Women Composers

Composers from Austria

Anton Bruckner

September 04, 1824 - October 11, 1896

Romantic Period

Anton Bruckner received his first music lessons when he was four years old. By the time he was ten, he was good enough to substitute for his father as church organist. He continued to study music for many, many years, until he was well into his forties. Despite his skill and talent, Bruckner suffered from self-doubt and insecurity and was never quite satisfied with the music he composed. He constantly rewrote his works. In his later years, Bruckner taught at the Vienna Conservatory and was imperial court organist in Vienna.

Bruckner's most famous works are his nine symphonies. These were not successful during his lifetime, and well-meaning friends convinced him to make several changes in them, which were not always good. Fortunately, Bruckner saved the original versions of many of the compositions, and after his death these were published. These are the versions that are performed today.

 


Franz Joseph Haydn

March 31, 1732 - May 31, 1809

Classical Period

Franz Joseph Haydn was the most famous composer of his time. He helped develop new musical forms, like the string quartet and the symphony. In fact, even though he didn't invent it, Haydn is known as the "Father of the Symphony."

Haydn was born in the tiny Austrian town of Rohrau, where his father made huge wooden carts and wagonwheels. His mother was a cook. When he was 8, Joseph (he didn't go by Franz) went to Vienna to sing in the choir at St. Stephen's Cathedral, and to attend the choir school. His younger brother Michael joined him a short time later. Joseph could never resist a playing a joke, which got him in trouble at school. Since Michael Haydn was much better behaved than his brother, everyone thought he would be the more successful musician. Wrong!

At first, Haydn struggled to earn a living as a composer. Then, he got a job with a rich, powerful family named Esterhazy. It was Haydn's job to write music for the Esterhazy princes, and to conduct their orchestra. Haydn composed symphonies, operas, string quartets, and all kinds of other music for performance at the Esterhazy court.

Haydn was also a good businessman. Music publishing made him and his music famous all over Europe. After he retired from working for the Esterhazy family, Haydn made two very successful trips to England, where audiences at concerts of his music treated him like a superstar.

 


Gustav Mahler

July 07, 1860 - May 11, 1911

Late Romantic Period

Gustav Mahler, an Austrian composer of the late Romantic period, inspires in his followers a fanatical devotion, much like a huge fan club. For them, hearing Mahler's work is like going to church.

Born in 1860, Mahler was primarily a conductor. After graduating from music school, he slowly worked his way up through the ranks to become head of the Vienna Opera, a position he held for ten years. During his time there he WAS the opera. He chose the works to be performed and the singers and ran all aspects of the production. Mahler was what we would call today a workaholic and often drove his musicians to exhaustion demanding impossible perfection from them.

Late in his life, Mahler went to New York City, first to conduct the Metropolitan Opera and then to lead the Philharmonic Society. He was not successful in America. The audiences did not like him and he was not able to rule his orchestras as he had in Vienna. He left the city without completing his last season and died shortly thereafter.

Mahler is noted primarily for his nine symphonies, which are large, expansive intense works, and for his art songs.

 


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

January 27, 1756 - December 05, 1791

Classical Period

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, where his father Leopold was a violinist and composer. Wolfgang (or Wolferl, as his family called him) was a child prodigy. He composed his first piece of music at age five; he had his first piece published when he was seven; and he wrote his first opera when he was twelve. By the time Wolfgang was 6, he was an excellent pianist and violinist. He and his sister Maria Anna (known as Nannerl) traveled all over Europe performing for royalty.

When he grew up, Mozart moved to Vienna, and tried to earn a living as a pianist and composer. But he had a lot of trouble handling the fact that he was no longer a child prodigy. Mozart was still a musical genius, but after he stopped being a cute kid, people stopped making a big fuss over him. Back then, musicians were treated like servants, but Mozart did not, and could not think of himself as a servant.

Mozart was only 35 when he died. During his short life, he composed in all different musical forms, including operas, symphonies, concertos, masses, and chamber music. Today, he is still considered a genius!

 


Arnold Schoenberg

September 13, 1874 - July 13, 1951

Modern Period

Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna, Austria. Some musicians are destined to be controversial; Schoenberg was one of them. Although he was largely a self-taught musician, and his early works are quite traditional, he soon started composing music that was atonal - that is, not based on the standard scales musicians used up to the end of the 19th century. He then developed a system called twelve-tone music, in which the twelve chromatic notes of a Western scale are arranged arbitrarily into a "tone row." The tone row is then transposed, reversed, inverted (played upside down) or reversed and inverted, and that forms the basis for a composition. Between those four modifications, and the twelve notes of the tone row, there are 48 possible patterns that the composer can choose from. Schoenberg’s first completely twelve-tone composition was his Suite for Piano, composed in 1921-1923.

Many people despised twelve-tone music, and made fun of it. Still, the twelve-tone system had a tremendous influence on other 20th century composers, including Alban Berg and Anton Webern, and Schoenberg is regarded as one of the most significant figures in music history. While some of his later music at times returned to a form of tonality, he and his followers were convinced that their compositions were taking the next logical step in the evolution of Western music.

Like several other Austrian composers, Schoenberg emigrated to the United States in the 1930's to escape the Nazis. He died in California in 1951.

 


Franz Schubert

January 31, 1797 - November 19, 1828

Romantic Period

Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria. In addition to playing several instruments, Franz also sang very well. When he was 10, he was accepted at the Imperial and Royal Seminary, which trained boys for the Court Chapel Choir. That choir still exists today as the Vienna Boys' Choir.

Schubert wrote his first symphonies for his school orchestra, and for friends of the family who used to get together to play -- the whole Schubert family was very musical.

Schubert also wrote piano, choral, and chamber music, but he is probably most famous for composing over 600 songs.

 


Johann Strauss, Jr.

October 25, 1825 - June 03, 1899

Romantic Period

Johann Strauss, Jr. was born in Vienna, where his father was an enormously famous musician. When the elder Strauss decided that Johann, Jr. should be a banker, his mother encouraged him to go into music.

When he was 19, Johann Strauss, Jr. started his own orchestra, and conducted his first public concert. Eventually, people began to realize that the younger Strauss was even better than his father.

Strauss toured internationally with his orchestra. And everywhere he went, he wrote new music dedicated to the places he visited. In addition to all the waltzes and marches he wrote, Johann Strauss, Jr. composed 16 operettas -- a very popular form of entertainment in his day.

 


Women Composers

Composers from Austria

Anton Bruckner

September 04, 1824 - October 11, 1896

Romantic Period

Anton Bruckner received his first music lessons when he was four years old. By the time he was ten, he was good enough to substitute for his father as church organist. He continued to study music for many, many years, until he was well into his forties. Despite his skill and talent, Bruckner suffered from self-doubt and insecurity and was never quite satisfied with the music he composed. He constantly rewrote his works. In his later years, Bruckner taught at the Vienna Conservatory and was imperial court organist in Vienna.

Bruckner's most famous works are his nine symphonies. These were not successful during his lifetime, and well-meaning friends convinced him to make several changes in them, which were not always good. Fortunately, Bruckner saved the original versions of many of the compositions, and after his death these were published. These are the versions that are performed today.

 


Franz Joseph Haydn

March 31, 1732 - May 31, 1809

Classical Period

Franz Joseph Haydn was the most famous composer of his time. He helped develop new musical forms, like the string quartet and the symphony. In fact, even though he didn't invent it, Haydn is known as the "Father of the Symphony."

Haydn was born in the tiny Austrian town of Rohrau, where his father made huge wooden carts and wagonwheels. His mother was a cook. When he was 8, Joseph (he didn't go by Franz) went to Vienna to sing in the choir at St. Stephen's Cathedral, and to attend the choir school. His younger brother Michael joined him a short time later. Joseph could never resist a playing a joke, which got him in trouble at school. Since Michael Haydn was much better behaved than his brother, everyone thought he would be the more successful musician. Wrong!

At first, Haydn struggled to earn a living as a composer. Then, he got a job with a rich, powerful family named Esterhazy. It was Haydn's job to write music for the Esterhazy princes, and to conduct their orchestra. Haydn composed symphonies, operas, string quartets, and all kinds of other music for performance at the Esterhazy court.

Haydn was also a good businessman. Music publishing made him and his music famous all over Europe. After he retired from working for the Esterhazy family, Haydn made two very successful trips to England, where audiences at concerts of his music treated him like a superstar.

 


Gustav Mahler

July 07, 1860 - May 11, 1911

Late Romantic Period

Gustav Mahler, an Austrian composer of the late Romantic period, inspires in his followers a fanatical devotion, much like a huge fan club. For them, hearing Mahler's work is like going to church.

Born in 1860, Mahler was primarily a conductor. After graduating from music school, he slowly worked his way up through the ranks to become head of the Vienna Opera, a position he held for ten years. During his time there he WAS the opera. He chose the works to be performed and the singers and ran all aspects of the production. Mahler was what we would call today a workaholic and often drove his musicians to exhaustion demanding impossible perfection from them.

Late in his life, Mahler went to New York City, first to conduct the Metropolitan Opera and then to lead the Philharmonic Society. He was not successful in America. The audiences did not like him and he was not able to rule his orchestras as he had in Vienna. He left the city without completing his last season and died shortly thereafter.

Mahler is noted primarily for his nine symphonies, which are large, expansive intense works, and for his art songs.

 


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

January 27, 1756 - December 05, 1791

Classical Period

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, where his father Leopold was a violinist and composer. Wolfgang (or Wolferl, as his family called him) was a child prodigy. He composed his first piece of music at age five; he had his first piece published when he was seven; and he wrote his first opera when he was twelve. By the time Wolfgang was 6, he was an excellent pianist and violinist. He and his sister Maria Anna (known as Nannerl) traveled all over Europe performing for royalty.

When he grew up, Mozart moved to Vienna, and tried to earn a living as a pianist and composer. But he had a lot of trouble handling the fact that he was no longer a child prodigy. Mozart was still a musical genius, but after he stopped being a cute kid, people stopped making a big fuss over him. Back then, musicians were treated like servants, but Mozart did not, and could not think of himself as a servant.

Mozart was only 35 when he died. During his short life, he composed in all different musical forms, including operas, symphonies, concertos, masses, and chamber music. Today, he is still considered a genius!

 


Arnold Schoenberg

September 13, 1874 - July 13, 1951

Modern Period

Arnold Schoenberg was born in Vienna, Austria. Some musicians are destined to be controversial; Schoenberg was one of them. Although he was largely a self-taught musician, and his early works are quite traditional, he soon started composing music that was atonal - that is, not based on the standard scales musicians used up to the end of the 19th century. He then developed a system called twelve-tone music, in which the twelve chromatic notes of a Western scale are arranged arbitrarily into a "tone row." The tone row is then transposed, reversed, inverted (played upside down) or reversed and inverted, and that forms the basis for a composition. Between those four modifications, and the twelve notes of the tone row, there are 48 possible patterns that the composer can choose from. Schoenberg’s first completely twelve-tone composition was his Suite for Piano, composed in 1921-1923.

Many people despised twelve-tone music, and made fun of it. Still, the twelve-tone system had a tremendous influence on other 20th century composers, including Alban Berg and Anton Webern, and Schoenberg is regarded as one of the most significant figures in music history. While some of his later music at times returned to a form of tonality, he and his followers were convinced that their compositions were taking the next logical step in the evolution of Western music.

Like several other Austrian composers, Schoenberg emigrated to the United States in the 1930's to escape the Nazis. He died in California in 1951.

 


Franz Schubert

January 31, 1797 - November 19, 1828

Romantic Period

Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria. In addition to playing several instruments, Franz also sang very well. When he was 10, he was accepted at the Imperial and Royal Seminary, which trained boys for the Court Chapel Choir. That choir still exists today as the Vienna Boys' Choir.

Schubert wrote his first symphonies for his school orchestra, and for friends of the family who used to get together to play -- the whole Schubert family was very musical.

Schubert also wrote piano, choral, and chamber music, but he is probably most famous for composing over 600 songs.

 


Johann Strauss, Jr.

October 25, 1825 - June 03, 1899

Romantic Period

Johann Strauss, Jr. was born in Vienna, where his father was an enormously famous musician. When the elder Strauss decided that Johann, Jr. should be a banker, his mother encouraged him to go into music.

When he was 19, Johann Strauss, Jr. started his own orchestra, and conducted his first public concert. Eventually, people began to realize that the younger Strauss was even better than his father.

Strauss toured internationally with his orchestra. And everywhere he went, he wrote new music dedicated to the places he visited. In addition to all the waltzes and marches he wrote, Johann Strauss, Jr. composed 16 operettas -- a very popular form of entertainment in his day.

 


 

Classics for Kids is supported by:

 

© Copyright Cincinati Public Radio