Ernst Toch

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Ernst Toch

Ernst Toch (born December 7, 1887 in Vienna , † October 1, 1964 in Santa Monica , California , USA ) was an Austrian composer in the transition from neoclassicism to modernism .


Toch grew up in Vienna, learned the piano from the pianist and writer Ida Mikolasch, as well as other instruments, and studied philosophy and medicine at the universities of Vienna and Heidelberg (1921 doctorate in Heidelberg on contributions to the history of melody ). He began his compositional activity around 1900 as an autodidact with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a model (string quartets, 1905 scriptural verses for piano).

One of his first string quartets was premiered in Leipzig in 1908 , his sixth ( Opus 12, 1905) in 1909. His 1906 Chamber Symphony in F major received the Mozart Prize of the City of Frankfurt am Main in 1909 . This was the reason for Ernst Toch to pursue music full-time. In 1910 he received the Mendelssohn Prize for Composition . He studied piano and composition ( Dr. Hoch's conservatory 1909–1913) and was appointed to the Mannheim University of Music in 1913 for these two fields . After five great prices (u. A. Several times Austrian State Prize ), he was in 1914 for four years a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian -Armee at the Isonzo . In 1916 he married the banker's daughter Lilly Zwack and returned to Mannheim after the First World War , where he continued to teach until 1928 and developed a new style of polyphony :

In 1919, he composed his ninth String Quartet, Op. 26. He then devoted himself along with Paul Hindemith a radio -Tätigkeit. After composing the cello concerto op. 35 (1925), he received a ten-year contract with the music publisher Schott and was now a freelance composer. In 1930 he wrote his fugue from geography for speaking choir .

Activities in other places and his piano concert made him better known:

In 1921 he received his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg with a thesis on the stylistics of melody. Toch also wrote four works for wind orchestra , one of which (op. 39) was premiered in Donaueschingen in 1926 together with a wind music composition by Ernst Krenek , Ernst Pepping , Paul Hindemith and Hans Gál . The inspiration for the composition came from Paul Hindemith, who also composed a work for this festival.

In Berlin , where his family had followed him in 1928, the musical dramas The Princess and the Pea based on Hans Christian Andersen , for which the sculptor Benno Elkan wrote the libretto , and Egon and Emilie ( Christian Morgenstern ) were written 1927–1928 . The opera - Capriccio Der Fächer followed in 1930.

After Adolf Hitler came to power, he went into exile : in 1933 to Paris and London , where he wrote film music . In 1935 he accepted an invitation to New York (New School for Social Research), where the Big Ben variations were created. However, he was only able to secure his livelihood in California through film compositions for Hollywood .

As a professor at the University of Southern California , he represented philosophy as well as composition and gave guest lectures at Harvard University . He summarized the music theory presented there in the text The Shaping Forces in Music (1948; Eng. The shaping forces of music , 2005). From 1950 he composed 7 great symphonies , for the third of which (op. 75, 1954) he received the Pulitzer Prize three years later . In these late works he returned to the late romantic style of his early days.

A few years after the Grammy Award (1960) he called himself “the world's most forgotten composer of the 20th century”. But this group is probably bigger than he thought at the time.

honors and awards



  • Melody theory. Written in 1914, printed Berlin 1923, Max Hesse (= Max Hesse handbooks, vol. 69), 183 pages.
  • The Shaping Forces in Music. An Inquiry into the Nature of Harmony, Melody, Counterpoint and Form. New York 1948; German translation by Hermann J. Metzler under the title The shaping forces of music. An introduction to the mechanisms of action of harmony, melody, counterpoint and form. Mirliton, Hofheim 2005 (with detailed catalog raisonné and discography), ISBN 978-3-936000-99-3 .


  • 1927: The Princess and the Pea opus 43 - libretto by Benno Elkan
  • 1928: Egon and Emilie opus 46
  • 1930: The fan opus 51
  • 1962: The Last Tale opus 88 - libretto by Melchior Lengyel

Orchestral works

  • 1906: Chamber symphony
  • 1913: To my fatherland opus 23
  • 19 ??: Fantastic Night Music opus 27 (first performance 1929 in Munich)
  • 1925: Concerto for violoncello and chamber orchestra opus 35
  • 1926: Concerto for piano and orchestra opus 38
  • 1926: Play for wind orchestra opus 39 (world premiere in Donaueschingen)
  • 1927: The cherry blossom festival
  • 1928: Colorful suite for orchestra opus 48
  • 1932: Miniature Overture
  • 1933: Symphony for piano and orchestra opus 61
  • 1934: Big Ben, Variations on the Westminster Bell, opus 62
  • 1944: The Covenant (The Rainbow) for speaker and orchestra (= 6th movement of the Genesis Suite )
  • 1950: First Symphony opus 72
  • 1951: Second Symphony opus 73
  • 1955: Third Symphony opus 75
  • 1957: Symphony No 4 opus 80
  • 1963: Jephta, Rhapsodic Poem (Symphony No. 5) opus 89
  • 1963: Sixth Symphony opus 93
  • 1964: Seventh Symphony opus 95
  • 1964: Sinfonietta for Wind Instruments and Percussion opus 97

Film music

Choral works

Chamber music

  • 1923–1924: “Dance Suite” for 5 solo instruments and percussion, opus 30
  • 1905–1961: 13 string quartets
  • 1959: Five Pieces for Wind Instruments and Percussion opus 83


  • 1945/1953: The Inner Circle cycle

Piano pieces

  • 1926: Study I. Original composition for Welte-Mignon
  • 1926: Study II. Original composition for Welte-Mignon
  • 1926: Study III. Original composition for Welte-Mignon
  • 1926: Study IV, The Juggler. (Arranged for mechanical piano )
  • Melodic Sketches op.9
  • Burlesques op.11
  • Burlesque op.31
  • Capriccetti op.36
  • Sonata op.47
  • Small Town Pictures op.49
  • 10 concert studies op.55
  • 10 lecture studies op.56
  • Diversions op.78a
  • Sonatinetta op. 78b;
  • Reflections op.86

See also


  • Peter Cahn: The Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main (1878-1978). Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1979. ISBN 3-7829-0214-9
  • Jack Docherty, Konrad Hopkins: The most forgotten composer of the 20th century: Ernst Toch. In: Filmharmonische Blätter. Issue 6 (June). Berlin 1987, pp. 25-27. ISSN  0930-3154
  • Charlotte E. Erwin: Ernst Toch in America . In: Habakuk Traber, Elmar Weingarten (Ed.): Repressed music: Berlin composers in exile . Argon, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-87024-118-7 .
  • Werner Hanak-Lettner, Michael Haas (Ed.): Ernst Toch. Life as a geographical joint. For the exhibition of the same name at the Jewish Museum Vienna 2010, including CD. Vienna 2010. ISBN 3-901398-57-0
  • Hermann Jung (Hrsg.): Detection of evidence, the composer Ernst Toch (1887–1964) - the fates of emigrants from Mannheim. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2007 (media combination). ISBN 3-631-57400-2
  • Luitgard Schader:  Toch, Ernst. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 16 (Strata - Villoteau). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2006, ISBN 3-7618-1136-5  ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  • Stefan Schmidl: Toch, Ernst. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 5, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-7001-3067-8 .
  • Heiko Schneider: Truthfulness and progress. Ernst Toch in Germany 1919–1933. Schott, Mainz / Berlin 2007. ISBN 3-7957-0159-7
  • Elisabeth Stratka, Andreas Kloner: I am the most forgotten composer of the 20th century. Portrait of the Austrian composer Ernst Toch. ORF radio feature 2003, 54 min.
  • Lawrence Weschler: The Last Fairy Tale. About the fate of my grandfather, the composer Ernst Toch. In: Lettre International. Issue 72 (spring). Berlin 2006, pp. 22-29. ISSN  0945-5167

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Anja Oechsler:  Toch, Ernst. In: Grove Music Online (English; subscription required).