Alexander Zemlinsky’s music was long unjustly overshadowed by what was regarded as the “more progressive” Second Viennese School. Although Zemlinsky was close friends with its protagonist Arnold Schönberg, he never did take the latter’s radical step into dodecaphony. At the same time, he composed works that were no less original or fully fledged. Composed between 1913 and 1915, his Second String Quartet in particular pushed the contemporaneous understanding of form and tonality to its limits. With just one movement but spanning over 1,200 measures, this multi-faceted work numbers among the most significant contributions to the genre of the time and has long merited a critical new edition.
The Urtext edition by G. Henle Publishers corrects many errors and inaccuracies in the first edition that came to light after careful comparison with the autograph sources in Vienna and Washington. For the first time, too, the metronome markings that survive only in one of Zemlinsky’s letters have been incorporated. Editorial work was kindly supported by the Alexander Zemlinsky Endowment Fund in Vienna.
- String Quartet no. 2 op. 15
From today’s perspective, chamber music seems to play a rather subordinate role in the oeuvre of Alexander Zemlinsky (1871 – 1942), for it is primarily his operas and large-scale orchestral and vocal works that have regained prominence after a certain period of obscurity. Moreover, the majority of Zemlinsky’s chamber music compositions fell in his early creative … more
About the composer
One of the most important conductors and composers of opera in the first third of the twentieth century, who attained the recognition he deserved only in the 1970s.
|1871||Born in Vienna on October 14. Piano instruction beginning at age 4.|
|1884–92||Education at the Conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) in Vienna. Early chamber music in the style of Brahms.|
|1895/96||Founder and director of the amateur orchestra “Polyhymnia,” where he meets Schönberg; beginning of their friendship, though he does not pursue the path to atonality and later criticizes Schönberg’s twelve-tone technique.|
|1900–03||Principal conductor at the Carltheater in Vienna.|
|from 1903||Instructor at the Schwarzwald school, where he teaches Berg, Horwitz, Jalowetz, E. Stein, and Webern.|
|1904–06||Composition of the opera “Der Traumgörge” (“Görge the Dreamer”).|
|1904–11||Music director of the Vienna Volksoper.|
|1907||Conductor at the Vienna Court Opera.|
|1910||Premiere in Vienna of his opera “Kleider machen Leute” (“Clothes Make the Man”).|
|1911–27||Kapellmeister at the German Theater in Prague. Engaged as instructor at the German Academy for Music and Fine Arts, as rector after 1920. Composition of the String Quartet No. 2; the Lyric Symphony, Op. 18 (1922/23); the “Six Maeterlinck Songs,” Op. 13 (1910/1913); and the Wilde operas “Eine florentinische Tragödie” (“A Florentine Tragedy,” premiere 1917) and “Der Zwerg” (“The Dwarf,” premiere 1922).|
|1927–30||First Kapellmeister at the Berlin Kroll Opera under Klemperer. Engaged as instructor at the Academy of Arts (choral class).|
|1933||Premiere in Zurich of the opera “Der Kreidekreis” (“The Chalk Circle”). Return to Vienna because of the Nazi regime.|
|1934||Songs, Op. 22, on poems by Morgenstern and Goethe. Political circumstances prevent his engagements; contracts previously signed are nullified on account of his Jewish heritage.|
|1935–38||Composition of the opera “Der König Kandaules” (“King Kandaules”), which remained unfinished (premiere in 1996, completed by A. Beaumont).|
|1938||Emigration to the United States.|
|1942||Death in New York on March 15.|