9th June 1810
11th May 1849
Otto Nicolai was a German composer, conductor, and founder of the Vienna Philharmonic. Nicolai is best known for his operatic version of Shakespeare's comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor (Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor). In addition to five operas, Nicolai composed lieder, works for orchestra, chorus, ensemble, and solo instruments. Nicolai, a child prodigy, was born in Königsberg, Prussia. While still a youth he ran away from his home and parents and secured himself as a student of Carl Friedrich Zelter in Berlin. After initial successes in Germany, including his first Symphony (1831) and public concerts, he became musician to the Prussian Embassy in Rome.