Max Deutsch

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Max Deutsch
Max Deutsch.jpg
Born(1892-11-17)17 November 1892
Died22 November 1982(1982-11-22) (aged 90)
Paris, France
  • Classical composer
  • Conductor
  • Academic teacher

Max Deutsch (17 November 1892 – 22 November 1982) was an Austrian-French composer, conductor, and academic teacher. He studied with Arnold Schönberg and was his assistant. Teaching at the Sorbonne and the École Normale de Musique de Paris, he influenced notable students such as Philippe Capdenat, Donald Harris, György Kurtág and Philippe Manoury. He tried to destroy all his own compositions.


Born in Vienna, Deutsch was a pupil of and assistant to Arnold Schoenberg. He studied under him in Vienna before the First World War; and followed Schönberg as his assistant to Amsterdam in 1921.[1][2] Deutsch was a Fellow and taught at UNESCO, and taught at the Sorbonne (Paris IV) from 1970 to 1971, and finally, from 1972 to the École Normale de Musique de Paris.[2][3][4]

He founded in Paris the theater Der Jüdische Spiegel (The Jewish Mirror), where many works of composers such as Schönberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg were first performed.[3]

Konstantin Stanislavsky commissioned a work which was to become the opera Schach (Chess).[3][5] His "film symphony" Der Schatz (The Treasure) came from a commission from German film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst to provide an original musical score for his 1923 film. In structure, Der Schatz was crafted in two formats: a film score and a stand-alone symphonic work. The five act symphony survived because the manuscript in the latter form was donated to the Deutsches Filminstitut in 1982, shortly before Deutsch died. A score of years later, DeutschlandRadio Berlin collaborated with the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, conducted by Frank Strobel, to produce a record of "this extremely rare and totally unknown symphonic work". The recording became the foundation of a "synchronized restoration" of the film.[1] As film music the "piece is scored for a theater orchestra of the kind typically found in European cinemas of the day". It brings to mind the work of Kurt Weill and Stefan Wolpe, and foreshadows Max Steiner's modernist film scores, adopting expressionist atonal twelve tone leitmotifs. Mood setting and character are developed; pianos appear throughout.[1]

From 1940 to 1945, Deutsch served in the French Foreign Legion.[6] He formed long lasting friendships with Georges Bernanos and Jean Cassou. He was close to Tristan Tzara, Jean Cocteau and Vladimir Jankelevitch. Max Deutsch was a friend of Ferruccio Busoni.[1][3] He died in Paris.

After the Second World War, he devoted himself mainly to teaching music, chiefly following the principles of Schönberg. In Paris, among his hundreds of students, there were composers: Jorge Arriagada, Girolamo Arrigo, Colette Bailly, Sylvano Bussotti, Philippe Capdenat, Gérard Condé, Ahmed Essyad, Jacqueline Fontyn, Sylvia Hallett, Donald Harris, Félix Ibarrondo, György Kurtág, Philippe Manoury, Patrick Marcland, Luis de Pablo, Yves-Marie Pasquet, Kyriakos Sfetsas, Raymond Vaillant; American composers David Chaitkin, Eugene Kurtz, Allen Shearer, and Dean C. Taylor; British composer Nicholas Maw; Canadian-born Srul Irving Glick; Italian Sylvano Bussotti; the conductor Alexandre Myrat; and music critic Heinz-Klaus Metzger.[2][3]


A love of music and music theory ran in the family. His brother was Frederick Dorian (1902-1991). Frederick's name metamorphosed from Friederich Deutsch before he became a naturalized American. Both Deutsch brothers studied under Schönberg in Vienna. Frederick too was a master of music and learned the subject from a number of other sources. Frederick was taught musicology by Guido Adler. He earned a PhD in 1924 with his thesis, "Fugue in the works of Beethoven" ("Die Fugenarbeit in den Werke Beethoven's"). Eduard Steuermann taught him piano. Anton Webern taught him how to conduct and music theory. He spent a four-year stint, beginning in 1930, as a music critic which was capped by a year as a correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung in Paris. Thereafter he became a Carnegie-Mellon University music professor.[7]


Before he died, Deutsch attempted to destroy all of his compositions, so that his only surviving legacy would be his students. However, some of his work survived.[A]

In late 2013, a recording of Deutsch conducting the Suisse Romande Orchestra in a performance of three "master works" by Arnold Schoenberg was released. It includes short lectures by Deutsch on each of the pieces.[6]


  • Schach, opera (1923)
  • Der Schatz, revue (Moulin Rouge) and film music for Georg Wilhelm Pabsts (1923)
  • Die freudlose Gasse (1925)
  • Apotheosis, opera (1972)
  • The Flight, incidental music for the play Tristan Tzara
  • Prayer for us carnal, choral symphony with a text by Charles Peguy
  • Choirs of men from Vinci [4][5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Each sentence or phrase in this haunting project from French poet and publisher Lefebvre (not to be confused with the Marxist philosopher) describes something lost, erased, destroyed, or otherwise unfinished within the life of an artist. Some seem frivolous: “Tintin’s bedroom doesn’t appear in a single album by Hergé.” Others are serious: “The composer Max Deutsch mercilessly destroyed his musical scores, having chosen to leave no trace other than teaching.”[8] Notwithstanding the efforts of Deutsch to destroy his oeuvre, at least a few examples survive.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Lewis, Uncle Dave. "Max Deutsche/Rheinland: Pfalz Staatsphilharmonie / Frank Strobel: Max Detsch: Der Schatz". AllMusic Review. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Harris, Donald (November 2005). "Growing Up American In Paris". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Betz, Albrecht (2008). In Frankreich bisweilen, in Frankreich konstant. Hanns Eisler und Max Deutsch in Michel Cullin und Primavera Driessen Gruber (Hg.): Douce France? Musik-Exil in Frankreich / Musiciens en Exil en France 1933-1945 S.96 (in German). Böhlau, University of Hamburg.
  4. ^ a b "Max Deutsch". Virtual International Authority File. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Werke von und über Max Deutsch in the German National Library catalogue
  6. ^ a b "Max Deutsch Conducts Arnold Schonberg / Deutsch, Max Catalog #: 2100 Spars Code: DDD". Karusel Music. December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  7. ^ Adorno & Lonitz 2006, p. 239.
  8. ^ Lefebvre, Henri; Sweet, Translator, David L, author. "Review: The Missing Pieces". Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved December 26, 2015.


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