Rudi Stephan

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Rudi Stephan
Rudi Stephan, 1930.jpg
Born(1887-07-19)19 July 1887
Died29 September 1916(1916-09-29) (aged 29)

Rudi Stephan (29 July 1887 – 29 September 1915) was a German composer of great promise who, shortly before the First World War, was considered one of the leading talents among his generation.[1] He died in World War I, aged 29.


Stephan was born at Worms, Grand Duchy of Hesse, the son of the privy councillor and politician Karl Stephan [de] who was also the head of the local Richard-Wagner-Verband.[2] Stephan became a composition pupil of Bernhard Sekles at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, and of Rudolf Louis in Munich, where he settled after completing his studies in 1908.[3] He left only a few works: his liking for pointedly neutral titles along the lines of 'Music for ...' has caused him to be seen as a forerunner of the 'New Objectivity' of the post-war era, but his music is in fact in a hyper-expressive late-Romantic idiom which has more plausibly been seen by some as a kind of proto-Expressionism.[1] His father was able to finance the performance of his early works, which at first met with incomprehension, but the premiere of his 1912 Music for Orchestra in Worms was a major critical breakthrough.[2] He completed his only opera, Die ersten Menschen, shortly after the outbreak of the war.[3] It was eventually premiered in Frankfurt, five years after the composer had been shot and killed by a Russian sharpshooter, at Chodaczków Wielki near Tarnopol on the Galician Front, now Ukraine.[2]

His complete orchestral works were recorded by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oleg Caetani.[4]

List of works[edit]


  • Opus 1 for Orchestra
  • Liebeszauber for baritone and orchestra, after Hebbel (1907, rev. 1911)
  • Music for Orchestra [No. 1] (1910)[8]
  • Grotesque for violin and piano
  • Music for Violin and Orchestra (1910, rev. 1913)
  • Music for Seven Stringed Instruments (2 violins, viola, violoncello, doublebass, harp and piano) (1907–11; unfinished revision for piano quintet, 1914)[8]
  • Music for Orchestra [No. 2] (1912, rev. 1913) [NB this work is often said to be a revision of the 1910 Music for Orchestra, but they are in fact unrelated]
  • Die ersten Menschen (1909–14), opera after the erotic mystery-play by Otto Borngräber[8]


  1. ^ a b Brand, Juliane (2001). "Rudi Stephan". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.
  2. ^ a b c Hanstein, Johannes (1 May 2004). "Rudi Stephan". (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b Willaschek, Wolfgang. "Neues schaffen aus Nichts / Leben und Werk Rudi Stephans". Funkstunde (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  4. ^ Barnett, Rob (April 2006). "Stephan: Orchestral Works CHSA5040". musicweb-international (Classical CD Reviews). Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Rudi Stephan". Schott Music. 29 September 1915. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  6. ^ Lehr, Hartwig. "Stephan, Rudi". Deutsche Biographie (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  7. ^ Hillenbrand, Markus. "Klassika: Werkverzeichnis Rudi Stephan (1887-1915)". Klassika (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Leichtentritt, Hugo (1924). Sonneck, Oscar George Theodore (ed.). "German Music of the Last Decade". The Musical Quarterly. V.10 1924. HathiTrust. hdl:2027/mdp.39015008095179. Retrieved 3 February 2022.

External links[edit]