Cover image for Zemlinsky
Beaumont, Antony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 524 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.Z43 B42 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Following his English edition of Alma Mahler-Werfel's Diaries 1898-1902, Antony Beaumont presents both the first comprehensive biography of the composer and conductor Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942) and a critical assessment of his works.

"Zemlinsky--all hail to you!" wrote the young Alma. "All hail to you and your art." When she first met him, Zemlinsky was the most promising Viennese composer of his generation. In 1901, when Alma abruptly ended their passionate love affair in order to marry Gustav Mahler, the crisis served to transform Zemlinsky's talent into mastery. Only long after his death, however, did his music begin to receive its due. Zemlinsky was central to the musical life of Vienna and Central Europe, and this brilliant biography illuminates a social and cultural milieu that disappeared forever with the triumph of Hitler's Reich.

Beaumont details the composer's early years as a protégé of Brahms and Mahler, his complex friendship with his brother-in-law Arnold Schoenberg, the influence of his teaching on the boy-prodigy Erich Korngold, his kindly and helpful attitude toward the hypersensitive Anton Webern, and his heartfelt friendship with Alban Berg. Zemlinsky was one of the leading conductors of the interwar period, considered by both Schoenberg and Stravinsky the finest they had ever heard. Beaumont charts Zemlinsky's career from Vienna to Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Prague, providing insight into his Catholic-Sephardic background and investigating his keen interest in esoteric aspects of music, including color symbolism and numerology. The author's analyses of Zemlinsky's major scores are accessible and fully contextualized.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Born in 1871, Alexander Zemlinsky, a protege of Brahms and Mahler, was regarded as the most promising Viennese composer of his generation. His music was to be eclipsed, however, by that of his more musically radical pupil, Arnold Schoenberg, who married his sister. Zemlinsky was also a conductor who worked and traveled throughout Central Europe encouraging many younger composers. Beaumont traces Zemlinsky's career in a thoroughly researched and brilliantly written volume that is the only substantial biography of the composer written in English. In addition, the author offers insightful, accessible analyses of several of Zemlinsky's compositions. Included are 94 musical examples, eight pages of photographs, and 22 pages of notes. Appendix 1 lists known dates of compositions and publications, lost or incomplete works, and the location of manuscripts. Appendix 2 lists recordings. This carefully documented book belongs in every music library and will be of interest to anyone who wishes to explore the social and cultural milieu that disappeared with the triumph of Hitler's Reich. Undergraduate and graduate collections. W. Ross; University of Virginia