Othmar Schoeck

Othmar Schoeck ( born September 1, 1886 in Brunnen, Schwyz, † March 8, 1957 in Zurich ) was a Swiss composer and conductor. In the center of his work was the song. Stylistically, his work is committed, " essentially the German - Austrian late Romantic ".


The son of a painter had received early piano lessons. After an apprenticeship at the Zurich Conservatory with Friedrich Hegar, Lothar Kempter, Karl and Robert Attenhoferstrasse friend he visited in 1907 / 08, the master class in composition with Max Reger in Leipzig. He then worked as a choir director and piano accompanist in Zurich. From 1917 to 1944 he led the symphony concerts of the Concert Association of St. Gallen in the local concert hall.

After his return from Leipzig Schoeck created in Switzerland with songs, stages and choral works - including drum beats, op 26, 1915 - quickly gained a reputation as a composer. Schoeck's Penthesilea 1927 one-act opera, Op 39 was first performed ( after Heinrich von Kleist ) at the Semperoper Dresden. There, in 1937 and also the premiere of his four-act opera Massimilla Doni op 50 under the direction of Karl Böhm. His song cycle buried alive, Op 40, written on texts by Gottfried Keller, also showed " the mastery of stylistic devices of new music ." James Joyce in 1935 in a play by the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich impressed enough to one of the poems immediately translate into English. It was later set to music by Samuel Barber and added Three Songs (1972 ) in his work. In the 1930s, however, Schoeck oriented again more on classic models.

Schoeck is one of Switzerland's most important song composers of the 20th century. Among the renowned artists who have a lifetime campaigning for Schoeck, one of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The German baritone took since the 1950s on the most important works by the Swiss composer. Also known Schoeck Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op 16, Violin Concerto quasi una fantasia, Op 21, written for the violinist Stefi Geyer, his Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra, Op 61, his horn concerto op 65 and often played summer Night, Op 58, a piece of pure string orchestra. Schoeck was a friend of Hermann Hesse, with whom he also switched letters, and the painters Franz Wiegele from Nötscher circle.

1925 went Schoeck marriage with the German singer Hilde Bartscher ( 1898-1990 ), which became the most important interpreter of his songs later. 1928 awarded him an honorary doctorate, University of Zurich. After 1933, demand increased in Germany by Schoeck's music. Although he disliked the Nazis in political terms, he participated in the March 1, 1937 without hesitation the Erwin of Steinbach - Prize to what he ankreidete the Swiss press, " was the award but obviously politically motivated. Schoeck saw the price, however, only as a tribute to his artistic work. " Pragmatically, it was probably him, among other reasons, its presence in the major German theaters, so in the premiere of Massimilla Doni 1937 in Dresden or 1943 of The Castle Dürande in Berlin not to put at risk.

1943 Schoeck was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Zurich, where he spent his last years of life. A year later, he suffered a heart attack as a conductor and accompanist put an end to its activities. Despite some performance success, so in 1947, the Concerto for Cello, Schoeck was not satisfied with his late effect. Similarly already Beat A. Föllmi in the New German Biography Vol 23, 2007 (see references ). Föllmi has the unfavorable Schoeck postwar conditions out calls his works " difficult " and also mentions that he had no students. Schoeck died 10 years on. His grave is on the Zurich Cemetery Manegg.

About the artwork

Max Lütolf judges (2011): " Schoeck's conception of art was in the tradition of the 19th century, especially in the adherence to the principle of expression, enshrined. Despite fundamental reservations it opened at the level of compositional specification the achievements of the newer musical art, such as the breaking of tonality, the waiver of a continuous meter, the mixture genre specific features or experimenting in the field of instrumentation. Content circling both the vocal and the instrumental works on topics such as art and life, male and female, mind and body, the pure and the sick, nature, home and country. His refusal to follow the developments of music from the 1920s, disabled Schoeck international recognition. The younger reception of the works Schoeck has however make clear the need for a reassessment of the music-historical position of the composer. "

From renewed interest in the work of Schoeck's highly successful performances of his opera Penthesilea testify in Basel (2007), Dresden ( 2008), Lübeck (2009), Frankfurt am Main (2011), but also the many recordings of Nocturne Op 47 since 1990.

A detailed list of works can be found inter alia in Musinfo.