Ernst Toch

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Ernst Toch

Ernst Toch (German: [ˈtɔx]; 7 December 1887 – 1 October 1964) was an Austrian composer of classical music and film scores. He sought throughout his life to introduce new approaches to music.

Biography[edit]

Toch was born in Leopoldstadt, Vienna, into the family of a humble Jewish leather dealer [1] when the city was at its 19th-century cultural zenith. He studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, medicine at Heidelberg and music at the Hoch Conservatory (1909–1913) in Frankfurt.[2] His main instrument was the piano, and he was a pianist of real stature, performing to acclaim throughout much of western Europe. Much of his writing was intended for the piano.

Toch continued to grow as an artist and composer throughout his adult life, and in America came to influence whole new generations of composers. His first compositions date from c. 1900 and were pastiches in the style of Mozart (quartets, 1905 album verses for piano). His first quartet was performed in Leipzig in 1908, and his sixth (Opus 12, 1905) in the year 1909. In 1909, his Chamber Symphony in F major (written 1906) won the Frankfurt/Main Mozart prize. From this time onwards, Toch dedicated himself to being a full-time composer. He won the Mendelssohn prize for composition in 1910. In 1913, he was appointed lecturer of both piano and composition at the College of Music in Mannheim. After winning a further five major prizes for his works, he served four years in the army on the Italian Front during World War I. In 1916, he married Lilly Zwack, the daughter of a banker.

After World War I, he returned to Mannheim to compose, developing a new style of polyphony. He received his Ph.D. degree from Heidelberg University in 1921. He then taught on the faculty of the Mannheim Conservatory where one of his pupils was Hugo Chaim Adler.

Following Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Toch went into exile, first to Paris and then London, where he wrote film scores. In 1935, he accepted an invitation from the New School for Social Research to go to New York. He could, however, only secure his living in California by composing film music for Hollywood. Unlike his colleague Erich Wolfgang Korngold, however, Toch never got much attention in the industry and was rarely top-billed. His score for the chase scene in Shirley Temple's 1937 Heidi perhaps remains his best-known piece of film music.

During his residence in California, he was a professor at the University of Southern California, where he taught both music and philosophy. He was also a guest lecturer at Harvard University. He wrote a book on music theory, The Shaping Forces in Music (1948). From 1950 on, he composed seven symphonies, the third of which (Opus 75, 1954) received the Pulitzer Prize three years later. In these later works, he returned to the late Romantic style of his early years.

In 1958, he received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grand Merit Cross).

He died in Santa Monica, California, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He is the grandfather of authors Lawrence Weschler and Toni Weschler.

Work[edit]

His works often exhibit a humorous aspect (Bunte Suite (1929)). In 1930 he invented "Gesprochene Musik," the idiom of the "spoken chorus". His most performed work is the Geographical Fugue or Fuge aus der Geographie, which he himself regarded as an unimportant diversion. He wrote music for films, symphonies, chamber music, chamber operas. He also wrote books dealing with musical theory: Melodielehre (1923) and The Shaping Forces in Music (1948).

Toch was considered one of the great avant-garde composers in the pre-Nazi era. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1956 for his Third Symphony (premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on December 2, 1955). His notable students include Richard Wernick, André Previn, and Mel Powell.

Works[edit]

Symphonies[edit]

  • Symphony No. 1, Op. 72 (1950) (pub. 1951)
  • Symphony No. 2, Op. 73 (1951) (pub. 1953)
  • Symphony No. 3, Op. 75 (1955) (pub. 1957)
  • Symphony No. 4, for orchestra and speaker, Op. 80 (1957) (pub. 1960)
  • Symphony No. 5 ‘Jephtha, Rhapsodic Poem’, Op. 89 (1963) (pub. 1965)
  • Symphony No. 6, Op. 93 (1963) (pub. 1966)
  • Symphony No. 7, Op. 95 (1964) (pub. 1968)

Concertos[edit]

  • Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 35 (1924) (pub. 1925)
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, (Piano Concerto No. 1), Op. 38 (1926) (pub. 1926)
  • Symphony for Piano and Orchestra, (Piano Concerto No. 2), Op. 61 (1933) (pub. 1933)

Other orchestral works[edit]

Chamber works[edit]

  • String Quartet no. 6 in A minor, Op. 12 (1904–1905) (Unpublished)
  • Chamber Symphony in F major, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, cello and bass (1906) (Unpublished)
  • String Quartet no. 7 in G major, Op. 15 (1908) (Unpublished)
  • Vom sterbenden Rokoko (From the Dying Rococo), for violin and piano, Op. 16 (1909) (pub. 1910)
  • Duos for Two Violins, Op. 17 (1909) (pub. c. 1910)
  • Romanze, for violin and piano (c. 1910) (pub. 1911)
  • Serenade for Three Violins, Op. 20 (1911) (pub. 1912)
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 21 (1912) (Unpublished)
  • Serenade (Spitzweg) for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 25 (1916) (pub. 1921)
  • String Quartet no. 8 in D-flat major, Op. 18 (1910) (pub. 1911)
  • String Quartet no. 9 in C major, Op. 26 (1919) (pub. 1920)
  • String Quartet no. 10 on the Name ‘Bass’, Op. 28 (1920) (pub. c. 1923)
  • Tanz-Suite (Dance Suite), for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, bass and percussion, Op. 30 (1923) (pub. 1924) (optional add. strings)
  • String Quartet no. 11, Op. 34 (1924) (pub. 1924)
  • Two Divertimentos for String Duet, Op. 37 (No. 1: violin and cello / No. 2: violin and viola) (1925) (pub. 1926)
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 44 (1928) (pub. 1928)
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 50 (1929) (pub. 1929)
  • String Trio, for violin, viola and cello, Op. 63 (1936) (pub. 1955)
  • Quintet for Piano, Two Violins, Viola and Cello, Op. 64 (1938) (pub. 1947)
  • String Quartet no. 12, Op. 70 (1946) (pub. 1949)
  • Dedication, for string quartet or string orchestra (1948) (pub. 1957)
  • Adagio Elegiaco, for clarinet & piano (1950) (pub. 1987)
  • String Quartet no. 13, Op. 74 (1953–1954) (pub. 1961)
  • Sonatinetta, for flute, clarinet and bassoon, Op. 84 (1959) (pub. 1961)
  • Three Impromptus for Unaccompanied String Instruments, Op. 90a (violin), 90b (viola), 90c (cello) (1963) (pub. 1965)
  • Quartet for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Viola, Op. 98 (1964) (pub. 1967)

Works for wind ensembles[edit]

  • Spiel für Blasorchester (Divertimento for Wind Orchestra), Op. 39 (1926) (pub. 1926; Donaueschingen première)
  • Miniatur Ouvertüre for 2 flutes, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 trumpets, trombone and percussion (1932) (pub. 1932)
  • Five Pieces for Wind Instruments and Percussion, Op. 83 (1959) (pub. 1961)
    for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns and percussion
  • Sinfonietta for Wind Instruments and Percussion, Op. 97 (1964) (pub. 1967)
    for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets and percussion

Piano works[edit]

The music accompanying this molecular modelling piece is based on Toch's Burlesques for piano.
  • Melodische Skizzen (Melodic Sketches), Op. 9 (1903) (pub. c. 1903-1905)
  • Three Preludes, Op. 10 (c. 1903) (pub. unknown)
  • Scherzo in B minor, original piano version, Op. 11 (1904) (pub. c. 1905)
  • Stammbuchverse (Album Verses), Op. 13 (1905) (pub. 1905)
  • Begegnung (Meeting) (1908) (Unpublished)
  • Reminiszenzen (Reminiscences), Op. 14 (1909) (pub. 1909)
  • Canon (Aus Dem ‘Tagebuch) (1914) (pub. 1915)
  • Burlesken (Burlesques), Op. 31 (1923) (pub. 1924)
  • Three Piano Pieces, Op. 32 (1924) (pub. 1925)
  • Capriccetti, Op. 36 (1925) (pub. 1925)
  • Tanz-und-Spielstücke (Pieces for Dancing and Playing), Op. 40 (c. 1926) (pub. 1927)
  • Sonata for Piano, Op. 47 (1928) (pub. 1928)
  • Kleinstadtbilder (Echoes From a Small To), 14 Moderately Easy Piano Pieces, Op. 49 (1929) (pub. 1929)
  • 5 × 10 Etudes, Op. 55-59 (1931) (pub. 1931)
  • Profiles, Op. 68 (1946) (pub. 1948)
  • Ideas, Op. 69 (1946) (pub. 1947)
  • Diversions, Op. 78a (1956) (pub. 1958)
  • Sonatinetta, Op. 78b (1956) (pub. 1958)
  • (Untitled canon) (1959) (Unpublished)
  • Three Little Dances, Op. 85 (1961) (pub. 1962)
  • Reflections, Op. 86 (1962) (pub. 1962)
  • Sonata for Piano Four-Hands, Op. 87 (1962) (pub. 1963)

Other solo instrumental works[edit]

  • Three Original Pieces for the Electric Welte-Mignon Piano (1926) (Unpublished)
  • Studie, for mechanical organ (1927) (Unpublished)
  • Two Études for Violoncello Solo (1930) (pub. 1931)

Operas[edit]

Choral works[edit]

  • An mein Vaterland (To My Fatherland), Op. 23 (1913) (Unpublished)
    for large orchestra, organ, solo soprano, mixed chorus & boys’ chorus
  • Gesprochene Musik (Speaking Music), (1930). Only No. 1 of 3 published:
  • Geographical Fugue, for speaking chorus (1930) (pub. 1950) No. 1 of 3 from Gesprochene Musik
  • Der Tierkreis (The Zodiac), for women’s chorus (1930) (Nos. 1 and 2 pub. 1930; No. 3 unpublished)
  • Das Wasser (The Water), Cantata after a text by A. Döblin, Op. 53 (1930) (pub. 1930)
    for tenor, baritone, narrator, chorus, flute, trumpet, percussion & strings
  • Cantata of the Bitter Herbs, Op. 65 (1938) (pub.?)
    for solo soprano, alto, tenor & baritone, narrator, chorus & orchestra
  • The Inner Circle, six a cappella choruses for mixed chorus, Op.67 (1945, revised 1953) (pub. 1953)
    Cui bono (Thomas Carlyle) / The Lamb (William Blake) / Extinguish my eyes (Rainer Maria Rilke) / O World, thou chosest not (George Santayana) / Have you not heard his silent step (Rabindranath Tagore) / 6. Goodbye, proud world (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • Phantoms, Op.81 (1957) (pub.?)
    for male and female speakers, women’s speaking chorus, flute, clarinet, vibraphone, xylophone, timpani & percussion
  • Song of Myself, for mixed chorus (1961) (pub. 1961)
  • Valse (Waltz), for speaking chorus & optional percussion (1961) (pub. 1962)

Other vocal works[edit]

Incidental music[edit]

  • Der Kinder Neujahrstraum (The Children’s New Year’s Dream) (stage play), Op. 19, for solo soprano, alto, tenor & baritone, chorus & orchestra (1910)
  • Anabasis (radio play), for flute, clarinet, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, percussion & chorus (1931)
  • Im fernen Osten (In the Far East) (radio play), for flute, 2 trumpets in C, mandolin, guitar, 2 violins, viola, cello, percussion, chorus & male solo voice (1931)
  • Die Heilige von U.S.A. (The Saint of the U.S.A.) (stage play), for wind ensemble, percussion, piano, harmonium, alto solo & chorus (1931)
  • König Ödipus (Oedipus Rex) (radio play), for 2 clarinets, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion & strings (1931)
  • Medea (radio play), for wind ensemble, percussion & speaking chorus (1931)
  • Die Räuber (The Robbers) (radio play), for 2 trumepts in C, bass trumpet or trombone & percussion (1931)
  • Die Rollen des Schauspielers Seami (The Roles of the Actor Seami) (radio play), for flute, clarinet, violin, banjo, guitar & percussion (1931)
  • Turandot (radio play), for flute, clarinet, trumpet in C, cello, piano & percussion (1931)
  • Uli Wittewüpp (stage play), for clarinet, trumpet, percussion, piano & strings (1931)
  • Napoleon, oder die 100 Tage (Napoleon, or the 100 Days) (radio play) (1931 or 1932)
  • Das Kirschblütenfest (The Cherry Blossom Festival) (stage play), for timpani, percussion, harmonium & strings (1927)
  • The Gates of Carven Jade or The Garden of Jade (radio play), for flute, clarinet, banjo, guitar, violin & soprano solo (c. 1934)
  • William Tell (stage play), for flute, 2 clarinets, bassoon, trumpet, horn, 2 trombones, percussion and chorus (1939)

All incidental music listed is unpublished except Das Kirschblütenfest (pub. 1927).

Film music[edit]

Books[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Introduction to the Dover edition, The Shaping Forces in Music, Ernst Toch, Dover Publications, 1977.
  2. ^ Peter Cahn: Das Hoch'sche Konservatorium in Frankfurt am Main (1878-1978), Frankfurt am Main: Kramer, 1979
  3. ^ Theater in Bielefeld 1975-1998, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, Redaktion Heidi Wiese, Heiner Bruns, Alexander Gruber, Fritz Stockmeier 1998, ISBN 3-933040-03-5
  4. ^ Toch, Ernst: "The Shaping Forces in Music", pg. 240-257, Dover Publications, Inc., 1977, Library of Congress: 76-9950, Checklist of Compositions by Lawrence Weschler

References[edit]

External links[edit]