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Istel, Edgar

Istel, Edgar, eminent German musicologist; b. Mainz, Feb. 23, 1880; d. Miami, Fia., Dec. 17, 1948. He studied composition with Volbach in Mainz, and then took courses with Thuille at the Munich Hochschule für Musik and Sandberger at the Univ. of Munich (Ph.D., 1900, with the diss. J.J. Rousseau als Komponist seiner lyrischen Scene “Pygmalion”; publ. in Publikationen der International Musikgesellschaft, I/i, Leipzig, 1901). He was active as a lecturer, critic, and writer on music in Munich (1900–13), and then taught at Berlin’s Humboldt Academy (1913–19) and Lessing Hochschule (1919–20). In 1920 he moved to Madrid, where he remained until the outbreak of the civil war in 1936; then went to England, and eventually to the U.S. (1938). He was also a composer; wrote five operas, oratorios, and smaller pieces.

Writings

Das deutsche Weihnachtsspiel und seine Wiedergeburt aus dem Geiste der Musik (1901); Richard Wagner im Lichte eines zeitgenössischen Briefwechsels (1902); Peter Cornelius (1906); Die Entstehung des deutschen Melodramas (1906); Die komische Oper (1906); Die Blütezeit der musikalischen Romantik in Deutschland (1909); Das Kunstwerk Richard Wagners (1910); Das Libretto (1914; Eng. tr., 1922, as The Art of Writing Opera Librettos); Die moderne Oper vom Tode Wagners bis zum Weltkrieg (1915); Niccolo Paganini (1919); Revolution und Oper (1919); Das Buch der Oper (1919); Die deutschen Meister von Gluck bis Wagner (1919); Bizet und Carmen (1927).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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