Fraenkel, Wolfgang

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Fraenkel, Wolfgang

Fraenkel, Wolfgang, German composer; b. Berlin, Oct. 10, 1897; d. Los Angeles, March 8, 1983. He studied violin, piano, and theory at the KlindworthScharwenka Cons, in Berlin; at the same time, he took courses in jurisprudence and was a judge in Berlin until the advent of the Nazi regime in 1933. He was interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, but as a 50 percent Jew (his mother was an Aryan, as was his wife), he was released in 1939, and went to China, where he enjoyed the protection of Chiang Kai-shek, who asked him to organize music education in Nanking and Shanghai. In 1947 he emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles. He earned a living by composing back-ground music for documentary films in Hollywood, supplementing his income by copying music (he had a calligraphic handwriting). Fraenkel’s music was evolved from the standard German traditions, but at a later period he began to experiment with serial methods of composition. His 3rd string quartet (1960) won the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Prize and his Symphonische Aphorismen (1965) won 1st prize at the International Competition of the City of Milan. His works, both publ. and in MS, were deposited in the Moldenhauer Archive in Spokane, Wash.


DRAMATIC Opera : Der brennende Dornbusch (1924–27). ORCH.: Flute Concerto (1930); Frescobaldi, transcription for Orch. of 5 organ pieces by Frescobaldi (1957); Symphonische Aphorismen (1965). CHAMBER: 3 string quartets (1924,1949,1960); Cello Sonata (1934); Violin Sonata (1935); Sonata for Solo Violin (1954); Variations and a Fantasy on a Theme by Schoenberg for Piano (1954); Viola Sonata (1963); Klavierstuck for Tape and Piano (1964); String Quintet (1976). VOCAL: Der Wegweiser, cantata (1931); Filippo for Speaker and Orch. (1948); Joseph for Baritone and Orch., to a text by Thomas Mann (1968); Missa aphoristica for Chorus and Orch. (1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire