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Ernst Krenek


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(b Vienna, 1900; d Palm Springs, Calif., 1991).

Austrian‐born composer (Amer. cit. 1945). His chamber mus., neo‐classical in style, was played at Donaueschingen and Nuremberg, and his Die Zwingburg, to a text by Franz Werfel, was prod. in Berlin, 1924, under Kleibecategr. In 1925–7 he was ass. to Paul Bekker as gen. man. of opera at Kassel and Wiesbaden. In 1926 he completed his opera Jonny spielt auf (Johnny strikes up), using jazz idiom. After rejection by several Ger. opera houses, it was staged in Leipzig in 1927 and was a sensational success, being perf. in over 100 cities and trans. into 20 languages. It made Krenek's name and fortune. He returned to Vienna in 1928 and made extensive study of 12‐note technique, later writing for Frankfurter Zeitung 1930–3. During this time he wrote an elaborate opera, Karl V, using the 12‐note method. (Its scheduled prod. in Vienna was cancelled when the Nazis occupied Austria and he was categorized as a composer of ‘degenerate music’. It was perf. in Prague, 1938.) In some later works he employed a free atonal technique and also applied a ‘principle of rotation’, in which serial variants are formed through the systematic exchange of the pitches of a given series with their adjacent pitches. He also used elec. procedures and later returned to a more lyrical style. He emigrated to USA in 1938, becoming prof. of mus. at Vassar Coll. 1939–42 and at Hamline Univ., St Paul, 1942–7. In 1948 he settled near Los Angeles, devoting his time to comp., lecture‐tours, etc. After 1945 he preferred his name to be spelt simply as Krenek. Prin. works:


Die Zwingburg

, Op.14 (lib. by Werfel) (1922);

Der Sprung über den Schatten

, Op.17 (1923);

Orpheus und Eurydike

, Op.21 (lib. by Kokoschka) (1923);


, Op.36 (1924–5);

Jonny spielt auf

, Op.45 (1925–6);

Der Diktator

, Op.49 (1926);

Das geheime Königreich

, Op.50 (1926–7);



Leben des Orest

, Op.60 (1928–9);

Kehraus um St Stephan

, Op.66 (1930);

Karl V

, Op.73 (1930–3);

Cefalo e Procri

, Op.77 (1933–4);


, Op.90 (1940);

What Price Confidence?

, Op.111 (1945–6);

Dark Waters


Pallas Athene weint


The Bell Tower


Ausgerechnet und verspielt


Der goldene Bock

, Op.186 (1963);

Der Zauberspiegel





Der vertauschte Cupido

, after Rameau (1925);

8‐Column Line

, Op.85 (1939);

Jest of Cards



syms.: No.1, Op.7 (1921), No.2, Op.12 (1922), No.3, Op.16 (1922), No.4, Op.34, wind, perc. (1925), No.5 (1949), sym. (unnumbered, 1947), Little Symphony, Op.58 (1928), Sym. Pallas Athene (1954), Symphonic mus., 9 instr., Op.11 (1922); pf. concs.: No.1, Op.18 (1923), No.2, Op.75 (1937), No.3 (1946), No.4 (1950); 2‐pf. conc. (1951);

Concerto grosso

No.1, Op.10, (1921), No.2, Op.25 (1924); vn. concs.: No.1, Op.29 (1924), No.2 (1954); 7 Pieces, Op.31 (1924);


, Op.54 (1927);

Symphonic Piece

, str., Op.86 (1939);

Little Concerto

, pf., org., chamber orch., Op.88 (1940)I Wonder as I Wander, variations on N. Car. folk‐song, Op.94 (1942);

Symphonic Elegy

, str. (on death of Webern) (1946);


Subjects: Music

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