Stefan Wolpe

Biography

Born: August 25, 1902; Berlin, Germany   Died: April 4, 1972; New York, NY  
Stefan Wolpe was a composer notable for providing a fresh perspective on atonality. Despite excursions into popular, folk and jazz idioms, Wolpe continued to compose in atonal styles throughout his career. His works are often characterized by cross-cutting and discontinuity between different musical gestures and textures, quite possibly an influence he gathered from Dadaism. Wolpe was an influential teacher in the United States, where his pupils Read more included Morton Feldman, Ralph Shapey and Charles Wuorinen.

Wolpe spent the early part of his life in Berlin, a stimulating artistic milieu in the 1920s and 1930s. He associated there with the Bauhaus, studied composition with the expressionist composer Schreker, and became a devotee of Busoni. He supported himself as a jazz pianist in cabaret and cinemas.

Wolpe's early compositions use the 12-tone techniques of Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School. From the outset he favored irregular rhythms and contrapuntal textures, and his music is notable for avoiding the isolated points of sound (pointillism) which was common to Schoenberg and his followers. He was also influenced by jazz and popular dance music in such pieces as Tango (1927), and his socialist convictions led him to reflect on the function of music in society. At this time he believed that music should be socially useful; he wrote worker's songs and pieces that satirized society. He also simplified his dense, atonal writing, making it more accessible to people without musical training.

When the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Wolpe fled from the country, traveling through Russia and Rumania before landing in Vienna in 1933-1934, and studied there with Webern. From Vienna he moved to Palestine, where he became interested in his Jewish musical heritage. He absorbed traits of the local music, which found their way into such works as Songs From the Hebrew (1938) for soprano and piano, and the ballet suite Man From Midian (1942). He also wrote songs and choruses for the Kibbutz movement, several of which have become folk songs in Israel.

In 1938 Wolpe moved to New York, where his mature style crystallized. Important works from this period are Enactments (1950-53) for three pianos, Battle Piece (1947) for solo piano, and the notorious Symphony (1956). Wolpe's association with influential artists and musicians continued in America, where he had connections with New York jazz musicians and Abstract Expressionist painters. From 1952-1956 he taught at Black Mountain College with John Cage, David Tudor and Lou Harrison. In the 1950s and early 1960s he regularly lectured at the Darmstadt Summer School. He contracted Parkinson's Disease in 1964, which proved fatal. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 49 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Webern, Wolpe & Feldman / Aleck Karis
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9420 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe,  Morton Feldman,  Anton Webern
    Performer:  Aleck Karis
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  • 2.
    Close Connections / Garrick Ohlsson
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9380 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Weingarden,  Robert Helps,  Stefan Wolpe,  William Hibbard  ... 
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson
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  • 3.
    Tango Perpetuel / Take Four Guitar Quartet
    Label: Ars Musici   Catalog: 233055 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Astor Piazzolla,  Patrick Roux,  Unto Mononen,  Ernesto Nazareth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Take Four Guitar Quartet
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  • 4.
    Dancing: The Jazz Fever Of Milhaud, Martinu, Seiber, Burian & Wolpe
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 30611 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emil Frantisek Burian,  Bohuslav Martinu,  Darius Milhaud,  Mátyás Seiber  ... 
    Conductor:  Werner Herbers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ebony Band
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  • 5.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 6017 Release Date: 08/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe,  Igor Stravinsky,  David Schiff,  David Wooldridge  ... 
    Performer:  John Graham
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  • 6.
    Berlin Im Licht - Piano Music Of The Novembergruppe / Matthew Rubenstein
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300196 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinz Tiessen,  Wladimir Vogel,  Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt,  Felix Petyrek  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Rubenstein
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  • 7.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 538 Release Date: 07/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe,  Raoul Pleskow,  Matthew Greenbaum
    Performer:  David Holzman
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  • 8.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 503 Release Date: 05/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Susan Davenny Wyner
    Conductor:  Arthur Weisberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the 20th Century
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  • 9.
    Music Of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 6 / Holzman
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9344 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  David Holzman
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  • 10.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 306 Release Date: 10/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen,  Stefan Wolpe,  Yehudi Wyner,  George Perle
    Performer:  Robert Miller
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  • 11.
    Ensemble Aventure Plays Schulhoff & Wolpe
    Label: Ars Musici   Catalog: 232155 Release Date: 08/31/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erwin Schulhoff,  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Leo Kern,  Reinhard Roth,  Christian Kohn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Aventure (Germany)
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  • 12.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 233 Release Date: 08/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe,  George Crumb
    Performer:  Harvey Sollberger,  Charles Wuorinen,  Joel Krosnick
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aeolian Chamber Players
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  • 13.
    Lazy Andy Ant - Music Of Stefan Wolpe Vol 5 / Loeb, Boehler
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9308 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Rebecca Jo Loeb,  Ursula Oppens,  Matt Boehler,  Alice Rybak  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quattro Mani
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  • 14.
    Wolpe: Lieder, Battle Piece / Brandt-Sigurdsson, Bassers
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 10719 Release Date: 04/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Johann Bassers,  Grunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson
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  • 15.
    Label: Camerata Records   Catalog: 28105 Release Date: 11/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Cliquet-Pleyel,  Jean Wiéner,  Darius Milhaud,  Stefan Wolpe  ... 
    Performer:  Aki Takahashi
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  • 16.
    The Music Of Stefan Wolpe Vol 4
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9215 Release Date: 04/03/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Heinz Holliger,  James Avery,  Robert Aitken,  Sven Thomas Kiebler  ... 
    Conductor:  James Avery
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  SurPlus Ensemble
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  • 17.
    American Classics - Wolpe: The Man From Midian, Etc
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559265 Release Date: 02/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Jorja Fleezanis,  Garrick Ohlsson,  Cameron Grant,  James Winn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Group for Contemporary Music
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  • 18.
    Stefan Wolpe: Einstein's Address About Peace, Etc
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9209 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Robert Shannon,  Patrick Mason,  Jacob Greenberg,  Leah Summers  ... 
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  • 19.
    Milken Archive - Jewish Music Of The Dance
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559439 Release Date: 09/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Stefan Wolpe,  Lazare Saminsky,  Leon Stein
    Performer:  Alberto Mizrahi
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  Joseph Silverstein,  Jorge Mester,  Stephen Gunzenhauser
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Carmina Choir,  Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Works For Violin - Cowell, Antheil, Mahler, Et Al  / Abe,
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80641 Release Date: 08/22/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Mahler,  Larry Polansky,  Charles Dodge,  Johanna M. Beyer  ... 
    Performer:  Miwako Abe,  Michael Kieran Harvey
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  • 21.
    American Classics - Wolpe / Group For Contemporary Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559262 Release Date: 07/13/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Theodore Arm,  Fred Sherry,  Toby Appel,  Curtis Macomber  ... 
    Conductor:  Harvey Sollberger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Group for Contemporary Music
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  • 22.
    Wolpe In Jerusalem (1933-1938)
    Label: Mode   Catalog: 156 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Conductor:  Johannes Kalitzke,  Werner Herbers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Recherche Ensemble,  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Stefan Wolpe: Enactments
    Label: Hat Hut Records   Catalog: 914028 Release Date: 01/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stefan Wolpe
    Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher,  Josef Christof,  Irmela Roelcke,  Benjamin Kobler
    Conductor:  James Avery
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  • 24.
    Works For Oboe And Piano
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 67163 Release Date: 01/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nikos Skalkottas,  Frank Michael Beyer,  Stefan Wolpe,  Friedrich Goldmann  ... 
    Performer:  Burkhard Glaetzner,  Hansjacob Staemmler
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  • 25.
    Sessions, Wolpe, Babbitt: String Quartets /Juilliard Quartet
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 587 Release Date: 11/29/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Roger Sessions,  Stefan Wolpe,  Milton Babbitt
    Performer:  Robert Mann,  Joel Smirnoff,  Samuel Rhodes,  Joel Krosnick
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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