WelleSZ Egon

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WelleSZ Egon

WelleSZ, Egon (Joseph), eminent Austrian-born English composer, musicologist, and pedagogue; b. Vienna, Oct. 21, 1885; d. Oxford, Nov. 9, 1974. He studied harmony with Carl Frühling in Vienna and then was a pupil in musicology with Adler at the Univ. of Vienna (graduated, 1908); he also received private instruction from Schoenberg. From 1911 to 1915 he taught music history at the Neues Cons, in Vienna; in 1913 he was engaged as a lecturer on musicology at the Univ. of Vienna and was a prof. there from 1930 to 1938, when the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany compelled him to leave. He went to England in 1938; joined the music dept. of the Univ. of Oxford, which in 1932 had conferred upon him the degree of Mus.Doc. {honoris causa). In 1943 he became a lecturer in music history at the Univ. of Oxford; in 1946 he was appointed to the editorial board of the New Oxford History of Music, to which he then contributed, and was Univ. Reader in Byzantine music at Oxford (1948-56). Wellesz received the Prize of the City of Vienna in 1953. He was president of the Univ. of Oxford Byzantine Soc. (1955-66). In 1957 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was awarded the Grande Médaille d’Argent of the City of Paris. In 1961 he was awarded the Austrian Great State prize. A scholar and a musician of extraordinary capacities, Wellesz distinguished himself as a composer of highly complex musical scores and as an authority on Byzantine music.


dramatic: Opera : Die Prinzessin Girnara (1919-20; Hannover, May 15, 1921; rev. version, Mannheim, Sept. 2, 1928); Alkestis (1922-23; Mannheim, March 20, 1924); Opferung des Gefangenen (1924-25; Cologne, April 10, 1926); Scherz, List und Rache (1926-27; Stuttgart, March 1,1928); Die Bakchantinnen (1929-30; Vienna, June 20, 1931); Incognita (Oxford, Dec. 5, 1951). B a 1 1 e t : Das Wunder der Diana (1915; Mannheim, March 20, 1924); Persisches Ballett (1920; Donaueschingen, 1924); Achilles auf Skyros (1921; Stuttgart, March 4, 1926); Die Nächtlichen (1923; Berlin, Nov. 20, 1924). ORCH.: Vorfrühling, symphonic poem (1912); Suite for Violin and Chamber Orch. (1924); Piano Concerto (1934); Prósperos Beschwörungen, after Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1936-38; Vienna, Feb. 19, 1938); 9 syms.: No. 1, in C (1945), No. 2, in E- flat (1948), No. 3, in A (1951), No. 4, Symphonia Austriaca, in G (1953), No. 5 (1956; Düsseldorf, Feb. 20, 1958), No. 6 (1965; Nuremberg, June 1, 1966), No. 7 (1968), No. 8 (1971), and No. 9 (1971; Vienna, Nov. 22,1972); Violin Concerto (1961; Vienna, Jan. 19,1962); Music for Strings (1964); Divertimento for Chamber Orch. (1969); Symphonischer Epilog (1969). CHAMBER: 9 string quartets (1912, 1917,1918,1920,1944, 1947, 1948, 1957, 1966); Geistiges Lied for Piano Trio (1918); Sonata for Solo Cello (1921); 2 Pieces for Clarinet and Piano (1922); Sonata for Solo Violin (1924); Suite for Violin and Piano (1937); Little Suite for Flute (1937); Octet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, and String Quintet (1948-49); Suite for Wind Quintet (1954); Suite in 3 movements for Bassoon (1956); Clarinet Quintet (1959); 2 string trios (1962, 1969); 5 Miniatures for Violin and Piano (1965); Music for String Quartet (1968); String Quintet (1970). KEYBOARD: Pian o : 3 Piano Pieces (1912); Epigramme (1913); 5 Dance Pieces (1927); Triptych (1966); Studies in Grey (1969). Organ: Partita (1966). VOCAL: Gebete der Mädchen zur Maria for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (1909); Mitte des Lebens, cantata (1932); Amor timido, cantata for Soprano and Orch. (1935); 5 Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for Soprano and String Quartet (1935); Lied der Welt for Soprano and Orch. (1937); Leben, Traum und Tod for Contralto and Orch. (1937); Short Mass for Chorus and Small Orch. (1937); The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo for Soprano, Violin, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, after Hopkins (1944); 4 Songs of Return for Soprano and Small Orch. (1961); Duineser Elegie for Soprano, Chorus, and Chamber Ensemble (1963); Ode to Music for Baritone and Chamber Orch. (1964); Vision for Soprano and Orch. (1966); Mirabile Mysterium, Christmas cantata (1967); Canticum Sapientiae for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1968; Graz, Oct. 25, 1969).


Arnold Schönberg (Vienna, 1921; Eng. tr., 1924); Byzantinische Kirchenmusik (Breslau, 1927); Eastern Elements in Western Chant: Studies in the Early History of Ecclesiastical Music, Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, subsidia, II (1947; 2nd ed., 1967); A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (Oxford, 1949; 3rd ed., rev., 1963); Essays on Opera (London, 1950); The Origin of Schoenberg’s 12-tone System (Washington, D.C., 1958); Byzantinische Musik, Das Musikwerk, I (1959; Eng. tr., 1959); Die Hymnen der Ostkirche, Basiliensis de musica orationes, I (Kassel, 1962); /./. Fux (London, 1965); also ed. Ancient and Oriental Music, Vol. I, The New Oxford History of Music (Oxford, 1957); ed. with M. Velimirovic, Studies in Eastern Chant, I-III (London, 1966-71); ed. with F. Sternfeld, The Age of Enlightenment (1745-1790), Vol. VII, The New Oxford History of Music (Oxford, 1973).


R. Scholium, E. W.(Vienna, 1964); C. Benser, E. W. (1885-1974): Chronicle of a Twentieth-Century Musician (N.Y., 1985); L. Wedl, Die Bakchantinnen von E. W.: Oder Das göttliche Wunder (Vienna, 1992); H. Vogg, ed., Am Beispiel E. W.: Sein Briefwechsel mit Doblinger als Zeugnis der Partnerschaft zwischen Komponist und Verlag (Vienna, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire