Ursula Mamlok

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Ursula Mamlok (born February 1, 1923) is a German-born, American composer and teacher.

Education and influences[edit]

Mamlok was born as Ursula Meyer in Berlin, Germany, into a Jewish family,[1] and studied piano and composition with Professor Gustav Ernest and Emily Weissgerber until her family fled Nazi Germany following the nationwide pogrom in 1938. Due to American immigration quotas, the family moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador for a short time, finally immigrating to New York City in 1941. Mamlok became an American citizen in 1945.

In New York Mamlok continued her musical studies under the direction of George Szell at the Mannes School of Music, where she studied for four years. She then received a bachelor's and master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Vittorio Giannini. Other teachers include Roger Sessions and Ralph Shapey in composition and Eduard Steuermann, one of the foremost piano pedagogues at the time, in performance.

Though Hindemith was one of her earliest influences, Mamlok credits the works of serial composers, including Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, as having the greatest impact on her compositional style. However, she admits: "My music is colorful, with the background of tonality – tonal centers … I can't shake it completely."


Mamlok composes extensively for small chamber ensembles of various configurations as well as works for piano. However, her compositional oeuvre includes a few pieces for orchestra, including a concerto for oboe. Other works include several songs, as well as works for voice and chamber ensemble. Mamlok's husband, Dwight Mamlok, penned the text for her 1987 song entitled "Der Andreasgarten".

She states about her own compositional style and pieces that:

"My main concern is that the music should convey the various emotions in it with clarity and conviction. It interests me to accomplish this with a minimum of material, transforming it in such multiple way so as to give the impression of ever-new ideas that are like the flowers of a plant, all related yet each one different."

Career and awards[edit]

Also an influential teacher, Mamlok has held many university positions including placements at: New York University (1967–76), City University of New York, Temple University, Kingsborough Community College (1972–75) and the Manhattan School of Music, where she has taught from 1974 until the present day. She is also on the board of the League of Composers/International Society for Contemporary Music.

The recipient of numerous awards, Mamlok had received two National Endowment for the Arts Grants (1974 and 1981), a Fromm Foundation Grant (1994), a Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation (1995) and commissions from various organizations, including the Koussevitzky Foundation, Eastman School of Music, Alaria Chamber Ensemble and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In 1984, When Summer Sang, a chamber work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, was chosen to represent the United States at the International Rostrum of Composers. Mamlok also received a Commendation of Excellence in 1987 "for her contribution to the world of concert music."

The C. F. Peters Corporation, American Composers Edition, McGuinness and Marx, Casia Publishing, and Hildegard Publishing companies have published Mamlok's compositions. Many of her works are available through the composer herself. In 2006, Mamlock moved to Berlin, where she continues to live and work.

A prominent research scholar on the life and work of Ursala Mamlok is Dr. Roxane Prévost of the University of Ottawa.[2]

Notable students[edit]


  • From My Garden, Designs, Sonata – Catherine Tait, violin; Barry Snyder, piano; Music for Violin and Piano by American Women Composers – Gasparo GSCD 300
  • Rhapsody – for clarinet, viola and piano, Earplay – Centaur CRC 2274
  • Panta Rhei – The Francesco Trio; Contemporary American Piano Trios, Vol. 2 – Music and Art CD 933
  • Five Intermezzi for Solo Guitar – Todd Seelye, guitar; Sheer Pluck – Music and Art CD 1032
  • Constellations for Orchestra, Polarities, Der Andreasgarten, Girasol, and String Quartet No. 2 – Ursula Mamlok, CRI CD 806
  • Panta Rhei, Variations for Solo Flute, When Summer Sang, Stray Birds, Sextet – American Masters – Ursula Mamlok, CRI CD 891
  • Spectrum Concerts Berlin http://www.naxos.com/person/Ursula_Mamlok/21267.htm


  1. ^ Janelle Magnuson Gelfand, "The Pioneering Spirit: Women Composers of the Older Generation", in Karin Pendle (ed.), American Women Composers, p.8, 10. Psychology Press, 1997, ISBN 9057021455
  2. ^ Prévost, Roxane. Metrical Reinterpretations in Ursula Mamlok's Panta Rhei, IV (1981) in Canadian University Music Review, No. 23/1-2. Toronto: Canadian University Music Society, 2003.


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