Andreae was born in Bern. He received piano instruction as a child and his first lessons in composition with Karl Munzinger. From 1897 to 1900, he studied at the Cologne Conservatory and was a student of Fritz Brun, Franz Wüllner, Isidor Seiss and Friedrich Wilhelm Franke. In 1900 he was a soloist tutor at the Munich Hofoper. In 1902 he took over the leadership of the Mixed Choir of Zurich (Gemischten Chores Zürich), where he remained until 1949, also leading the Stadtsängerverein Winterthur from 1902 to 1914 and the Männerchores Zürich from 1904 to 1914.
From 1906 to 1949 he led the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and from 1914 to 1939 the Conservatory of Zurich. (He was offered the opportunity of succeeding Gustav Mahler as conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1911, but he declined.)
Later he worked as freelance composer in Vienna and worked internationally as a conductor (especially with the works of Anton Bruckner). He composed opera, symphony and chamber music, piano, violin, and oboe concertos, piano music, as well as choir music and songs. He died in Zurich.
He is mentioned in Chapter XXI of Thomas Mann's novel Doctor Faustus, where he is cited as conducting the Thirteen Brentano Lieder by the fictional composer Adrian Leverkühn. This fictional concert is said to have taken place in 1922 in the Tonhalle in Zurich.
His grandson is the conductor Marc Andreae.
- Piano Trio No. 1 in F minor, Op. 1
- Violin Sonata in D major, Op. 4
- String Quartet No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 9
- Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 14
- Six piano pieces for two hands, Op. 20
- Kleine Suite, Op. 27
- String Trio in D minor, Op. 29
- Notturno and Scherzo, Op. 30
- Symphony in C major, Op. 31
- Rhapsody for violin and orchestra, Op. 32
- String Quartet No. 2, Op. 33
- Music for Orchestra, Op. 35
- Piano Concerto in D
- Konzertstück in B minor
- Violin concerto, Op. 40
- Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Violoncello, Op. 43
- Vater unser for mezzo soprano, women's choir and organ
- Das Göttliche for tenor, choir and orchestra, 1900
- Charons Nachen for soloists, choir, and orchestra, 1901
- Schutzgeister, cantata, 1904
- Ratcliff, opera, 1914
- Abenteuer des Casanova, opera, 1924
- Li-Tai-Pe, Eight Chinese songs for tenor and orchestra, 1931
- La cité sur la montagne, festival music, 1942
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