Hugo Wolf

Biography

Born: March 13, 1860; Windischgraz, Austria   Died: February 22, 1903; Vienna, Austria  
Hugo Wolf, a native of Windischgraz (now Slovenjgradec, Slovenia), in the Austro-Hungarian province of Styria, was born on March 13, 1860 and died on February 22, 1903, three weeks before his 43rd birthday -- like Schubert, German music's first great lieder composer, of tertiary syphilis. Like Schumann, the other great lieder composer (also syphilitic), Wolf died in an insane asylum after trying to drown himself in October 1898. (He had committed Read more himself a year earlier, but was discharged after four months.) Also like Schumann, he composed in manic bursts between periods of depression, once the disease entered its second stage, and like two predecessors, was an unsuccessful composer of stage music.

Wolf completed only one opera, Der Corregidor (1895-1896), based on the same Spanish comedy Falla later used in The Three-Cornered Hat. Indifferently and with difficulty he also composed incidental music for two plays long forgotten. As a teenager, he began but never finished a violin concerto and two symphonies (in 1879 he lost the manuscript of a third symphony while traveling). His orchestral repertory amounts to Penthesilea (after Kleist; 1883-1885), a turbidly scored, Liszt-Wagnerian symphonic poem; Christnacht, a choral work both naive and sublime (1886-1889), and the Italian Serenade (a 1892 arrangement of his charming 1887 Serenade in G for String Quartet).

Despite haphazard education that ended in a series of expulsions, Wolf the lieder composer was possessed of (and by) a psychological insight that revealed as early as 1878 what poured forth later between arid stretches -- some 300 songs, the finest of them both emotionally penetrating and musically profound. Mörike, Goethe (the Mignon - Lieder are incomparable), Kleist, Lenau, and Heine were his favorite German poets, plus Eichendorff when Wolf reached the expressive summit in 1887. For three years prior he had been an outspoken critic -- the only job he ever held -- in Vienna's weekly Salonblatt. Pro-Wagner and anti-Brahms, he was as honest as Berlioz had been, and thus made powerful enemies who took revenge later on. Wolf habitually lived hand to mouth, supported by a circle of friends who provided shelter and sustenance for ten years, and finally in 1896 gave him his own apartment. By then, however, the disease had entered its third stage, and his mood swings alienated many who cared deeply. On September 19, 1897, he cracked -- blaming Mahler, his friend of 20 years and onetime roommate, of sabotaging Der Corregidor at the Hofoper.

In October 1889, Wolf had turned his attention from German poetry to translations of Spanish poets. Between Halloween and the following May, he composed 44 songs called the Spanish Songbook. Then, between September 1890 and December 1891, he composed 22 song translations comprising Part I of an Italian Songbook. Thereafter he didn't write a note of original music until March 1895, when he undertook Der Corregidor, completing all four acts in piano score within twelve weeks. After laboriously scoring it, he wrote twenty-four songs in isolation between 25 March and 30 April 1896 -- Part II of the Italian Songbook. He spent the next months revising Der Corregidor. After setting his last songs in March 1897, three somber sonnets by Michelangelo, Wolf worked tirelessly on another Spanish opera, Manuel Venegas, which amounted to 60 pages of piano score, before his breakdown. Following his death, he was buried alongside Beethoven and Schubert in Vienna's Central Cemetery, impoverished to the end but officially a cultural hero. Read less
Wolf: Morike Lieder / Fischer-Dieskau, Richter
Release Date: 08/14/2015   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186219   Number of Discs: 1
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Wolf: Complete Music For String Quartet / Quartetto Prometeo
Release Date: 05/29/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94166   Number of Discs: 1
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Wolf: Recital / Fischer-dieskau Live In Salzburg 1961
Release Date: 04/20/1994   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 140401   Number of Discs: 1
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Wolf: Italienisches Liederbuch / Fischer-dieskau, Seefried
Release Date: 12/12/1995   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 220901   Number of Discs: 1
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Wolf, Berg: Lieder / Farninger, Valjakka, Et Al
Release Date: 03/28/1995   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 161   Number of Discs: 1
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Hugo Wolf


WORKS
Italienisches Liederbuch: I. Auch kleine Dinge
Italienisches Liederbuch: IV. Gesegnet sei, durch den die Welt enstund
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXIX. Gesegnet sei das Grün und wer es trägt!
Italienisches Liederbuch: III. Ich seid die Allerschönste
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXI. Man sagt mir, deine Mutter woll' es nicht
Italienisches Liederbuch: XLI. Heut Nacht erhob ich mich, um Mitternacht
Italienisches Liederbuch: XL. O wär' dein Haus durchsichtig wie ein Glas
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXVII. Schon streckt' ich aus im Bett die müden Glieder
Italienisches Liederbuch: XVIII. Heb auf dein blondes Haupt
Italienisches Liederbuch: XX. Mein Liebster singt am Haus in Mondenscheine
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXII. Ein Ständchen Euch zu bringen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XLII. Nicht länger kann ich singen from Italienisches Liederbuch
Italienisches Liederbuch: XLIII. Schweig einmal still from Italienisches Liederbuch
Italienisches Liederbuch: XLIV. O wüßtest du, wie viel ich deinetwegen
Italienisches Liederbuch: VI. Wer rief dich denn?
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXI. Wie soll ich fröhlich sein
Italienisches Liederbuch: X. Du denkst mit einem Fädchen mich zu fangen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XIV. Geselle, woll'n wir uns in Kutten hüllen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XLV. Verschling' der Abgrund meines Liebsten Hütte
Italienisches Liederbuch: VIII. Nun laß uns Frieden schließen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXIX. Wohl kenn' ich Euren Stand
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXVIII. Wenn du mich mit den Augen streifst from Italienisches Liederbuch
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXVI. Wenn du, mein Liebster, steigst zum Himmel auf
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXIII. Was für ein Lied soll dir gesungen werden?
Italienisches Liederbuch: XIX. Wir haben beide lange Zeit geschwiegen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXIV. Und steht Ihr früh am Morgen auf vom Bette
Italienisches Liederbuch: XVI. Ihr jungen Leute
Italienisches Liederbuch: IX. Daß doch gemalt all deine Reize wären
Italienisches Liederbuch: II. Mir ward gesagt, de reisest in die Ferne
Italienisches Liederbuch: XVII. Und willst du deinen Liebsten sterben sehen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXIII. Sterb' ich, so hüllt in Blumen meine Glieder
Italienisches Liederbuch: XV. Mein Liebster ist so klein
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXV. Benedeit dir sel'ge Mutter
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXIV. Ich esse nun mein Brot nicht trocken mehr
Italienisches Liederbuch: VII. Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag' erhoben
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXV. Mein Liebster hat zu Tische mich gelanden
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXVI. Ich ließ mir sagen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XI. Wie lange schon war immer mein Verlangen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXVII. Wie viele Zeit verlor ich
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXXII. Was soll der Zorn, mein Schatz
Italienisches Liederbuch: V. Selig ihr Blinden, die ihr nicht zu schauen
Italienisches Liederbuch: XII. Nein, junger Herr
Italienisches Liederbuch: XIII. Hoffärtig seid Ihr, schönes Kind
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXVIII. Du sagst mir, daß ich kein Fürstin sei
Italienisches Liederbuch: XXX. Laß sie nur geh'n


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