Hugo Wolf

Hugo Philipp Jacob Wolf (13 March 1860 – 22 February 1903) was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin, particularly noted for his art songs, or Lieder. He brought to this form a concentrated expressive intensity which was unique in late Romantic music, somewhat related to that of the Second Viennese School in concision but diverging greatly in technique.

Though he had several bursts of extraordinary productivity, particularly in 1888 and 1889, depression frequently interrupted his creative periods, and his last composition was written in 1898, before he suffered a mental collapse caused by syphilis.

Hugo Wolf
Photograph of Hugo Wolf
Musik Meile Wien, Hugo Wolf (27)
Star on Musik Meile Vienna

Early life (1860–1887)

Hugo Wolf was born in Windischgrätz in the Duchy of Styria (now Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia), then a part of the Austrian Empire. From his maternal side, he was related to Herbert von Karajan.[1][2] He spent most of his life in Vienna, becoming a representative of "New German" trend in Lieder, a trend which followed from the expressive, chromatic and dramatic musical innovations of Richard Wagner.

A child prodigy, Wolf was taught piano and violin by his father beginning at the age of four, and once in primary school studied piano and music theory with Sebastian Weixler. Subjects other than music failed to hold his interest; he was dismissed from the first secondary school he attended as being "wholly inadequate," left another over his difficulties in the compulsory Latin studies, and after a falling-out with a professor who commented on his "damned music," quit the last. From there, he went to the Vienna Conservatory much to the disappointment of his father, who had hoped his son would not try to make his living from music. Once again, however, he was dismissed for "breach of discipline," although the oft-rebellious Wolf would claim he quit in frustration over the school's conservatism.

After eight months with his family, he returned to Vienna to teach music. Though his fiery temperament was not ideally suited to teaching, Wolf's musical gifts, as well as his personal charm, earned him attention and patronage. Support of benefactors allowed him to make a living as a composer, and a daughter of one of his greatest benefactors inspired him to write to Vally ("Valentine") Franck, his first love, with whom he was involved for three years. During their relationship, hints of his mature style would become evident in his Lieder. Wolf was prone to depression and wide mood swings, which would affect him all through his life. When Franck left him just before his 21st birthday, he was despondent. He returned home, although his family relationships were also strained; his father was still convinced his son was a ne'er-do-well. His brief and undistinguished tenure as second Kapellmeister at Salzburg only reinforced this opinion: Wolf had neither the temperament, the conducting technique nor the affinity for the decidedly non-Wagnerian repertoire to be successful, and within a year had again returned to Vienna to teach in much the same circumstances as before.

Postcard-1910 Hugo Wolf
Hugo Wolf (1885)

Wagner's death in February 1883 was another deeply moving event in the life of the young composer. The song "Zur Ruh, zur Ruh" was composed shortly afterward and is considered to be the best of his early works; it is speculated that it was intended as an elegy for Wagner. Wolf often despaired of his own future in the ensuing years, in a world from which his idol had departed, leaving tremendous footsteps to follow and no guidance on how to do so. This left him often extremely temperamental, alienating friends and patrons, although his charm helped him retain them more than his actions merited. His songs had meanwhile caught the attention of Franz Liszt, whom he respected greatly, and who like Wolf's previous mentors advised him to pursue larger forms; advice he this time followed with the symphonic tone poem Penthesilea. His activities as a critic began to pick up. He was merciless in his criticism of the inferior works he saw taking over the musical atmosphere of the time;[3] those of Anton Rubinstein he considered particularly odious. But he was as fervent in his support of Liszt, Schubert and Chopin, whose genius he recognized. Known as "Wild Wolf" for the intensity and expressive strength of his convictions, his vitriol made him some enemies. He composed little during this time, and what he did write he couldn't get performed; the Rosé Quartet (led by Vienna Philharmonic concertmaster Arnold Rosé) would not even look at his D minor Quartet after it was picked apart in a column, and the premiere of Penthesilea was met by the Vienna Philharmonic, when they tried it out under their celebrated conservative conductor Hans Richter, with nothing but derision for 'the man who had dared to criticize "Meister Brahms,'" as Richter himself caustically put it.

He abandoned his activities as a critic in 1887 and began composing once more; perhaps not unexpectedly, the first songs he wrote after his compositional hiatus (to poems by Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorff and Joseph Viktor von Scheffel) emphasized themes of strength and resolution under adversity. Shortly thereafter, he completed the terse, witty one-movement Italian Serenade for string quartet which is regarded as one of the finest examples of his mature instrumental compositional style. Only a week later his father died, leaving him devastated, and he did not compose for the remainder of the year.

Maturity (1888–1896)

1888 and 1889 proved to be amazingly productive years for Wolf, and a turning point in his career. After the publication of a dozen of his songs late the preceding year, Wolf once again desired to return to composing, and travelled to the vacation home of the Werners—family friends whom Wolf had known since childhood—in Perchtoldsdorf (a short train ride from Vienna), to escape and compose in solitude. Here he composed the Mörike-Lieder at a frenzied pace. A short break, and a change of house, this time to the vacation home of more longtime friends, the Ecksteins, and the Eichendorff-Lieder followed, then the 51 Goethe-Lieder, spilling into 1889. After a summer holiday, the Spanisches Liederbuch was begun in October 1889;[4] though Spanish-flavoured compositions were in fashion in the day, Wolf sought out poems that had been neglected by other composers.

Wolf himself saw the merit of these compositions immediately, raving to friends that they were the best things he had yet composed (it was with the aid and urging of several of the more influential of them that the works were initially published). It was now that the world outside Vienna would recognize Wolf as well. Tenor Ferdinand Jäger, whom Wolf had heard in Parsifal during his brief summer break from composing, was present at one of the first concerts of the Mörike works and quickly became a champion of his music, performing a recital of only Wolf and Beethoven in December 1888. His works were praised in reviews, including one in the Münchener Allgemeine Zeitung, a widely read German newspaper. (The recognition was not always positive; Brahms's adherents, still smarting from Wolf's merciless reviews, returned the favor—when they would have anything to do with him at all. Brahms's biographer Max Kalbeck ridiculed Wolf for his immature writing and odd tonalities; another composer refused to share a program with him, while Amalie Materna, a Wagnerian singer, had to cancel her Wolf recital when allegedly faced with the threat of being on the critics' blacklist if she went on.)

Only a few more settings, completing the first half of the Italienisches Liederbuch, were composed in 1891 before Wolf's mental and physical health once again took a downturn at the end of the year; exhaustion from his prolific past few years combined with the effects of syphilis and his depressive temperament caused him to stop composing for the next several years. Continuing concerts of his works in Austria and Germany spread his growing fame; even Brahms and the critics who had previously reviled Wolf gave favorable reviews. However, Wolf was consumed with depression, which stopped him from writing—which only left him more depressed. He completed orchestrations of previous works, but new compositions were not forthcoming, and certainly not the opera which he was now fixated on composing, still convinced that success in the larger forms was the mark of compositional greatness.

Wolf had scornfully rejected the libretto to Der Corregidor when it was first presented to him in 1890, but his determination to compose an opera blinded him to its faults upon second glance. Based on The Three-Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, the darkly humorous story about an adulterous love triangle is one that Wolf could identify with: he had been in love with Melanie Köchert, married to his friend Heinrich Köchert, for several years. (It is speculated that their romance began in earnest in 1884, when Wolf accompanied the Köcherts on holiday; though Heinrich discovered the affair in 1893 he remained Wolf's patron and Melanie's husband.) The opera was completed in nine months and was initially met with success, but Wolf's musical setting could not compensate for the weakness of the text, and it was doomed to failure; it has not yet been successfully revived.

A renewal of creative activity resulted in Wolf's completion of the Italienisches Liederbuch with two dozen songs written in March and April 1896, the composition of three Michelangelo Lieder in March, 1897 (a group of six had been projected) and preliminary work during that year on an opera, Manuel Venegas.[5]

Final years (1897–1903)

Wolf's last concert appearance, which included his early champion Jäger, was in February 1897. Shortly thereafter Wolf slipped into syphilitic insanity, with only occasional spells of wellbeing. He left sixty pages of an unfinished opera, Manuel Venegas, in 1897, in a desperate attempt to finish before he lost his mind completely; after mid-1899 he could make no music at all and once even tried to drown himself, after which he was placed in a Vienna asylum at his own insistence. Melanie visited him faithfully during his decline until his death on 22 February 1903, but her unfaithfulness to her husband tortured her and she killed herself in 1906.

Wolf is buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, along with many other notable composers.


Wolf's greatest musical influence was Richard Wagner, who, in an encounter after Wolf first came to the Vienna Conservatory, encouraged the young composer to persist in composing and to attempt larger-scale works, cementing Wolf's desire to emulate his musical idol. His antipathy to Johannes Brahms was fueled equally by his devotion to Wagner's musical radicalism and his loathing of Brahms' musical "conservatism".

He is best known by his lieder, his temperament and inclination leading him to more intimate, subjective and terse musical utterances. Although he initially believed that mastering the larger forms was the hallmark of a great composer (a belief his early mentors reinforced), the smaller scale of the art song proved to provide an ideal creative outlet for his musical expression and came to be regarded as the genre best suited to his peculiar genius. Wolf's lieder are noted for compressing expansive musical ideas and depth of feeling, fed by his skill at finding the just right musical setting for the poetry that inspired him. Though Wolf himself was obsessed with the idea that to compose only short forms was to be second-rate, his organization of lyrics of particular poets (Goethe; Mörike; Eichendorff; Heyse & Geibel in the Spanish and Italian Songbooks) into semicyclical anthologies, finding connections between texts not explicitly intended by the poets he set and his conceptions of individual songs as dramatic works in miniature, mark him as a talented dramatist despite having written only one not particularly successful opera, Der Corregidor.

Early in his career Wolf modelled his lieder after those of Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann, particularly in the period around his relationship with Vally Franck; in fact, they were good enough imitations to pass off as the real thing, which he once attempted, though his cover was blown too soon. It is speculated that his choice of lieder texts in the earlier years, largely dealing with sin and anguish, were partly influenced by his contraction of syphilis. His love for Vally, not fully requited, inspired highly chromatic and philosophical lieder that could be regarded as successors to Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder cycle. Others were as distant from those in mood as possible; lighthearted and humorous. The rarely heard symphonic poem Penthesilea is tempestuous and highly colored as well. Although Wolf admired Liszt, who had encouraged him to complete the work, he felt Liszt's own music too dry and academic and strove for color and passion.

1888 marked a turning point in his style as well as his career, with the Mörike, Eichendorff and Goethe sets drawing him away from Schubert's simpler, more diatonic lyricism and into "Wölferl's own howl". Mörike in particular drew out and complemented Wolf's musical gifts, the variety of subjects suiting Wolf's tailoring of music to text, his dark sense of humor matching Wolf's own, his insight and imagery demanding a wider variety of compositional techniques and command of text painting to portray. In his later works he relied less on the text to give him his musical framework and more on his pure musical ideas themselves; the later Spanish and Italian songs reflect this move toward "absolute music".

Wolf wrote hundreds of lieder, three operas, incidental music, choral music, as well as some rarely heard orchestral, chamber and piano music. His most famous instrumental piece is the Italian Serenade (1887), originally for string quartet and later transcribed for orchestra, which marked the beginning of his mature style.

Wolf was famous for his use of tonality to reinforce meaning. Concentrating on two tonal areas to musically depict ambiguity and conflict in the text became a hallmark of his style, resolving only when appropriate to the meaning of the song. His chosen texts were often full of anguish and inability to find resolution, and thus so too was the tonality wandering, unable to return to the home key. Use of deceptive cadences, chromaticism, dissonance, and chromatic mediants obscure the harmonic destination for as long as the psychological tension is sustained. His formal structure as well reflected the texts being set, and he wrote almost none of the straightforward strophic songs favoured by his contemporaries, instead building the form around the nature of the work.

Notable works




  • String Quartet in D minor (1878–84)
  • Penthesilea (symphonic poem, 1883–85)
  • Italian Serenade (1887, string quartet; orchestrated in 1892)

Recording projects

Individual songs have been included in the recorded repertoire of many singers. Significant early Wolf recording artists included Elisabeth Schumann, Heinrich Rehkemper, Heinrich Schlusnus, Josef von Manowarda, Lotte Lehmann, Karl Erb and others.[6] Early post-War collections were recorded by Suzanne Danco, Anton Dermota and Gérard Souzay (all before 1953), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1954), Hans Hotter (1954), Erna Berger (1956), Heinrich Rehfuss (1955) and Elisabeth Schumann (1958), and important individual songs by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, and Elisabeth Höngen.[7] Gerald Moore was a distinguished accompanist in Wolf song recordings. Fischer-Dieskau recorded a large collection of Mörike songs with Moore in March 1959.[8] Some major projects have attempted more comprehensive coverage.

Hugo Wolf Society edition

In September 1931 the Hugo Wolf Society was formed under the aegis of English His Master's Voice records supervised by Walter Legge[9] for the recording of a substantial proportion of the song repertoire. These were to be issued to subscribers in limited editions.[10] The artists participating were restricted to those under contract to this company. Each volume consisted of six HMV red-label discs (unobtainable separately) and retailed new at $15.00 Am. The Wolf Society recordings were re-released in 1981.[11]
Volume I, entirely performed by Elena Gerhardt accompanied by Coenraad V. Bos, presented a selection mainly from the Spanish and Italian songbooks and the Mörike songs. For many years this scarce set[12] was regarded as a collector's prize, and forms a distinct corpus within her recorded art. Later volumes always included more than one singer. Volume II: 16 of the 51 Goethe songs, all (apart from McCormack) accompanied by Coenraad V. Bos, but with Friedrich Schorr's Prometheus with the orchestral accompaniment. Volume III: A selection of 17 items, including three Michelangelo songs, three Mörike songs, four from the Spanisches Liederbuch and six from the Italienisches Liederbuch. All accompanied by Coenraad V. Bos. Volume IV: 30 items from Italienisches Liederbuch. Accompaniments by Coenraad V. Bos, Michael Raucheisen and Hanns Udo Müller. Volume V: A selection of 20 songs (mainly Mörike and Spanisches Liederbuch). Volume VI: Settings of Mörike, Robert Reinick, Goethe, Heyse and Geibel, Just and Kerner. Artists included Alexander Kipnis (III, IV, V); Herbert Janssen (II, V, VI); Gerhard Hüsch (II, III, IV, V); John McCormack (accompanied by Edwin Schneider) (II); Alexandre Trianti (II, III); Ria Ginster (IV, V); Friedrich Schorr (II); Elisabeth Rethberg (IV, V); Tiana Lemnitz (VI); Helge Roswaenge (VI); Marta Fuchs (VI) and Karl Erb (VI).[13] Each volume was accompanied by a booklet containing a short essay by Ernest Newman (I: Words and Music in Hugo Wolf, II: Wolf's Goethe Songs, III: A Note of Wolf as Craftsman, IV: The Italienisches Liederbuch) together with German texts, English translations (by Winifred Radford) and notes on each song (by Newman).[10]

DGG Hugo Wolf Lieder Edition

A Hugo Wolf Lieder Edition was recorded by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Daniel Barenboim during the 1970s for DGG, each volume containing three records. Volume I (1974): Mörike Lieder (Paris Grand Prix du Disque). Volume II (1976): Lieder on poems by Goethe, Heine and Lenau. Volume III (1977): Lieder on poems by Eichendorff, Michelangelo, Robert Reinick, Shakespeare, Byron, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Joseph Viktor von Scheffel, etc. The accompanying volumes include essays by Hans Jancik, texts of the poems, and translations by Lionel Salter (English) and Jacques Fournier and others (French).[14]

Oxford Lieder Festival edition

The first project to record every song by Wolf was commenced in 2010, the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth, by Stone Records and the Oxford Lieder Festival. This series of live recordings, featuring a wide variety of singers and Oxford Lieder Festival's artistic director Sholto Kynoch at the piano, is expected to run to 11 or 12 discs: to date, 9 discs have been issued.

Austrian Radio Anniversary edition

In 2010 Austrian Radio and the Departure Centre for Creative Design in Vienna marked Hugo Wolf’s anniversary with a recital series in which 188 of the songs were performed against visuals created by leading designers. The series was intended to bring Lieder to a new audience and was held at the initiative of baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, who was joined by a team of Austrian singers and pianists. The concerts were released on DVDs the following year, and in 2012 Bridge Records released the Spanish and Italian songbooks on CDs.


  1. ^ "Herbert Von Karajan-Karajan Family". Karajan Family. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  2. ^ Branka Lapajne (4 April 2008). "The Shared Slovenian Ancestors of Herbert von Karajan and Hugo Wolf". Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  3. ^ Andreas Dorschel, 'Arbeit am Kanon. Zu Hugo Wolfs Musikkritiken', in Musicologica Austriaca XXVI (2007), pp. 43-52.
  4. ^ Spanisches-Liederbuch at Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ Erik Sams, The Songs of Hugo Wolf, Oxford University Press, 1961.
  6. ^ R.D. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (Gramophone Shop, Inc., New York 1936).
  7. ^ A Complete List of HMV, Columbia, Parlophone and MGM Long Playing Records Issued up to and including June 1955 (EMI, London 1955); The Art of Record Buying 1960 (EMG, London 1960).
  8. ^ (HMV ALP 1618-1619).
  9. ^ Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, On and Off the Record (Faber and Faber 1982), p. 215.
  10. ^ a b Hugo Wolf Society Publications (HMV, Hayes 1931-1936).
  11. ^ E. Schwarzkopf, On and Off the Record, p. 215.
  12. ^ It became rare because HMV claimed that to reissue it would betray the original terms of the limited edition. This was deplored, on behalf of the singer, by Desmond Shawe-Taylor ('Elena Gerhardt and the Gramophone', in E. Gerhardt, Recital (London, Methuen 1953), 168) and by Gerald Moore (Am I Too Loud? (Harmondsworth 1966), 93).
  13. ^ See E. Sackville-West and D. Shawe-Taylor, The Record Year 2 (Collins, London 1953), 683-693. Also a listing in the His Master's Voice Recorded Music Catalogue (Hayes, Middlesex: 1943-44), p. 290.
  14. ^ Hugo Wolf Lieder Publications (Deutsche Grammophon, 1974-1977).


  • Andreas Dorschel, Hugo Wolf. In Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, 2nd ed. (Rowohlt, Reinbek, 1992) (rowohlts bildmonographien 344). In German.
  • Newman, Ernest, Hugo Wolf (Methuen, London, 1907).
  • Sams, Eric and Susan Youens, 'Hugo Wolf', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy, (subscription access)
  • Thompson, Douglas S. "Musical Structure and Evocation of Time in Hugo Wolf's 'Ein Stundlein wohl vor Tag'" The National Association of Teachers of Singing Journal 65, No. 01, September/October (2008)
  • Walker, Frank, Hugo Wolf - A Biography (J M Dent & Sons, London 1951). Includes extensive Bibliography (mainly biographical), pp. 448–461, and list of compositions, pp. 462–492.

External links

Carl Loewe

Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe (German: [ˈløːvə]; 30 November 1796 – 20 April 1869), usually called Carl Loewe (sometimes seen as Karl Loewe), was a German composer, tenor singer and conductor. In his lifetime, his songs (Lieder) were well enough known for some to call him the "Schubert of North Germany", and Hugo Wolf came to admire his work. He is less known today, but his ballads and songs, which number over 400, are occasionally performed.

Dem Vaterland

Dem Vaterland is a patriotic anthem written by Robert Reinick and set to music by Hugo Wolf.

Der Corregidor

Der Corregidor is a comic opera by Hugo Wolf. The German libretto was written by Rosa Mayreder-Obermayer, based on the short novel El sombrero de tres picos by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón.

Ernest Newman

Ernest Newman (30 November 1868 – 7 July 1959) was an English music critic and musicologist. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians describes him as "the most celebrated British music critic in the first half of the 20th century." His style of criticism, aiming at intellectual objectivity in contrast to the more subjective approach of other critics, such as Neville Cardus, was reflected in his books on Richard Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss and others. He was music critic of The Sunday Times from 1920 until his death nearly forty years later.

Ernst Hilmar

Ernst Hilmar (20 September 1938 – 23 November 2016) was an Austrian librarian, editor, and musicologist.

Gabriele Schreckenbach

Gabriele Schreckenbach (born in Berlin) is a German contralto singer in opera and concert and an academic voice teacher.

She recorded Bach cantatas with the Gächinger Kantorei and Helmuth Rilling. She recorded choral works of Mozart, his Waisenhausmesse K. 139 and rarely performed pieces, with the RIAS Kammerchor and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marcus Creed. She recorded the part of Ursula in the opera Feuersnot of Richard Strauss with Erich Leinsdorf and parts in three operas of Paul Hindemith with Gerd Albrecht, who also conducted recordings of Die Gezeichneten of Franz Schreker and Der Corregidor of Hugo Wolf. She recorded the part of Iocaste in Stravinsky's Oedipus rex with Ferdinand Leitner. In 1994 she was appointed professor at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

Ganymed (Goethe)

"Ganymed" is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in which the character of the mythic youth Ganymede is seduced by God (or Zeus) through the beauty of Spring.

In early editions of the Collected Works it appeared in Volume II of Goethe's poems in a section of "Vermischte Gedichte" (assorted poems), shortly following the "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern", and the "Harzreise im Winter". It immediately follows "Prometheus", and the two poems together should be understood as a pair, one expressing the sentiment of divine love, the other misotheism. Both belong to the period 1770 to 1775. Prometheus is the creative and rebellious spirit which, rejected by God, angrily defies him and asserts itself; Ganymede is the boyish self which is adored and seduced by God. One is the lone defiant, the other the yielding acolyte. As the humanist poet, Goethe presents both identities as aspects or forms of the human condition.

The poem was set to music by Franz Schubert and by Hugo Wolf.

Hugo Wolf F/A-18C simulator

The Hugo Wolf F/A-18C simulator (official designation: Mobile Training Installation Ground Operations) is a realistic non-flying replica of a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, used as an interactive training simulator for operational ground staff. It is fitted with specialised equipment to simulate various emergency scenarios. Two examples are used by the Swiss Air Force.

Italian Serenade (Wolf)

The Italian Serenade is a piece of music written by Hugo Wolf in 1887. It was originally written for string quartet and named simply "Serenade in G major". By April 1890, he was referring to it in his letters as Italian Serenade. In 1892, he arranged it for string orchestra. It is one of his few works other than Lieder.

The work was written between 2 and 4 May 1887. One of its inspirations was his concurrent work on setting various poems by Joseph Eichendorff to music, and the first of them "Der Soldat I" has a theme that is similar to that of the Serenade. That poem's subject is similar to that of Eichendorff's novella Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (From the Life of a Ne'er-Do-Well), and it may be that Wolf was as much influenced by this work as he was by the poem. The novella includes a section about an Italian serenade played by a small orchestra. The hero of the novella is a young violinist who leaves home to seek his fortune further afield, and this could well have been something that Wolf could relate to.

It was originally planned as part of a work in three movements. However, Wolf later abandoned this plan in favor of a self-contained, one-movement work. His father died only a week after he wrote the Italian Serenade, and he wrote no more music for the remainder of 1887.

When Wolf orchestrated the work in 1892, he was intending it as the first movement of a four-movement suite. He did sketch a slow movement in G minor, but never finished it. In his letters, he mentions another movement that he claimed to have completed, but that score has never come to light, only 45 measures of sketches being extant. In 1897, he sketched a few pages of a Tarantella to complete the suite, but he was committed to an insane asylum before he could finish it. In summary, all that remains of the projected suite is the Italian Serenade. Throughout his time in the asylum, where he remained for the rest of his life, he planned to complete the suite, but this never eventuated. Wolf died in February 1903.

The Italian Serenade is quite short, taking only about 7 minutes, and has a lilting and varied theme, played over a pizzicato figure. The main theme is said to have been based on an old Italian melody played on an obsolete form of oboe called the piffero. Its lively and optimistic manner is an evocation of the Italianate spirit, realised through melodic richness. Robert W. Gutman has written that "The essence of the delicious Italian Serenade is its antithesis of romantic sentiment and mocking wit".Its first performance was in Vienna in January 1904, eleven months after Wolf's death. Both the original string quartet version and the orchestral version were played at the premiere.The Italian Serenade has been recorded many times; it is a favourite encore piece for string quartets, and it has been arranged by other hands for combinations of instruments such as a wind quintet and solo viola and orchestra.

Italienisches Liederbuch (Wolf)

Italienisches Liederbuch (English: Italian songbook) is a collection of 46 Lieder (songs for voice and piano) by Hugo Wolf (1860–1903). The first 22 songs (Book 1) were composed between September 1890 and December 1891, and published in 1892. The other 24 songs (Book 2) were composed between March and August 1896, and published the same year. The time lag between the two volumes was caused by Wolf's long-proposed opera, Der Corregidor (1895), which might have been inspired by his personal love triangle with his friend’s wife Melanie Köchert. The 46 lyrics of the songs were taken from an anthology of Italian poems by Paul Heyse (1830–1914), translated into German and published with the title of Italienisches Liederbuch in 1860. Despite Heyse’s diverse poetic selections, Wolf preferred the rispetto, a short Italian verse usually consisting of eight lines of ten or eleven syllables each, as a result of which the songs are short.

Jan-Hendrik Rootering

Jan-Hendrik Rootering (born 18 March 1950 in Wedingfeld near Flensburg) is a German-born operatic bass, son of the Dutch tenor Hendrikus Rootering from whom he had his first lessons. After further study at Hamburg's Musikhochschule he began singing minor roles with the Staatsoper Hamburg and made a debut at the Bayerischen Staatsoper München in 1982 as the Spirit Messenger in Die Frau ohne Schatten. In 1987 he received the title of Bayerischer Kammersänger. Mr. Rootering was the bass soloist in the Beethoven Ninth Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein in celebration of the fall of the Berlin wall -- in the no-longer-divided city of Berlin -- at Christmastime 1989.

He can be seen as Fasolt on James Levine's The Ring of the Nibelung, and as the Speaker of the Temple on Wolfgang Sawallisch's The Magic Flute, and heard on two recital discs of Lieder by Richard Strauss and Hugo Wolf with pianist Herman Lechler.


The lied (, plural lieder (Collins English Dictionary n.d.; Random House Unabridged Dictionary 1997; American Heritage Dictionary 2018); German pronunciation: [liːt], plural [ˈliːdɐ], German for "song") is a term in the German vernacular to describe setting poetry to classical music to create a piece of polyphonic music (Böker-Heil, et al. 2011). The term is used for songs from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries or even to refer to Minnesang from as early as the 12th and 13th centuries (Encyclopædia Britannica 1998). It later came especially to refer to settings of Romantic poetry during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and into the early twentieth century. Examples include settings by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf or Richard Strauss. Among English speakers, however, "lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poems that have been made into lieder often center on pastoral themes or themes of romantic love (Anon. 2014).

Manfred (Schumann)

Manfred: Dramatic Poem with Music in Three Parts (Opus 115) [German: Manfred. Dramatisches Gedicht in drei Abtheilungen], is a work of incidental music by Robert Schumann. The work is based on the poem Manfred by Lord Byron and consists of an overture, an entracte, melodramas, and several solos and choruses.Written primarily in 1848, it was first performed at the Gewandhaus concert at Leipzig on March 14, 1852. The most highly regarded piece in the work is the Overture. Composer Hugo Wolf wrote that the work "has brought the essence, the focal point of the drama to plastic expression with the simplest strokes." Music historian Peter Ostwald wrote that the Overture was written during a time when Schumann was facing "exquisite suffering" from "inner voices," or auditory hallucinations.

Prometheus (Goethe)

"Prometheus" is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in which the character of the mythic Prometheus addresses God (as Zeus) in misotheist accusation and defiance. The poem was written between 1772 and 1774 and first published in 1789 after an anonymous and unauthorised publication in 1785 by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. It is an important work of the Sturm und Drang movement.

In early editions of the Collected Works it appeared in Volume II of Goethe's poems in a section of Vermischte Gedichte (assorted poems), shortly following the Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, and the Harzreise im Winter. It is immediately followed by "Ganymed", and the two poems together should be understood as a pair. Both belong to the period 1770–1775. Prometheus (1774) was planned as a drama but not completed, but this poem draws upon it. Prometheus is the creative and rebellious spirit which, rejected by God, angrily defies him and asserts itself; Ganymede is the boyish self which is adored and seduced by God. One is the lone defiant, the other the yielding acolyte. As the humanist poet, Goethe presents both identities as aspects or forms of the human condition.

Although the setting is classical, the address to the Biblical God is suggested by the section beginning "Da ich ein Kind war..." ("When I was a child"): the use of Da is distinctive, and by it Goethe evokes the Lutheran translation of Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, 13:11: "Da ich ein Kind war, da redete ich wie ein Kind..." ("When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"). Unlike Paul, Goethe's Prometheus grew up to disbelieve in the divine heart moved to pity for the afflicted.

The poem was set to music by J. F. Reichardt, Franz Schubert (see "Prometheus", 1819), Hugo Wolf (1889) and F.M. Einheit (1993).

Ria Ginster

Ria Ginster (15 April 1898 – 11 May 1985) was a German soprano who appeared mainly in recital and concert, including international tours. She was an academic voice teacher at the Zürich Conservatory, and gave master classes internationally, including at the Mozarteum, in Philadelphia and in New York.

Seven Early Songs (Berg)

The Seven Early Songs (Sieben frühe Lieder) (c. 1905 – 1908), are early compositions of Alban Berg, written while he was under the tutelage of Arnold Schoenberg. They are an interesting synthesis combining Berg's heritage of pre-Schoenberg song writing with the rigour and undeniable influence of Schoenberg. The writing very much carries with it the heritage of Richard Strauss (although the influences of a number of other composers can be discerned – Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf for example, as well as Claude Debussy's harmonic palette in evidence in "Nacht"), through the expansiveness of gesture and 'opening of new vistas,' and that of Richard Wagner. The songs were first written for a medium voice and piano; the composer himself revised them in 1928 for high voice and orchestra.

Slovenj Gradec

Slovenj Gradec (pronounced [slɔˈʋeːŋ ˈɡɾaːdəts] (listen); German: Windischgrätz, after about 1900 Windischgraz) is a town in northern Slovenia. It is the centre of the City Municipality of Slovenj Gradec. It is part of the historical Styria region, and since 2005 it has belonged to the NUTS-3 Carinthia Statistical Region. It is located in the Mislinja Valley at the eastern end of the Karawanks mountain range, about 45 km (28 mi) west of Maribor and 65 km (40 mi) northeast of Ljubljana.

Sophie Karthäuser

Sophie Karthäuser (born May 1974) is a Belgian operatic soprano. She has performed internationally, especially in roles by Mozart such as Ilia in Idomeneo and Pamina in The Magic Flute. She is also a recitalist, performing and recording for example the complete songs by Mozart and lieder by Hugo Wolf.

Spanisches Liederbuch (Wolf)

Spanisches Liederbuch (English: Spanish songbook) is a collection of 44 Lieder (songs for voice and piano) by Hugo Wolf (1860–1903). They were composed between October 1889 and April 1890, and published in 1891. The words are translations into German by Emanuel Geibel (1815–84) and Paul Heyse (1830–1914) of Spanish and Portuguese poems and folk songs, published in a collection of 1852 also called Spanisches Liederbuch.

Notable people

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