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“Heaven gives a man complete genius or no genius at all. Hell has given me everything by halves.”
Biography: Hugo Wolf Hugo Wolf was born on March 13, 1860 in Windischgrätz, Austria in the province of Lower Styria.
He was the fourth son of a currier-musician, Philipp Wolf, who taught Hugo to play piano, organ and violin. In 1875, at the age of 15, Hugo entered the Vienna Conservatory with Gustav Mahler. Over the next few years, he composed over fifty songs, in hopes of studying with a master musician such as Johannes Brahms.
Biography (Continued) In 1884, he was hired as a music critic for “Wiener Salonblatt”, heavily criticizing Brahms’ works, while sympathizing with Wagner.
By the end of 1891, he had put out almost his entire compositional output Preceding his death in 1903, Hugo spent four miserable years in and out of the insane asylum. He continued to battle syphilis until his death on February 22, 1903 at the young age of 43.
Wolf’s Style Wolf’s vocal songs are characterized by progressive tonality in the piano accompaniment as well as in the voice parts, pushing the limits of 19th century tonality. Wolf is known for his small-scale masterpieces known as “lieder”. His chosen texts are often full of anguish and inability to find resolve. His use of formal structure is reflected in his text settings, advocating text painting.
Wolf’s Musical Influences Wagner and chromaticism Schumann and Schubert’s early lieder Carl Loewe’s ballads Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and opera
Wolf’s Song Collections and Printed Sources Wolf, H: Morike and Goethe Songs Wolf, H: Goethe Lieder Wolf, H: Italianisches Liederbuch Wolf, H: Spanisches Liederbuch Songs of the Romantic Age Songs of Spring
Berg: String Quartet/Lyric Suite/Wolf: Italian Serenade Debussy/Borodin/Wolf: String Quartets Allen, Thomas: Songs by Beethoven, Wolf,Butterworth, Vaughan Williams, Bridge Reyer, E.: Classic Moods Maltman, Christopher: Songs by Schubert, Wolf, Debussy, Duparc, Warlock Schumann/Wolf: Eichendorff Songs
Wolf’s Song Output and Famous Song Cycles Wolf composed over 300 songs in his lifetime including: the comic opera, Der Corregidor (1895) the unfinished opera, Manuel Venegas ( 1897) 53 Mörike-Lieder (1888 20 Eichendorff-Lieder (1889) 51 Goethe-Lieder (1890) 44 Spanisches Liederbuch (1891) 46 Italienisches Liederbuch (1892, 1896) 3 Michelangelo Lieder (1897) String Quartet in D minor (1878-84) symphonic poem Penthesilea (1883-85) Italian Serenade (1887, revised in 1892).
Wolf’s Representative Songs “Nun wandre, Maria” “Herr, was trägt der Boden hier”
"Cophtisches Lied I' by Goethe "Mein Liebster ist so klein" ,
"Zur Ruh, zur Ruh"
Maria, nun wandre nur fort”: “Ride Onward, Sweet Mary”
Ride onward, sweet Mary, ride onward, keep on The roosters are crowing, we‘re nearing the town. Ride onward, beloved, where comfort awaits, And then you may slumber safe and warm. The roosters are crowing, we‘re nearing the town. See how you falter, weak and weary Nor can I ease your pain, dearest Mary. Take heart, for shelter awaits us The cocks are crowing, we‘re nearing the town.
Oh! That your time had arrived, little dear, Good news that I‘d give anything to hear. This donkey I‘d give if it were done The roosters are crowing, we‘re nearing the town.
“Die ihr schwebet”: “Make Your Way Silently, Holy Angels” Make your way silently, Holy angels; So that my child may sleep, Spread your wings over him. You palms of Bethlehem, You who are swaying So raucously In the blowing wind, Be silent, Move gently, So that my child may sleep, Spread your wings over him. The divine child is weary of the mourning in the world, He desires quiet, He desires a little rest, From the subdued weeping: So that my child may sleep, Spread your wings over him.
A chill is approaching him, Don't you see that I don't have anything to cover him, Holy angels, you who can fly: So that my child may sleep, Spread your wings over him.
“Ach des knaben, Augen”: “Ah, The Boy’s Eyes” Ah, the boys eyes Look so beautiful and clear, And something shines from them That wins my whole heart.
If he would only look With his sweet eyes into my own, If he then saw his image therein, Perhaps he would greet me lovingly.
And so I give myself completely, Only to serve his eyes, Because something shines from them That wins my whole heart.
Bibliography Wolf, ‘Spanisches Liederbuch’ – Christine Schäfer, Matthias Goerne, Eric Schneider – Wolf Centenary Concert, Wigmore Hall 22nd February 2003 (ME) http://www.musicwebinternational.com/SandH/2003/Feb03/Wolf_Spanische.htm
http://www.christianmusic.com/cheryl_anne_roach/cheryl_anne_roach.htm New Grove Music Dictionary http://classicalplus.gmn.com/composers/composer.asp?id=216 http://www.jstor.org/pss/936004 “Hugo Wolf “ by Deryck Cooke The Musical Times, Vol. 101, No. 1405 (Mar., 1960), pp. 153-154 Musical Times Publications Ltd. “The Songs of Hugo Wolf “ by Frederic Austin Proceedings of the Musical Association, 38th Sess., (1911 - 1912), pp. 161-169 , Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Royal Musical Association “Hugo Wolf as Musical Critic “ by Ernest Newman The Musical Times, Vol. 53, No. 834 (Aug. 1, 1912), pp. 506-508 Musical Times Publications Ltd. “Johannes Brahms shed by: and Hugo Wolf: A Biographical Parallel “Alfred von Ehrmann and Barbara Lattimer The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Oct., 1943), pp. 458-465 Oxford University Press “Wolf's Spanish and Italian Songs “ by Frank Walker Music & Letters, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Oct., 1944), pp. 194-209 Oxford University Press