Ernst Toch

Ernst Toch ( born December 7, 1887 in Vienna, † October 1, 1964 in Santa Monica, California, United States) was an Austrian composer in the transition from the style of neo-classicism to modernity.


Toch raised in Vienna, studied piano with the pianist and writer Ida Mikolasch and other instruments, and studied at the Universities of Vienna and Heidelberg philosophy and medicine (1921 PhD in Heidelberg on contributions to the stylistics of the melody). His compositional work he began in 1900 as an autodidact with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a model ( string quartets, 1905 Studbook verses for piano).

One of his first string quartet was premiered in 1908 in Leipzig, his sixth ( Opus 12, 1905) in 1909. His Chamber Symphony in F major of 1906 received 1909 Mozart Prize of the City of Frankfurt am Main. This was the reason to keep music fulltime for Ernst Toch. In 1910 he was awarded the Mendelssohn Prize for composition. He studied piano and composition ( Dr. Hoch's Conservatory from 1909 to 1913 ) and was appointed in 1913 for these two subject areas at the Musikhochschule Mannheim.

After five great prices (including several times Austrian State Prize ) he was in 1914 for 4 years a soldier in the imperial army on the Isonzo front. In 1916 he married the banker's daughter Lilly Zwack and returned to the First World War to Mannheim, where he continued to teach until 1928 and developed a new style of polyphony:

  • 9 String Quartet, Op 26 (1919)
  • Radio - activity, together with Paul Hindemith
  • Contract with the music publisher Schott and now a freelance composer
  • Fugue from the geography for speaking choir ( 1930).

Activities in other places and his Piano Concerto made ​​him more widely known:

  • For the Donaueschingen Chamber Music Festival on July 25, 1926: Three Pieces (Study I-III) and a processing (Study IV, The Juggler ) for Welte-Mignon Piano ( 1926).
  • Five Capriccetti (1925 )
  • Piano Concerto in 1926: numerous performances with the most important performer and conductor ( Gieseking, Monteux, Ney, Furtwängler and others)
  • 1932 first big U.S. tour.

In 1921 he earned his doctorate at the University of Heidelberg with a thesis on the stylistics of the melody. Toch also wrote four works for wind band, one of them (op. 39) was first performed in 1926 in Donaueschingen together with a respective band music composition by Ernst Krenek, Ernst Pepping, Paul Hindemith and Hans Gál. The excitation of the composition came from Paul Hindemith, who himself also composed a work for this festival.

In Berlin, where his family had followed him in 1928, created the music dramas 1927-1928 The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen, the sculptor Benno Elkan for him wrote the libretto, and Egon and Emilie ( Christian Morgenstern ). The opera Capriccio The subjects followed 1930.

After Adolf Hitler came to power he went into exile in 1933 after Paris and London, where he wrote film scores. In 1935, he accepted an invitation to New York (New School for Social Research ), where the Big Ben variations emerged. But his livelihood he could only secure in California by film compositions for Hollywood.

As a professor at the University of Southern California, he had next to composition and to represent philosophy and held guest lectures at Harvard University. The there performed music theory he summarized in the journal The Shaping Forces in Music ( 1948 German The creative powers of Music, 2005) together. From 1950, he composed seven symphonies large, for their third ( op.75, 1954) he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize three years later. In these late works, he returned to the late Romantic style of his early days.

Some years after the Grammy Award (1960 ), he called himself "the world's most forgotten composer of the 20th century". But this group is probably bigger than he said at the time.




  • Melody teaching. Written in 1914, printed in Berlin in 1923, Max Hesse ( = Max Hesse's manuals Bd.69 ), 183 pages.
  • The Shaping Forces in Music. An Inquiry into the Nature of Harmony, Melody, Counterpoint and Form. New York 1948; German translation by Hermann J. Metzler, under the title The creative powers of music. An introduction to the mechanisms of action of harmony, melody, counterpoint and form. Mirliton, Hofheim 2005 ( with ausführl. Catalog of works and discography ), ISBN 978-3-936000-99-3.


Orchestral works

Film Music

Choral works

Chamber Music


Piano Pieces

  • Melodic sketches op.9
  • Burlesque op.11
  • Burlesque op.31
  • Capriccetti op.36
  • Sonata op.47
  • Small city op.49
  • 10 Concert Etudes op.55
  • 10 lecture etudes op.56
  • Diversions op.78a
  • Sonatinetta op.78b;
  • Reflections op 86