Zemlinsky, Alexander (von)

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Zemlinsky, Alexander (von) (b Vienna, 1871; d Larchmont, NY, 1942). Austrian composer and conductor. Studied at Vienna Cons. with A. Door for pf. 1887–90, and J. Fuchs for comp. 1890–2. Joined Vienna Society of Musicians 1893, having several chamber works played, some of which pleased Brahms. Met Schoenberg 1893, and gave him lessons in counterpoint and introduced him to Wagner's mus. Cond. amateur orch. Polyhymnia in which Schoenberg played vc. Schoenberg said that Zemlinsky was the man he had to thank ‘for practically all my knowledge of technique and the problems of composition’. Zemlinsky's sister Mathilde became Schoenberg's first wife in 1901. Cond. at Carltheater, Vienna, 1900–3, Theater an der Wien 1903–4, Volksoper 1904–11 (at Court Opera 1907–8). Encouraged by Mahler, who helped to revise and conducted the opera Es war einmal in 1900. Gave comp. lessons to Alma Schindler, who became Mahler's wife. Arr. Mahler's 6th sym. for pf. (4 hands), pubd. 1906. Cond. of opera at Deutsches Landestheater, Prague, 1911–27, where he cond. f.ps. of 3 of Schoenberg's 6 Songs with Orchestra, Op.8, in 1914, and the monodrama Erwartung in 1924, also many other important new works. Pres. of Prague branch of Society for Private Performance, 1921–4. Taught comp. at Ger. Acad. of Mus., Prague, from 1920. Ass. cond. to Klemperer at Kroll Opera 1927–31. Taught at Berlin Hochschule für Musik 1927–33. Fled to Vienna 1933, to USA via Prague 1938.

  Zemlinsky's mus. was greatly admired by Schoenberg and it had a high reputation generally in the early years of the cent. In later years it was almost forgotten, but since c.1975 has enjoyed a gradual and accelerating climb back to favour. It has a flavour of Wagner–Strauss and remains determinedly tonal. Zemlinsky did not follow Schoenberg into atonality and his mus. offers much to those who enjoy Mahler. The Lyrische Symphonie is avowedly inspired by Das Lied von der Erde and is none the worse for it, while the 2nd str. qt. owes much to early Schoenberg and repays the debt with interest. His Maeterlinck settings are very attractive and the Wilde-based opera Der Zwerg is a masterpiece of concentrated lyric drama. Prin. works:OPERAS: Sarema (1894–6, prod. Munich 1897); Es war einmal (1897–9, prod. Vienna 1900); Der Traumgörge (1903–6, prod. Nuremberg 1980); Kleider machen Leute (1907–10, rev. 1922, prod. Vienna 1910, rev. vers. Prague 1922); Eine florentinische Tragödie (Wilde, trans. Meyerfeld) (1915–16, prod. Stuttgart 1917); Der Zwerg ( Klaren, after Wilde's The Birthday of the Infanta) (1920–1, prod. Cologne 1922); Der Kreidekreis (1930–2, prod. Zurich 1933); Der König Kandaules (1935–6, complete in short score, completed by Antony Beaumont, 1989). Also 5 unfinished operas.BALLET: Das gläserne Herz (after Hofmannsthal's Der Triumph der Zeit) (1900–1).INCID. MUSIC: Cymbeline (1914).ORCH.: syms., No.1 in D minor (1892), No.2 in B♭ (1897); Suite (c.1894); ov., Der Ring des Ofterdingen (1894–5); Die Seejungfrau (1902–3); Sinfonietta (1934).CHURCH MUS.: Psalm 83, ch., orch. (1900); Psalm 23, vv., orch. (1910); Psalm 13, vv., orch. (1935).VOICE(S) & INSTR(S).: Waldgespräch (Eichendorff), sop., 2 hn., hp., str. (1895–6); Der alte Garten (Eichendorff), v., orch. (1895); Die Riesen (Eichendorff), v., orch. (1895); Orientalisches Sonett, v., pf. (1895); Nun schwillt der See so bang, v., pf. (1896); Süsse Sommernacht, v., pf. (1896); Frühlingsglaube (Uhland), vv., str. (1896); Frühlingsbegräbnis ( Heyse), sop., alto, ten., bass. ch., orch. (1896); Lieder (Heyse, Liliencron), 2 books, v., pf. (1894–6); Gesänge (Heyse, Liliencron), 2 books, v., pf. (c. 1896); Walzer-Gesänge nach toskanischen Volksliedern (Gregorovius), v., pf. (1898); Irmelin Rose und andere Gesänge (Dehmel, Jacobsen), v., pf. (1898); Turmwächterlied und andere Gesänge (Jacobsen, Liliencron), v., pf. (1898–9); Ehetanzlied und andere Gesänge (Bierbaum, Morgenstern), v., pf. (c.1900); Es war ein alter König (Heine), v., pf. (1903); Schmetterlinge (Liliencron), v., pf. (1904); Ansturm ( Dehmel); v., pf. (1907; Auf See (Dehmel), v., pf. (1907); Jane Grey (Ammann), v., pf. (1907); 6 Gesänge (Maeterlinck), mez. or bar., pf. (1910–13, and with orch.); Lyrische Symphonie ( Tagore), sop., bar., orch. (1922–3); Symphonische Gesänge, v., orch. (1929); 6 Lieder ( Morgenstern, Goethe), v., pf. (1934); 12 Lieder ( George, Kalidasa, Goethe), v., pf. (1937).CHAMBER MUSIC: Serenade in A, vn., pf. (1892); Suite in A, vn., pf. (c.1893); str. quintet in D minor (2 vn., 2 va., vc.) (c.1895); trio for cl. or va., vc., pf. (1895); str. qts., No.1 in A (c.1895, f.p. 1896), No.2 (1913–15), No.3 (1924), No.4 (Suite) (1936).PIANO: Ländliche Tänze (1892); Fantasien über Gedichte von Richard Dehmel (1898).