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Friedrich Kuhlau (11 September 1786 – 12 March 1832) was a Danish composer and pianist of the late Classical and early Romantic periods. He is best known for his piano music, particularly his sonatas and sonatinas, which are considered to be among the finest of the early Romantic period.
Kuhlau was born in Uelzen, Germany, to a family of musicians. He lost his right eye at the age of seven, but this did not prevent him from pursuing a career in music. He studied piano with C. F. G. Schwencke in Hamburg, and later with Johann Nepomuk Hummel in Vienna.
In 1810, Kuhlau moved to Copenhagen, where he became a professor of music at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. He also gave concerts and composed prolifically. His output includes over 200 works, including operas, ballets, symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and piano music.
Kuhlau's music is characterized by its lyricism, its melodic beauty, and its technical virtuosity. He was a master of the keyboard, and his piano music is some of the most challenging and rewarding of the early Romantic period. Kuhlau's music was influential on many later composers, including Niels Gade, Franz Liszt, and Edvard Grieg.
Kuhlau died in Copenhagen in 1832. He is buried in Assistens Cemetery.
Kuhlau's music is still performed today, and his sonatas and sonatinas are considered to be essential repertoire for pianists. His music is also a valuable resource for students of music history, as it provides a glimpse into the development of the piano sonata in the early Romantic period.