Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Wilhelm Kienzl 1857-

WILHELM KIENZL, among the more significant of the older generation of modern Austrian composers, was born in Waizenkirchen on January 17, 1857. As a child, Wilhelm was brought to Graz, and in this Austrian city he lived the major portion of his life. Here, his father, a lawyer, was a prominent public official during his entire life, being elected Mayor of the city in 1861.

A cultural background was his birthright. When, therefore, he revealed that his talent lay in music, encouragement was not slow in coming. When he had acquired the rudiments from local teachers, he was sent to the Prague Conservatory. Then, with Rheinberger at Munich, Kienzl's musical studies were brought to a successful completion.

As a young man, Kienzl met and became a friend of Franz Liszt. Kienzl-- who was serving his musical apprenticeship as a vocal director in Graz--confided to Liszt that his major ambition was to become a composer. Liszt glanced over some of Kienzl's early creations, and told the young composer that his future held enormous promise. He urged the young man to surrender all activities and to delve more deeply into composition.

Equally important, in Kienzl's artistic career, was his friendship with Richard Wagner. For a long while, he lived on terms of intimacy with the entire Wagner family in Villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth--and Wagner's idealism and noble artistic integrity inspired Kienzl. Unfortunately, their friendship was not to persist. Kienzl openly admired Schumann, and the fact that Wagner often made disparaging remarks about Schumann's talent inspired a series of quarrels which ultimately brought an end to their friendship. However, Kienzl remained a perfect Wagnerite-- one of the most vigorous protagonists of Wagner's music-dramas.

1886 first brought Kienzl name to the attention of the German music public when his first opera, Urvasi, was given its première at Dresden. This opera, based upon a subject from Kalidasa, was strongly influenced by the

Wagnerian music-drama, but it enjoyed a popularity because of its rich melodies. While Urvasi was followed by other operas equally well-received, it was not until 1894 that Kienzl finally attained success. In that year, his Evangelimann, his best known work to date, received its first performance. Its success was instantaneous. The following year it was performed thruout all of Germany and Austria, and before long it rivalled Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel as the most popular modern opera among the masses.

While the Evangelimann is Kienzl's most successful effort to date, he did not exhaust himself artistically with this work. In his future compositions--such as his later operas--a greater depth was added to his style. Julius Korngold goes so far as to consider Don Quixote a far superior work to Evangelimann. "It is finer, more subtle, not so vulgarly popular, and endlessly rich in spirit and soul."

However, tho Kienzl has produced music of charm and loveliness, he has never approached first importance. What a critic wrote about his opera Kuhreigen, might very aptly apply to all of the music he has produced. " Kienzl has written often agreeably, tunefully, competently and with little distinction," wrote a critic in the New Music Review, "grazing often dangerously near the

Kienzl: kēn'zl


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 316

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?