The initial opportunities which led to the success and recognition he enjoyed were due to Clara, who introduced him to both Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. Bargiel received his first lessons at home and later with the well-known Berlin teacher of music theory Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn. Upon the suggestion of Schumann and the recommendation of Mendelssohn, Bargiel at the age of sixteen went to study at the famous Leipzig Conservatory with two of the leading men of music: Ignaz Moscheles (piano) and Niels Wilhelm Gade (composition). After leaving Leipzig in 1850, he returned to Berlin where he tried to make ends meet by giving private lessons. Eventually, the Schumanns were able to arrange for the publication of some of his early works, including his first piano trio. Bargiel went on to hold positions at the conservatories in Cologne and Rotterdam, before accepting a position at the prestigious Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, where he taught for the rest of his life.
Among his many students were Paul Juon and Leopold Godowsky. Besides teaching and composing, Bargiel served with Brahms as co-editor of the complete editions of Schumann’s and Chopin’s works. While Bargiel did not write a lot of music, most of what he composed was well thought out and shows solid musical craftsmanship. His chamber music - he wrote four string quartets, a string octet, and three piano trios - represents an important part of his output. He died on 23rd February 1897.
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