Hugo Weisgall

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Hugo Weisgall

Hugo David Weisgall (October 13, 1912 – March 11, 1997) was an American composer and conductor,[1] known chiefly for his opera and vocal music compositions.

Life and career[edit]

Hugo Weisgall was born in Ivančice, Moravia (then part of Austria-Hungary, later in his childhood Czechoslovakia) and moved to the United States with his parents in 1920 at the age of eight.[2]

Weisgall studied at the Peabody Institute, privately with Roger Sessions, and at the Curtis Institute of Music with conductor Fritz Reiner and composer Rosario Scalero. He later earned a Ph.D. in German literature at Johns Hopkins University. During World War II he was an aide-de-camp to General George S. Patton. After the war he became a professor, and taught at Queens College, the Juilliard School, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, all in New York City. His notable students include composers Dominick Argento, Bruce Saylor and the accordionist/composer William Schimmel.

Weisgall came from a family of several generations of cantors, and maintained a lifelong interest in both sacred and secular Jewish music. In 1992 he was commissioned by the Friends of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary to write a song cycle, Psalm of the Distant Dove, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Other major works include his most ambitious opera, Athaliah (libretto: Richard Frank Goldman, after Jean Racine), and his often-performed Six Characters in Search of an Author (libretto: Denis Johnston, after Luigi Pirandello).

Hugo Weisgall died at the age of 84 on Long Island, New York.[2]

Major works[edit]


Vocal music

  • A Garden Eastward Cantata for soprano and orchestra
  • A Song of Celebration for tenor, soprano, chorus and orchestra
  • Evening Prayer for Peace (Ki el shomrenu) for chorus a cappella
  • Fancies and Inventions for baritone and 5 instruments
  • Fortress, Rock of Our Salvation (Moos tzur) for chorus a cappella
  • Lyrical Interval song-cycle for low voice and piano
  • Psalm of the Distant Dove Canticle for mezzo-soprano and piano
  • So Spake Rabbi Akiba (Omar Rabbi Akiba) for chorus a cappella
  • "Liebeslieder" for Soprano and Piano


  1. ^ "DRAM: Hugo Weisgall: Two Operas and Two Song Cycles". 1960. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Paul Griffiths (March 12, 1997). "Hugo Weisgall, Opera Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times.

External links[edit]