Karl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai, a German composer, born in Königsberg, June 9, 1810, died in Berlin, May 10, 1849. During his childhood he learned to play the piano from his father, whose cruelty drove him from home at the age of 16. He went to Stargard in Pomerania, where he found a patron in Adler, who assisted him in his studies in literature as well as music. In 1830 he became a teacher of singing and playing in Berlin, and in 1834 organist at the ambassador's chapel in Rome. There he studied ancient sacred music, and commenced a valuable collection of manuscripts, which at his death was purchased by the royal library of Berlin. In 1839 he became for a year director of orchestra at the imperial opera of Vienna. He afterward wrote at Trieste his opera Enrico II, and in 1840 he produced at Turin Il templario, which was performed in most of the Italian theatres. In 1841 he produced Odoardo e Gildippe and Il proscritto. He returned to Vienna in 1842, and became first chapelmaster at the imperial opera. In 1848 he was made director of the orchestra of the theatre in Berlin, and there wrote his most famous opera, Lie lustigen Weiber ran Windsor. For the commemoration of the 300th anniversarv of the university of Konigsberg he wrote his well known " Festival Overture, the theme of which is Ein feste Burg, He also wrote a symphony, many songs, and pianoforte compositions.

The character of his music is melodious, but without great force or originality.