternsehe Conservatorium,' but withdrew in 1856 (Kullak having resigned in 1855), and henceforth devoted himself to his private pupils and to his work at the University.
Adolf-Bernhard Marx' numerous works are of unequal merit, the most important being the Lehre von der musikalischen Composition, four volumes (Breitkopf & Härtel, 1837, 1838, 1847). His Gluck und die Oper (Berlin, two volumes, 1863) contains many ingenious observations, but is of no historical value. The others are Über Malerei in der Tonkunst (1828), Über die Geltung Häindelschen Sologesänge, etc. (1829), Allgemeine Musiklehre (1839), Die alte Musiklehre (1842), Die Musik des 19. Jahrhundert, ete. (1855), Anleitung zum Vortrag Beethovenschen Klavierwerke (1863), Erinnerungen (1865), and a posthumous work, Das Ideale und die Gegenwart (1867). Besides what he did for L.v. Beethoven's music, Marx deserves credit for bringing to light many little-known works of J.S. Bach and Georg Frideric Handel.
Adolf-Bernhard Marx' compositions are not remarkable; neither his oratorios Johannes der Taufer, Moses and Nahid und Omar, nor his instrulmental music, obtaining more than a 'Succès d'estime.' His opera, Jery und Bätely, was performed in Berlin in 1827, and a melodram, Die Rache wartet, in 1829. Nevertheless some particulars given in his Erinnerungen (Berlin, 1865) as to his manner of composing are well worth reading, as indeed is the whole book for its interesting picture of the state of music in Berlin between 1830 and 1860. With Felix Mendelssohn he was at one time extremely intimate, and no doubt was in many respects useful to him; but his influence diminished as F. Mendelssohn grew older and more independent.