Ernst Krenek

Biography

Born: August 23, 1900; Vienna, Austria   Died: December 23, 1991; Palm Springs, CA  
A study of Viennese-born composer Ernst Krenek's prodigious output is rather like a study of twentieth century music in microcosm. Krenek moved with ease through the various aesthetic and stylistic changes that marked that turbulent century, taking what he considered the best features of each and fusing them into a new language all his own. Born in August of 1900, Krenek began musical training at the age of 6, and later studied privately with Read more Franz Schreker in Vienna before enrolling for formal training with the same at the Berlin Conservatory in 1920.

Krenek's music of the early 1920s (including the Symphony No. 1 from 1921 and the first two string quartets) is chromatically charged and rather angst-ridden; however, a 1924 trip to France, during which he was exposed to the more utilitarian, entertaining aspects of Parisian music (and Stravinsky's neo-Classicism in particular) encouraged him to explore a more accessible style. In 1927 the opera Jonny spielt auf, which fuses jazz idioms to Krenek's own brand of tonality, made Krenek a household name; the work was such a popular success that it eventually received performances in over a hundred cities in eighteen different languages.

From 1925 to 1927 Krenek lived in Kassel and Wiesbaden, serving as assistant manager of those city's operas. After returning to Vienna in 1928 Krenek began questioning his own musical aesthetic, and, upon meeting Alban Berg and Anton Webern, made a serious study of the Second Vienesse School's 12-tone techniques. By 1931, when he began composing the opera Karl V (in celebration of the unifying virtues of Catholicism, as opposed to the degeneration of Germanic society in the 1930s), Krenek was convinced of the merits of serial composition; the opera stands as his first thoroughly dodecaphonic work. Nazi officials were not oblivious to the political subtext of the opera, and the planned 1934 Vienna premiere of the work was canceled by the authorities. Krenek visited the United States in 1937, and when Hitler invaded Poland, Krenek was expelled from Austria and moved across the Atlantic permanently.

Krenek divided the remainder of his life between active composition (he remained prolific until his death in 1991) and teaching duties (first at Vassar College in New York, and later at Hamline University in Minneapolis and as guest professor/lecturer at many other American institutions). Krenek was an American citizen from 1945 on.

In the 1950s and 1960s Krenek began to explore electronic composition (e.g. Spiritus intelligentiae Sanctus for voices and electronic sounds in 1956), and also aleatoric (chance) music (e.g., the 1957 work Sestina). During the last decades of his life Krenek scrupulously avoided all compositional "trends" and "systems," choosing instead to rely on his own musical wits.

In 1992, one year after his death, Krenek's remains were transferred to the city of Vienna, where in later years he had come to be honored as befits a musician of his stature. Read less
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Ernst Krenek


MOST POPULAR WORKS
I. Molto moderato
II. Allegro
III. Allegretto
IV. Allegro moderato
V. Moderato
VI. Allegretto animato
VII. Largetto
I. -
II. -
III. -
IV. -
No. 1. Allegro ma no troppo
No. 2. Andante quasi adagio
No. 3. Vivace
No. 4. Moderato affettuoso
No. 5. Tempo giusto
I. Allegretto
II. Alla marcia, energico
III. Allegro giocoso
I. Allegretto piacevole, animato e flessibile
II. Theme, Canons, and Variations
III. Scherzo: Vivace ma non troppo
IV. Adagio
I. Allegro
II. Adagietto
III. Vivace
IV. Andante
I. Andante
II. Allegretto moderato
III. Andante con moto
IV. Allegro vivace
I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Allegretto
IV. Larghetto
V. Allegro
I. Vivace -
II. Andante con moto -
III. Larghetto -
IV. Subito molto piu mosso -
V. Presto -
VI. A tempo -
VII. Adagio -
VIII. Fuge -
1. Andante sostenuto-Allegro Agitato-Halbes
2. Allegro deciso, ma non troppo-Andante sostenuto - sostenuto-Alle
3. Adagio-Poco agitato-Allegro-Adagio-Agitato
WORKS
No. 1. Overture: Presto
No. 2. Minuet: Allegretto moderato
No. 3. Intermezzo: Andantino sostenuto
No. 4. Rondo: Allegro grazioso e vivace
I. Molto moderato
II. Allegro
III. Allegretto
IV. Allegro moderato
V. Moderato
VI. Allegretto animato
VII. Largetto
Du schöner Berg, der mich anzieht
Von dem Wege kam ich ab
Nun ist es gut, und ich bin wieder heiter
Als ich damals am Strand des Meeres stand
Einleitung
Oh, das ist mein Jonny!
Ein Autogramm! Ein Autogramm!
Du Lumpenkerl!
Sie ist sehr spirituell
Jonny bin ich losgeworden
Ich reise ab!
Ah! Meine Geige, meine Geige ist fort!
Ach, ach, das fehlte mir!
Fräulein Yvonne, auf ein Wort!
Sie kommt zurück
Ich will zu arbeiten versuchen
Ich habe geschlafen und ich habe geträumt
Ich bin wieder da!
Weil du den Sinn deines Lebens
Das ist gewiss der Mann
In diesem Lande sind die Leute sehr komisch
Was willst du mit dem Banjo, Jonny
Hier, hier, an diesem Ort war es
Wer ruft? Wer ruft?
Als ich damals am Strand des Meeres stand
Gott sei Dank! Das ist Jonnys Jazzband!
Oh! Das wurde mir denn noch zu dumm!
Aus Vergnügen! Aus Geschäft!
Er gab mir Nachricht, dass er käme
D-Zug nach Amsterdam
I must have die Geige wieder
Ob er kommt, ob Nachricht kommt
So hat uns Jonny aufgespielt zum Tanz
I. -
II. -
III. -
IV. -
I. -
II. -
III. -
IV. -
No. 1. Allegro ma no troppo
No. 2. Andante quasi adagio
No. 3. Vivace
No. 4. Moderato affettuoso
No. 5. Tempo giusto
I. Allegretto
II. Alla marcia, energico
III. Allegro giocoso
I. Allegretto piacevole, animato e flessibile
II. Theme, Canons, and Variations
III. Scherzo: Vivace ma non troppo
IV. Adagio
I. Sostenuto
II. Andante sostenuto, con passione
III. Rondo
IV. Tempo di minuetto, molto lento
I. Andante con moto - Animato
II. Adagio
III. Allegro assai, vivace
I. Largo
II. Vivace furioso (mit Vehemenz)
III. Adagio (moglichst ruhevoll)
IV. Allegro, poco vivace (piece joyeuse)
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Allegretto - Molto vivace
I. Allegro
II. Adagietto
III. Vivace
IV. Andante
I. Andante
II. Allegretto moderato
III. Andante con moto
IV. Allegro vivace
I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Allegretto
IV. Larghetto
V. Allegro
I. Vivace -
II. Andante con moto -
III. Larghetto -
IV. Subito molto piu mosso -
V. Presto -
VI. A tempo -
VII. Adagio -
VIII. Fuge -
1. Andante sostenuto-Allegro Agitato-Halbes
2. Allegro deciso, ma non troppo-Andante sostenuto - sostenuto-Alle
3. Adagio-Poco agitato-Allegro-Adagio-Agitato
IX. Presto
I. Introduktion: Allegro, grave-poco piu vivo
II. Sonata: Andante
III. Rondo: Vivace
IV. Thema und Variationen
V. Fuge: Allegro deciso