a scientific career, and for this reason he was sent to the Gymnasium in Bonn. It was here that he began musical study in leisure hours under K. J. Brambach, who instilled in him a deep interest in the classical tradition of Mozart and Beethoven. Composition came naturally to him, and from the time he was first able to hold pen in hand he was attempting to sketch his musical ideas upon paper. While he was in the Upper School of the Gymnasium at Bonn, he composed his first String Quartet which was performed by a group of musical friends, Schillings playing the viola. As the product of a youthful imagination, this was an amazing work. "The lofty serenity and the clear thematic style of the later Schillings," writes Wilhelm Altmann, "is already discernible, notably in the introduction to the lively first movement which is charmingly written in true quartet style."
Music became so an important an element in Max von Schillings' life that he soon decided to sacrifice a scientific career for a musical one. As a result, he left Bonn for Munich to complete his musical studies. In Munich he met and became a friend of such musicians as Richard Strauss and Ludwig Thuille, and before long he joined them in the organization of a group of enthusiastic and idealistic musicians to
Then he entered upon an active musical career which included the position of chorusmaster at Bayreuth ( 1902), musical assistant to the Intendant of the Stuttgart Theatre ( 1908), and conductor of royal concerts and operatic performances thruout Germany. From 1911 until 1918, Schillings was general music-director at Stuttgart and, in 1912, on the occasion of the opening of the new opera-house at Stuttgart, he received the title of "Von" from the king of Würtemburg. In 1919, Schillings became the director of the State Opera in Berlin succeeding Richard Strauss. Altho his work as conductor was eminently successful he was compelled to resign in 1925 because, thru a dispute with the Prussian Minister of Fine Arts, he incurred the enmity of high officials. For eight years, Max von Schillings was in virtual retirement as conductor. Then, when Hitler ascended to power, he was appointed by the Nazi government as principal conductor at Charlottenburg, a position he held until his death.
He did not attain success as a composer until September 26, 1915 when his most famous work to date, the opera Mona Lisa, was presented in Stuttgart. Previously, he had composed an interesting opera, Ingwelde, which, as Knud Harder has pointed out "notwithstanding its many beauties, is a work which is only a promise of a future fruition, as well as pointing to the neat dramatic talents of the musician." With Mona Lisa--in which Maria Jeritza sang the principal part--Max von Schillings came fully into his own as a composer of German opera. Despite the fact that this work revealed the unmistakable influence of the Wagnerian school, it possessed sufficient merit to establish it as an important addition to modern German opera, and has been performed by leading opera houses thruout the world with considerable success.
"It has," writes Richard Specht concerning the merits of Mona Lisa, "beautiful, broadly flowing and highly inspired themes; it has an exciting and agreeable style built up with a fine and cunning hand. . . . His harmony has distinction,
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Publication information: Book title: Composers of Today:A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations. Contributors: David Ewen - Editor, David Ewen - Compiler. Publisher: H. W. Wilson. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1934. Page number: 232.
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