“for this purpose I chose such a mighty instrument, which requires a proper way of life to maintain the strength for it…”
– This quote of Johann Matthias Sperger gives us an idea of his creative force and zest for life. Sperger was born in 1750 near Brno, then Lower Austria. During his years of study in Vienna and as member of the orchestra of the archduke of Pressburg, he established a reputation as a “virtuoso on the bass violone”. In the year 1788, Sperger was finally permitted to perform before the then Crown Prince and later King Frederick William II of Prussia at the court in Berlin, taking the opportunity to give the latter a whole pile of his many compositions as a gift. After receiving “the very highest applause”, he was offered a position in the court orchestra at Ludwigslust, the recently completed residence of the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It was a dream job: good lodgings, performing concerts, composing, teaching, and no copying of sheet music - a dreaded, time-consuming task usually demanded of court composers. Sperger was even allowed to work as a farmer in his spare time. In Ludwigslust, the composer had finally found the support, security and inspiration he had always sought, and stayed until his death in 1812. His complete works are housed in the archives of the state library of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, along with many other Classical works for the double bass. The music school and a street bearing Sperger´s name are testimony to the good years the composer spent in Ludwigslust and the recognition he received from the city.
Every two years, young double bassists from around the world travel to Ludwigslust for some healthy artistic sparring and lively musical exchanges during the International Johann Matthias Sperger Competiton. Klaus Trumpf, who for decades has passionately and tirelessly managed Sperger´s heritage and brought it to international attention, created this competition. In 2016, the reins passed to the hands of Christine Hoock, who now presides over the International J.M. Sperger Society and thus also the competition, assisted by a young, motivated team.