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Hugo Wolf

(1860—1903) Austrian composer

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(b Windischgraz, 1860; d Vienna, 1903).

Austrian composer. Taught rudiments of mus. by his father, a leather‐dealer. Entered Vienna Cons. 1875 (fellow‐pupil of Mahler). Expelled 1877 (unjustly) and made bare living by teaching pf. 2nd cond. at Salzburg 1881, but gave up after 3 months. Mus. critic. in Vienna 1883–7, making enemies by his fanatical praise of Wagner and dislike of Brahms. From 1888, when he discovered the poetry of Mörike, poured out dozens of songs, incl. the Spanish Songbook, in which the art of the Lied reached one of its most sophisticated and intricately‐wrought stages, with the pf. part no longer simple acc. but an integral part of the song. The concentrated characterization of each song is unequalled in Lieder, demanding the utmost artistry from the performers, psychological as well as vocal and instr. For 3 years from 1892 to 1894, Wolf wrote nothing except the orch. arr. of the Italian Serenade, but his fame gradually spread and in Berlin a ‘Hugo Wolf Society’ was founded. Even Vienna began to capitulate late in 1894. In 1895 he wrote an opera based on The Three‐Cornered Hat which he called Der Corregidor. In the spring of 1896, he wrote the 24 songs of the Italian Songbook (Vol. II). In 1897 he began his Michelangelo settings and a 2nd opera, Manuel Venegas. But in the autumn his mind gave way, the outcome of venereal disease, and he was taken to an asylum. Though he seemed to be ‘cured’ in 1898 he tried to drown himself in Oct. of that year and spent his last years insane in a mental hospital. Prin. works:


Der Corregidor


Manuel Venegas

(1897, incomplete).



, sym.‐poem (1883);

Italienische Serenade

(1892, orch. of work for str. qt. 1887).

chamber music:

str. qt. in D minor (1879–80);

Serenade in G

for str. qt. (1887; arr. for str. orch. 1892 as Italienische Serenade (Italian Serenade).


6 Eichendorff chs., unacc. (1881), Christ‐Nacht, soloists, ch., orch. (1886–9);


(‘You spotted snakes’, from A Midsummer Night's Dream), sop., ch., orch. (c.1890, arr. from song for v. and pf., 1888, but not same as Elfenlied in Mörike‐Lieder);

Der Feuerreiter

(The Fire‐rider) (Mörike song 1888 arr. ch and orch. 1892);

Dem Vaterland

(song for v. and pf. 1888, arr. for male ch. and orch. 1888–91).


(mostly with pf. acc., but some with orch.): 12 Lieder aus der Jugendzeit (1877–8);

6 Songs for Woman's Voice


6 Poems of Scheffel, Mörike, Goethe, and Kerner


4 Poems of Heine, Shakespeare, and Byron


6 Poems by Gottfried Keller


3 Ibsen Songs


3 Poems by Reinick


53 Mörike‐Lieder


20 Eichendorff‐Lieder


51 Goethe‐Lieder

(incl. Mignon Lieder) (1888–9);

Spanisches Liederbuch

(44 songs) (1889–90);

Italienisches Liederbuch

, Vol. I (22 songs) (1890–1);

Italienisches Liederbuch

, Vol. II (24 songs) (1896);

3 Poems by Michelangelo

(1897). Among the best‐loved Wolf songs (selectively chosen) are: An die Geliebte;



Anakreons Grab




Denk es, O Seele


Einsame; Elfenlied


Subjects: Music

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