(b Vienna, 1746; d Meidling, 8 June 1796). Austrian composer. He began his career as a viola player in Vienna theatres. As Kapellmeister for Joseph II's new ‘German National Singspiel’, he was commissioned in 1778 to write the opening work. Die Bergknappen (1778) is based on a romantic tale set in a mining community, and includes some striking individual numbers. Carefully matched to the theatre's vocal resources and the audience's expectations, with its mixture of German, French, and Italian elements it succeeded in its aim of giving the new enterprise a popular start. Umlauf followed it with Die schöne Schusterinn (‘The Shoemaker's Beautiful Wife’, 1779), a lively, relaxed French-inspired comedy, and Das Irrlicht (‘The Will-o-the-Wisp’, 1782), in which adumbrations of Romantic themes include the contact between human and spirit worlds and redemption through love. Mozart was sufficiently jealous of Umlauf's success to make disparaging remarks about one of his weakest works, Welche ist die beste Nation? (1782). His son Michael Umlauf (b Vienna, 9 Aug. 1781; d Baden, 20 June 1842) was a conductor and composer who became a violinist and conductor in the Vienna court orchestra. Much respected by Beethoven, he conducted the 1814 revival of Fidelio and premieres of other works by Beethoven, including the Ninth Symphony.
From The Oxford Companion to Music in Oxford Reference.