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
Krenek: Symphony No 3, Etc / Ukigaya, Ndr Hannover
Release Date: 07/18/1995   Label: Cpo  
Catalog: 999236   Number of Discs: 1
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Krenek: Karl V / Soustrot, Pittman-jennings, Hollweg, Et Al
Release Date: 10/23/2001   Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold  
Catalog: 3371082   Number of Discs: 2
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Ernst Krenek: Complete Symphonies
Release Date: 05/29/2012   Label: Cpo  
Catalog: 777695   Number of Discs: 4
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Browse 1-25 of 65 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Glenn Gould in Russia
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: WS121.326 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Alban Berg,  Anton Webern,  Ernst Krenek  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould
    Conductor:  Ladislav Slovák
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Drang in Die Ferne / Belakowitsch, Berner
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 99137 Release Date: 07/21/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  Franz Schubert,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Erwin Belakowitsch,  Christoph Berner
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  • 3.
    Krenek: Complete Piano Concertos / Woods, Korzhev, Huebner, English Symphony
    Label: Toccata Classics   Catalog: 0392 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Mikhail Korzhev,  Eric Huebner,  Nurit Pacht,  Adrian Partington
    Conductor:  Kenneth Woods
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Just a Motion on the Air / Masurenko, Katznelson, Elvekjoer
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 91619 Release Date: 04/21/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Tatjana Masurenko,  Jens Elvekjaer,  Gilad Katznelson
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  • 5.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 6.
    Krenek: Orpheus und Eurydike / Steinberg, Vienna Radio Symphony
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 923162 Release Date: 01/13/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Dunja Vejzovic,  Hans Franzen,  Bo Skovhus,  Celina Lindsley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Chorus,  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Krasa, Tansman & Krenek: String Quartets / Adamas Quartett
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 99109 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Krása,  Alexandre Tansman,  Ernst Krenek
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adamas Quartet
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  • 8.
    Krenek: Reisebuch Aus Den Osterreichischen Alpen, Zemlinsky / Boesch
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 68158 Release Date: 09/02/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  Alexander von Zemlinsky
    Performer:  Roger Vignoles,  Florian Boesch
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  • 9.
    Krenek: Complete Piano Concertos, Vol. 1 / Korzhev, Woods, English Symphony
    Label: Toccata Classics   Catalog: 323 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Mikhail Korzhev
    Conductor:  Kenneth Woods
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Krenek, Vol. 1: George Washington Variations, Sonata No. 4; Schubert/Krenek: Reliquie
    Label: Toccata Classics   Catalog: 298 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko
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  • 11.
    20th Century Concerto Grosso / Marriner, ASMF
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10791 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erwin Schulhoff,  Ernst Krenek,  Vincent D'Indy
    Performer:  Christoph Koncz
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 12.
    Capriccio - 20th And 21st Century Works For Solo Oboe / Enrico Calcagni
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 756 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinz Holliger,  Siegfried Thiele,  Friedrich Schenker,  Luca Belcastro  ... 
    Performer:  Enrico Calcagni
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  • 13.
    Krenek: Works for Violin / Schickedanz, Spegg, Beyer-Karlshoj
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 95666 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Christoph Schickedanz,  Holger Spegg,  Mathias Beyer-Karlshoj
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  • 14.
    Le Rossignol Et La Rose /  Reiss, Spencer
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4104 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Chen Reiss,  Charles Spencer
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  • 15.
    Krenek: Piano Works / Khristenko
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 422 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Stanislav Khristenko
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  • 16.
    Ernst Krenek: Complete Symphonies
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777695 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Nikolai Schneider,  Volker Worlitzsch,  Dimitar Penkov
    Conductor:  Takao Ukigaya,  Alun Francis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
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  • 17.
    Choral Works - Bach, Biber, Brahms, Faure, Krenek, Mahler, Monteverdi
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908520 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Brett,  Ingrid Schmithüsen,  Peter Kooy,  Howard Crook  ... 
    Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe,  Marcus Creed,  Kent Nagano,  Andrew Manze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Chapelle Royale Paris,  Musique Oblique,  Les Petits Chanteurs de St. Louis  ... 
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  • 18.
    Krenek: Symphony No. 4; Concerto Grosso / Francis, NDR Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777210-2 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Volker Worlitzsch,  Dimitar Penkov,  Nikolai Schneider
    Conductor:  Alun Francis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
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  • 19.
    Darmstadt Aural Documents Box 1: Composers - Conductors
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 11060 Release Date: 11/30/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Spoken Word,  Earle Brown,  René Leibowitz,  Wolfgang Fortner  ... 
    Performer:  Earle Brown,  Kurt Redel,  Rose Stein,  Rudolf Klamand  ... 
    Conductor:  Earle Brown,  René Leibowitz,  Wolfgang Fortner,  Ernst Krenek  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Internationales Kammerensemble Darmstadt,  Ungarisches Kammerensemble Budapest,  Ensemble Köln  ... 
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  • 20.
    Krenek: Motets After Kafka, Choral Works / Stein, Rademann
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902049 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Caroline Stein,  Philip Mayers
    Conductor:  Hans-Christoph Rademann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
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  • 21.
    Harmonies - Modern Organ / Martin Haselbock
    Label: Nca   Catalog: 60160 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  György Ligeti,  Cristobal Halffter,  Alfred Schnittke  ... 
    Performer:  Martin Haselböck
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  • 22.
    Ernst Krenek: Symphonic Elegy / Kovacic, Leopoldinum Orchestra
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5033 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wroclaw Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Krenek: Karl V, Kehraus Um St. Stephan / Koenigs, Axelrod
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 9001 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Alexander Mayr,  Matthias Klink,  Dietrich Henschel,  Cassandra McConnell  ... 
    Conductor:  Lothar Koenigs,  John Axelrod
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Silesia Singers,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 24.
    On And Off The Keys - Music For Solo Instruments & Small Ensemble
    Label: Vienna Modern Masters   Catalog: 2027 Release Date: 03/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek,  Vladislav Solotaryov,  Igor Stravinsky,  Javanshir Quliev  ... 
    Performer:  Heinrich Biegenzahn,  Rena Rzaeva,  Inger Wikström,  Christine Olbrich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bohuslav Martinu Brass Quartet of Zlin
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  • 25.
    Entartete Musik - Krenek: Jonny Spielt Auf / Lothar Zagrosek
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436631 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ernst Krenek
    Performer:  Marita Posselt,  Dieter Scholz,  Andreas Korn,  Matthias Weichert  ... 
    Conductor:  Lothar Zagrosek
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Opera Chorus,  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  Chinchilla
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