Josef Matthias Hauer

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Josef Matthias Hauer (born March 19, 1883 in Wiener Neustadt as Josef Hauer ; † September 22, 1959 in Vienna ) was an Austrian composer and music theorist.

Memorial plaque on the birthplace
Birthplace in Wiener Neustadt


Josef Hauer was born in Wiener Neustadt, Lange Gasse 23, as the son of the prison warden Matthias Hauer. From 1897 he attended the Wiener Neustadt teacher training college . There he received piano, organ, cello and singing lessons, and he was self-taught in music theory. After graduating from high school, he became a primary school teacher in Krumbach in 1902 and in Wiener Neustadt in 1904. He also worked as an organist, choir director and cellist in a string quartet, and he qualified for music lessons at high schools. In 1907 he married Leopoldine Hönig († 1934). The marriage had three children: Martha, Bruno and Elisabeth. In 1914, Hauer was drafted into the military. In 1915 he moved to Vienna. In 1918 he was discharged from the army; In 1919 he retired from school due to illness. From 1922 he called himself Josef Matthias Hauer in honor of his father .

In 1912 he began to develop his own form of twelve-tone music from his principle of “building block technology” . His “Nomos” op. 19 (August 1919) is considered the first twelve-tone composition ever. At the end of 1921, Hauer discovered the 44 tropes (“constellation groups”, “twists”) and in 1926 the twelve-tone “continuum”. Compared to Arnold Schönberg's method of “composition with twelve only related notes”, however, Hauer's theories received little attention. Even in the practical music business he remained an outsider; only a few of his larger works were performed during his lifetime. He was also considered a difficult person and had tendencies towards anti-Semitism : “I really hope that not all Jews ( Mendelssohn , Heine ...) were like that [like Arnold Schönberg], otherwise you would have to laugh at yourself or ... despise yourself. This Sch. is a rarity from a swindler. [...] I expect one of your 'brain-cleaning' answers from you this time. As a musician I am an anti-Semite, as a person to people maybe not ”. The critic Hermann Bahr began to regularly refer to Hauer in his Diary column in the New Vienna Journal in 1918 . Franz Werfel describes in his novel Verdi (1924) an eccentric named Mathias Fischböck; Contemporaries believed they saw a portrait of Hauer in it. Another Austrian writer, Otto Stoessl (1875–1936), dedicated a key novel, which was meant to be positive, to the composer with the title Sonnenmelodie. A Life Story (1923).

The philosopher Ferdinand Ebner was one of Josef Matthias Hauer's friends . He encouraged him to set numerous texts by Friedrich Hölderlin to music .

Grave at Dornbacher Friedhof

In 1930 the City of Vienna granted Hauer an honorary pension. In 1935 Goebbels banned any performance in Germany, in 1938 the Austrian pension grant was withdrawn from him, and in 1939 the traveling exhibition " Degenerate Music " defamed him . Hauer was thus forced to internal immigration, in which he commented on selected intellectual history articles from his supporters, the Köchert family, in glosses, and again dealt creatively with the I Ching .

In order to support and pass on his teaching, he founded the “ Austrian Seminar for Twelve-Tone Music ” in Vienna from 1953 to 1959, which was considered an intellectual pool and had an international impact. Important for Hauer were Johannes Schwieger (1892–1970) as seminar leader and also Victor Sokolowski and Nikolaus Fheodoroff , to whom he donated his estate with documents and many sources.

Composers related to Hauer are also Carl Nielsen , Paul Hindemith , Rudolf Reti , Johann Ludwig Trepulka , Othmar Steinbauer , Paul von Klenau , Stefan Wolpe .

Several artists dedicated portrait works to the twelve-tone composer : Erwin Lang , Frieda Salvendy, Christian Schad , Ernst Hartmann, Franz Hubmann , Heinz Leinfellner , Karl Prantl , Dominik Száva, Julian Schutting .

Hauer's honorary grave is located in the Dornbacher Friedhof in Vienna (group 12, number 10). In 1988 the Josef-Matthias-Hauer-Platz in Vienna- Josefstadt (8th district) was named after him.

The Josef Matthias Hauer Music School of the City of Wiener Neustadt was named after him in 1977 . From 1988 to 2010 the Josef Matthias Hauer Conservatory in Wiener Neustadt offered concert training as well as training in instrumental and vocal pedagogy (IGP).


Compositional creation

The work of Josef Matthias Hauer is generally divided into three phases:

  • Free atonal phase: 1912 to 1919 (op.1 - op.18)
  • Early twelve-tone phase: 1919 to 1940 (op.19 - op.92)
  • Phase of twelve-tone play : August 1940 to 1959

The first creative phase is atonal, but not consistently twelve-tone. In most cases, the tone material of 9, 10, 11 or 12 tones is used within shorter sections. Through his "Klangfarbenentheorie" ( Über die Klangfarben , 1918), which is based on Goethe's theory of colors , he arrives at the demand for totality in the use of the sound material, which he formulates in his work Vom Wesen des Musikalischen (1920).

In his essay Die Tropen (in: Musikblätter des Anbruch, Universal Edition, vol. 6/1, Vienna 1924, pp. 18-21) he writes:

Very soon I also realized that the “building blocks with all twelve notes of the circle” are actually the formative ones, the most musically productive. The melos opened up to me in its size. Hundreds of Melos cases were solved, interpreted, put together to form larger and larger forms, and by Christmas 1921 I was ready to see all of the Melos cases and to be able to divide them into larger and smaller groups; I discovered the "tropics", which now came to practical use in place of the earlier keys. Right at the beginning of my now conscious work, the rule arose by itself: to move the same notes as far apart as possible so that the greatest tension in the melos, the strongest "movement", is generated. I achieved this by always using six tones of a certain “constellation”, i.e. two groups within the twelve tones, in alternation. For all Melos cases there are 44 possibilities (constellations) of this division - hence forty-four tropics .

The tropical technique is based on the fact that, based on a division of the twelve-tone space into two complementary hexachord groups, the interval relationships and symmetries between the twelve tones that can be easily seen from this are used. For example, tonal relationships, sounds and symmetries can be extracted from a “trope” that can be used for the composition. A pre-compositional construction act is essential in tropical technology: starting from any desired properties (row structure, tonal, melodic, formal ...), tone structures can be constructed from the tropics in general, which fulfill the corresponding properties. These structures then form the material from which the act of composition takes place - similar to how a baroque fugue is "composed" out of the harmonic band of figured bass harmonies constructed in advance.

The third creative phase of Hauer is largely based on his philosophical and ideological ideas, which merge more and more with his artistic work in the course of his life, which however also drove him more and more into isolation with increasing age. Greek and Chinese philosophy (especially: Taoism ) play a decisive role in Hauer's musical thinking . From this, in connection with harmonical and music-theoretical considerations, a worldview is formed around whose center - music - all sciences, philosophies and religions are arranged. The image of this philosophical idea of ​​absolute music forms the " twelve-tone game ", a " glass bead game of twelve tempered tones", which Hauer understands as an ideal image of the world order.

Hauer's position in music history

Compared to the music-historical significance of the "composition with twelve only related notes" , as it was formulated by Arnold Schönberg around 1921, the developments of Hauer take a backseat. Hermann Heiss and Othmar Steinbauer should be mentioned as the most important students of Hauer, who have carried on the developments of their teacher and expanded them in their interest . After Hauer's death, the ideas of twelve-tone playing were preserved by Victor Sokolowski . a. maintained at the Vienna Music Academy.

Outside of Austria, Hauer's thought and work had little effect. In the post-war period, John Cage made positive comments about Hauer. He appreciated the meditative character of the "twelve-tone plays" and was interested in the fact that Hauer had already worked with random operations when composing, as they later became important for aleatoric . Furthermore, in the English-language music theory literature in connection with “hexachordal sets” and combinatoriality, reference is often made to Hauer's theory of the tropics.

Hauer and Schönberg

Hauer claimed a historical privilege over Arnold Schönberg, who formulated his own twelve-tone theory around 1921. The personal relationship between the two artists was ambivalent. Hauer had long sought contact with Schönberg; after a personal encounter in 1917, he expressed himself very derogatory and anti-Semitic in private: “In everything else he is a silly, joking, banal 'Jew boy' despite his 43 years. I am not a saint, but intercourse with such an individual pollutes me. "

Nevertheless, there was another exchange of ideas in the early 1920s. In 1922, Hauer dedicated his Nine Etudes (op.22) for piano to Schönberg, and in a letter dated December 1, 1923, Schönberg made various suggestions for practical collaboration:

“Let's write a book together in which there is always one chapter from one, the next from the other. Let us present our ideas with precise delimitation of the distinctive, with the help of factual (but polite) polemics, and let us try to work together a bit despite these differences: on the basis of what we have in common, we can certainly find a basis on which we can communicate smoothly with one another can. […]
Perhaps now your proposal for a school is even better. Above all, because an exchange of ideas could take place more informally, more often, and without the inciting and stubborn participation of a maliciously watching public. But even the book could not be dismissed out of hand for the purpose of establishing the current position. "

These plans did not materialize. Hauer founded his own group of private students, which remained separate from that of the Schönberg students. From 1937 he put a stamp next to his signature in letters with the words: "The intellectual originator and (despite many imitators!) Still the only connoisseur and expert of twelve-tone music".

In retrospect, this dispute seems incomprehensible, since both types of composition are too different to be reduced to a single, clearly definable “invention”. Schönberg's twelve-tone technique is a means to an end: it serves his expressive-dramatic tonal language. In contrast, Hauer's method appears like an esoteric-contemplative game that has a meaning in itself. The "twelve-tone plays" accordingly follow a uniform basic pattern: First, the twelve-tone row is exposed - sometimes in a rhythmic form, sometimes "monolithic". Then it is broken down into a four-part sentence and subjected to contrapuntal procedures (e.g. swapping voices). The focus is on the harmonic progressions; melodic and motivic elements are always only fillings, embellishments. The range is relatively limited; melodic and rhythmic figures are hardly or not at all changed. There are no arcs of phrasing, no dynamic developments, no climaxes. This lack of individual character was u. a. sharply criticized by Herbert Eimert and Theodor W. Adorno . Adorno described Hauer's compositions as the products of a "watchmaker".

Works (selection)


(The Lafite directory lists 576 individual titles)

Stage works

Vocal compositions

  • Song of the Last (op. 4; 1913) for voice and piano
  • Five songs (op. 6; 1914) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
1.  Good Faith - 2.  Hyperion's Song of Destiny - 3.  Sunset - 4.  Vanini - 5.  CV
  • Choral songs from the tragedies of Sophocles (op. 7; 1914) for male choir and piano (or organ). Texts: Sophocles
  • Prometheus (op.11; 1914) for baritone and piano. Text: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Version for baritone and orchestra
  • Three songs (op. 12; 1914/15) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
1.  Ehmals and now - the second  apology - 3.  The home
  • Anxious hour (op. 14; 1918) for voice and piano. Text: Karl Kraus
  • Prometheus Fettered (op. 18; 1919) for baritone and piano. Text: Aeschylus
  • Eight songs (op. 21; 1922) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Four songs (op. 23; 1923/24) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
1.  Evening fantasy - 2.  The fettered river - 3. In the  morning - 4.  To the Parzen
  • Lied der Liebe (op. 24; 1923) for 3-part female choir, piano and harmonium. Text: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Seven songs (op. 32; 1924) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
1.  Enjoyment of life - 2.  To a rose - 3.  The god of youth - 4.  To their genius - 5.  In the evening - 6.  Empedocles - 7.  Song of the German
  • Suite No. 3 (op.36; 1925) for baritone and orchestra. Text: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Five songs (op. 40; 1925) for medium voice and piano. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
1.  Vulkan - 2.  Your recovery - 3.  Tears - 4.  Diotima - 5.  To rest
  • Latin Mass (op. 44; 1926) for mixed choir, organ and chamber orchestra
  • Latin Mass (op. 46; 1926; fragment)
  • Changes (op. 53; 1927 / revised version: op. I). Chamber oratorio for 6 solo voices, 4-part mixed choir and orchestra. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin. Premiere 1928 Baden-Baden (Chamber Music Festival; Conductor: Hermann Scherchen )
  • Of life. A poetic reading with music (op. 57; 1928) for speakers, small 4-part mixed choir and chamber orchestra. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Emilie before her bridal day (op. 58; 1928). Cantata for alto and orchestra. Text: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Dance Fantasies No. 1 & 2 ( op.65 ; 1932/33) for soprano, alto, tenor, bass and orchestra
  • The Path of People (op. 67; 1934 / revised version: op. II; 1952). Cantata for 4 solos, 4-part mixed choir and orchestra. Texts: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Empedocles (op. 68; 1935) for solos, male choir and orchestra. Text: after Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Recitative (op. 76,1; 1938) for baritone and piano. Text: Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Spring (op.76,2; 1938) for mixed choir, violins and violoncellos. Text: after Friedrich Hölderlin
  • My Beloved Tale Smile At Me (1949) for medium voice and piano. Text: after Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Hölderlin recitations (1949) for female voice and piano

Orchestral works

  • First symphony (op. 1; 1912). Premiere 1913 St. Pölten. - Later reworked into the 7-part cycle Nomos (see under: piano music )
  • Apocalyptic Fantasy (op.5)
  • Suite No. 1 (op.31; 1924)
  • Suite No. 2 (op.33; 1924)
  • Romantic Fantasy (op. 37; 1925)
  • Suite No. 4 (op.43; 1926)
  • Suite No. 5 (op.45; 1926)
  • Suite No. 6 (op. 47; 1926; - - piano - timpani, percussion [4] - strings:
  • Arrangement: String Quartet No. 6 (op.47; 1926)
  • Suite No. 7 (op. 48; 1926; - [wind instruments to be doubled if possible] - piano - timpani, percussion [4] - strings: Premiere 1927 Frankfurt am Main ( IGNM festival ; conductor: Hermann Scherchen )
  • Fantasies for piano, organ and string orchestra / Symphonic pieces for piano, harmonium and string quartet (op. 49; 1926)
  • Sinfonietta (op.50; 1927). Symphonic pieces for large orchestra ( - - piano - timpani; percussion [4] - strings:
  • Suite No. 8 (op.52; 1927)
  • Violin concerto (op. 54; 1928) in one movement (orchestra: - - timpani; percussion [2] - strings: Premiere 1928 (conductor: Hermann Scherchen )
  • Piano concerto (op. 55; 1928) in one movement (orchestra: - - timpani; percussion [2] - strings)
  • Divertimento (op.61; 1930) for chamber orchestra
  • Concert piece (op.63; 1932)
  • Diabolo Waltz (op.64; 1932) for chamber orchestra
  • Tanzfantasien No. 3-7 ( op.66 ; 1933) for chamber orchestra
  • Dance Suite No. 2 (op.71; 1936)
  • Twelve-tone music for orchestra (opp. 74; 75; 76.4; 77–85; 88; 89.1 & 2; 1937–1939)
  • Twelve-tone music for orchestra with a twelve-tone row in six different tropes (1945)
  • Slow Waltz (op.V; 1953)

Piano works

  • Nomos (op. 1; 1912) in 7 parts, for piano for 2 hands and piano for 4 hands (or harmonium)
  • Nomos (op. 2; 1913) in 5 parts, for piano for 2 hands and piano for 4 hands (or harmonium)
  • Seven small pieces (op. 3; 1913) for piano (or harmonium) ( dedicated to Rudolf Wondracek [1886–1942])
  • Morgenländisches Märchen (Op. 9; 1915) for piano for 2 hands and piano for 4 hands (or harmonium)
  • Dance (op.10; 1915) for piano
  • Five small pieces (op.15; 1919) for piano (or harmonium) (dedicated to Wilhelm Fischer)
  • Resonance studies (op. 16; 1919) for piano (dedicated to Anna Höllering [1895–1987])
  • Fantasy (op.17; 1919) for piano (or harmonium) (dedicated to Hildegard Itten)
  • Nomos (op.19; 1919) for piano (or harmonium) (dedicated to Agathe Kornfeld)
  • Atonal music (op. 20; 1920–1922) for piano
  • Prelude (I) (1921) for Celesta
  • Melodies (1921) for piano (or celesta, or harmonium) (dedicated to Emil Klein)
  • Melodies (I) (1921) for well-tempered instruments ( dedicated to Franz Höllering )
  • Melodies (II) (op. 34; 1921) for well-tempered instruments (dedicated to Eugenia Schwarzwald)
  • Baroque studies (1921) for piano (dedicated to Albert Linschütz)
  • Prelude (II) (1921) for Celesta (dedicated to Otto Stoessl)
  • Nine Etudes (op. 22; 1922) for piano ( dedicated to Arnold Schönberg )
  • 60 small pieces (op.25; 1923) for piano
  • Inside: 16 piano pieces with headings based on words by Friedrich Hölderlin (dedicated to Erich Köchert)
  • Fantasy (op. 39; 1925) for piano
  • Music film (op. 51; 1927). 21 pieces for piano
  • Twelve-tone Christmas 1946
  • Labyrinthischer Tanz (op. III; 1952) for piano 4 hands
  • Twelve-tone play for piano four hands (1956)
  • Hausmusik (1958) for piano for 4 hands

Chamber music (1-9 players)

  • Four pieces for violin and piano (op.28; 1924)
  • Five pieces for violin and piano (op. 41; 1925)
  • Chamber music (op. 49; 1926)
  • Sketches for violin and piano (~ 1926)
  • Seven pieces for violin solo (op. 56; 1928)
1.  Harlequin - 2.  Mosquito dance - 3.  Finely woven - 4.  Dance of the feathered - 5.  Hard argument - 6.  Spanish riding school - 7.  Waltz
  • Dance Suite No. 1 (op.70; 1936)
  • Dance suite No. 2 (op.71; 1936) for 9 solo instruments ( - - piano - strings:
  • Twelve-tone music for nine solo instruments (op.73; 1937)
  • Twelve-tone play for five violins ( dedicated to Hermann Hee ) (1949)
  • Twelve-tone plays for violin and piano
  • Chinese string quartet (op. IV; 1953)


(17 theoretical papers [1918-1926], 33 journal articles, essays and unpublished manuscripts [1919-1948])

  • About the timbre (op. 13). 1918
  • On the essence of the musical . Waldheim-Eberle, Leipzig / Vienna 1920
  • Interpretation of the melos . 1923
  • Atonal melody theory . Manuscript, 1923
  • From melos to kettledrum . Universal Edition, Vienna 1925 ( dedicated to Arnold Schönberg )
  • Twelve-tone technique. The doctrine of the tropics . Universal Edition, Vienna 1926
  • The tropics . In: Musikblätter des Anbruch . Universal Edition, Vienna 6.1924,1, pp. 18-21
  • Sowing and harvesting . In: Musikblätter des Anbruch . Universal Edition, Vienna 8.1926,1, pp. 13-17
  • The Golden cut. A justification for twelve-tone music . Manuscript, 1926
  • Cosmic Testament . 3 manuscripts: 1937, 1941, 1945

Student of Josef Matthias Hauer and participant of the seminar

See also



  • Othmar Steinbauer : Josef Matthias Hauer's twelve-tone playing. Austrian music magazine, volume 18, issue 3, Vienna 1963
  • Monika Lichtenfeld: Investigations into the twelve-tone technique with Josef Matthias Hauer. Gustav Bosse, Regensburg 1964
  • Walter Szmolyan: Josef Matthias Hauer. Austrian composers of the XX. Century. Vol. 6. Lafite Verlag, Vienna 1965
  • Kurt Blaukopf: Hauer's spiritual physiognomy , Austrian music magazine, 21st year, special issue 3, Vienna 1966.
  • Rudolf Stephan:  Hauer, Josef Matthias. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 8, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1969, ISBN 3-428-00189-3 , p. 82 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Johann Sengstschmid: Between trope and twelve-tone play. JM Hauer's twelve-tone technique in selected examples. Gustav Bosse, Regensburg 1980
  • Hans Ulrich Götte: The composition techniques of JM Hauer with special consideration of deterministic procedures. Kassel writings on music. Vol. 2. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1989
  • Helmut Neumann (Hrsg.): The sound series composition theory after Othmar Steinbauer. 2 vols. Peter Lang, Frankfurt-Vienna 2001
  • Nikolaus Fheodoroff u. a .: Josef Matthias Hauer: Writings, manifestos, documents . DVD-ROM. Lafite, Vienna 2007. ISBN 978-3-85151-076-8
  • Hans Florey: The regularities for Josef Matthias Hauer's "Zwölftonspiele" , Austrian music magazine, 65th year, issue 3, Vienna 2010, pp. 83–95.
  • Dominik Sedivy: Serial Composition and Tonality. An Introduction to the Music of Hauer and Steinbauer , (Eds.): Günther Friesinger, Helmut Neumann, Dominik Sedivy, edition mono, Vienna 2011
  • Dominik Sedivy: Tropical technology. Their application and their possibilities , Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2012
  • Barbara Boisits: Hauer, family. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 2, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-7001-3044-9 .

Web links

Commons : Josef Matthias Hauer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Letter of August 31, 1917 to Ferdinand Ebner
  2. See the book editions of the diaries , in which Hauer is discussed in detail every year from 1918 to 1923.
  3. ^ Wiener Neustadt - Josef Matthias Hauer Music School . Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  4. Structural change at the public law conservatories in Austria as a result of the Bologna Process - three examples: Josef Matthias Hauer Conservatory and Music School of the City of Wiener Neustadt, Joseph Haydn Conservatory of the Province of Burgenland, Conservatory Vienna Private University . Diploma thesis 2008, accessed on May 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Letter of August 31, 1917 to Ferdinand Ebner
  6. ^ [1] , Schoenberg's letters to Hauer, quoted from: aeiou / Austria Forum
  7. See the commentary by Steffen Schleiermacher in the booklet to his CD Hauer - Zwölftonspiele , MDG 6131060, p. 24
  8. ^ Josef Matthias Hauer . Retrieved February 19, 2019.