Joseph Marx

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Joseph Marx (1903)

Joseph Rupert Rudolf Marx (born May 11, 1882 in Graz ; † September 3, 1964 there ) was an Austrian composer , pianist , music teacher and critic .


Joseph (correct Josef) Marx was born on May 11, 1882 as the son of the doctor Josef Marx and Irene, nee. Strohhuber (later renamed Stiglitz) was born in Graz, Rechbauerstraße 15. He already learned music from his mother. He later took lessons at the piano school of Johann Buwa (1828–1907), where he developed into a virtuoso pianist. At the same time he taught himself to play the cello and violin . During his high school years he started composing by from existing topics piano pieces and smaller pieces for trio and quartet arranged and these aufführte with friends in pubs.

At the request of his father, he studied law at the University of Graz , but soon switched to philosophy and art history . This eventually led to a break with his family, but Marx continued to have a keen interest in music, so that at the age of 26 he resumed his composing activities and within four years, from 1908 to 1912, wrote about 120 of his 150 or so songs . Marx, who was considered an excellent pianist, often accompanied his songs himself.

After receiving the Dr. phil. had acquired and published works on music theory, Marx accepted the position of professor of music theory at the Vienna Music Academy in 1914 . Before that, he had presented two extensive dissertations on sound psychology and the nature of tonality, based on the pioneering work of the musicologist Hugo Riemann , in Graz as part of his own musicological research work that had been going on for years (based on 8000 individual experiments with test persons with different musical training) .

In 1922 he became director of the academy and from 1924 to 1927 he held the post of rector of the first university for music founded on his initiative. In 1932, Marx was of Atatürk commissioned the first consultant in the construction of the Conservatory in Ankara to act and Turkish music school system. He carried out this activity until the end of 1933 (his successors were Hindemith, Bartók and others). Marx was friends with several important composers, including a. with Giacomo Puccini , Maurice Ravel , Richard Strauss , Zoltán Kodály , Ottorino Respighi , Franz Schreker , Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Karol Szymanowski .

Marx, who also worked as the head of the cultural department, music critic and essayist for music journals and newspapers in Vienna, taught around 1,300 students of various origins in his 43 years as a composition teacher.

The extensive collection of letters in the Austrian National Library - Marx had received around 15,000 letters from around 3,400 people in the field of music, including the Austrian composer Leopold Stolz - shows Joseph Marx's decades of struggle for the importance of tonal music.

Until his death in 1964, Joseph Marx was president and honorary chairman of many important institutions and associations of Austrian music, such as the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers , the State Councilor for Culture, the Mozart Community and the Austrian Composers' Association . After the Second World War, Marx, who was also internationally respected, had rendered outstanding services to the rebuilding of Central European and especially Austrian musical life and, as a representative of Austria in UNESCO committees, ensured the restoration of Austria's international relations that had been destroyed by the Nazi era . He was buried in an honorary grave at the Vienna Central Cemetery .

Robert Leukauf and Walter Achleitner were among his students .

Controversies after his death

During the last decade and a half of his life, Marx was regarded as the authority on Viennese musical life. During the Second World War, Marx - now relieved of all of his previous offices - stayed in Vienna and, with the position he still had as a well-known composer and speaker, campaigned for the “rescue of the declining musical culture” Nazi state held. This and the fact that he had neither emigrated nor protested and had held a position of power in Viennese musical life in the 1950s made him a controversial figure in the debates of the post-war period.

The fact that Marx was appointed a third honorary member on May 9, 1942 by the Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft , which was brought into line, as well as confusion with the composer Karl Marx , who according to research by Fred K. Prieberg had composed songs for the Hitler Youth, brought Joseph Marx in the decades after his Death one more allegations. Attempts to assume that Joseph Marx, who was close friends with numerous Jewish artists such as Herbert Zipper , Erich Zeisl , Marcel Rubin and Erich Wolfgang Korngold , had an anti-Semitic stance until the end of his life , became irrelevant when he opened up his correspondence with his many Jewish friends and students.

After his death, he was listed in music history books as an influential, ultra-conservative music teacher and a successful composer in the field of songwriting.

The Joseph Marx Society , founded in Vienna in 2006, wants to remember the musical versatility of Joseph Marx and bring his forgotten and undiscovered works to the concert halls.

Compositional style

In his works, Marx oriented himself towards Max Reger , Claude Debussy and Alexander Scriabin . Similar to Scriabin, because of his strong affinity for mystical ideas, he looked for the highest in art as an expression of the transcendent aspect of existence. In doing so, he drove the late Romantic-Impressionist sonority to a climax , especially in the monumental, sometimes orgiastic Autumn Symphony from 1921. As orchestral music marked by exuberance and unbridled passion, it undoubtedly forms his musical legacy.

Further highlights of Marx's work can be found in the works Herbstchor an Pan and Ein Neujahrshymnus , both of which were composed in a phase of choral music and chamber music (1910–1914) following the lieder years, the autumn choir being his first work with orchestra. With Transfigured Year of 1932 he combined singing for the last time with extravagant symphonies. His orchestral and choral works, initially overshadowed by the successful songs, testify to a strong sense of polyphony and unconventional harmony . His tonal language, which was quite idiosyncratic in spite of the strong melody and fully exhausted the tonality, earned Marx the reputation of an innovator among the “traditionalists”. The difficulties that arise for soloists, conductors and orchestral musicians often result in a lack of transparency and differentiation of the polyphonic complex sound structures, which sometimes reach extremes, such as those found in the autumn symphony in a very pronounced form.


Catalog raisonné

Choral works (partly arrangement):

  • A New Year's Hymn for Mixed Choir (or Male Choir) and Orchestra (1914)
  • Mountain Anthem for mixed choir and orchestra ( ca.1910 )
  • Herbstchor an Pan for mixed choir, boys' voices, organ and orchestra (1911)
  • Morning song for male choir and orchestra (1910)
  • Abendweise for male choir, wind orchestra, timpani and organ (1912)
  • Song of Life for male choir and organ (1914)

Songs / orchestral songs

  • a total of approx. 150 songs for voice and piano, of which approx. two dozen with voice and orchestra / string orchestra
  • Transfigured year for medium voice and orchestra (song cycle, 1932; also for voice and piano)

Orchestral works:

  • An Autumn Symphony (1921)
  • Nature trilogy , consisting of:
    • A symphonic night music (1922)
    • Idylle - Concertino on the Pastoral Quart (1925)
    • A Spring Music (1925)
  • Nordland Rhapsody (1929)
  • A festive fanfare music for brass orchestra, timpani, etc. kl. Drum (1928)
  • Old Viennese Serenades (1941)
  • Sinfonia in modo classico for string orchestra (1944)
  • Partita in modo antico for string orchestra (1945)
  • Festivals in Autumn (1946)

Concerts for solo instrument:

  • Piano concerto in E major: “Romantic Piano Concerto” (1919–1920), rediscovered by Jorge Bolet and often played
  • Piano concerto in E flat major: "Castelli Romani" (1929–1930)


  • Piano quartet in the form of a rhapsody (1911)
  • Scherzo for piano quartet (1911)
  • Ballad for piano quartet (1911)
  • Six pieces for piano (1916)
  • String quartet in A major (1936, later version as Quartetto Chromatico 1948)
  • Quartetto in Modo Antico (1938)
  • Quartetto in Modo Classico (1941)
  • Two violin sonatas
  • Works for cello and piano
  • A piano trio
  • Three piano quartets
  • Organ pieces
  • Further (previously unpublished) piano pieces
  • Numerous pieces for voice and chamber ensemble



  • Trio imagination; “Ballade” for piano quartet. MDG , 2013.


  • Harmony. Based on the course of Joseph Marx written by Friedrich Bayer . Universal Edition, Vienna 1933.
  • Counterpoint theory. Based on the course of Joseph Marx written by Friedrich Bayer . Universal Edition, Vienna 1935.
  • Considerations of a Romantic Realist. Collected essays, lectures and speeches on music . Edited by Oswald Ortner. Gerlach & Wiedling, Vienna 1947.
  • World language music. Meaning and interpretation of thousand-year music art . Austria Edition, Vienna 1964.


  • Josef-Horst Lederer:  Marx, Joseph. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-428-00197-4 , p. 326 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Andreas Liess : Joseph Marx. Life and work . Styrian publishing house, Graz 1943.
  • Erik Werba: Joseph Marx . (Austrian composers of the 20th century, Volume I). ÖBV, Vienna 1964.
  • Berkant Haydin: Joseph Marx. Return of a “romantic realist” , in: Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, No. 3/2006, pp. 30–41.
  • Daniela Candillari: Joseph Marx, romantic aesthetics. Dissertation University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Parish Graz-St. Leonhard, Baptism Book XVIII 1877-1884, page 310.
  2. National Library Vienna, data source: Old autograph catalog: Nachlass Joseph Marx
  3. ^ Grave site of Josef Rupert Rudolf Marx , Vienna, Zentralfriedhof, Group 32, Group Extension C, No. 29.
  4. Flotzinger et al. Gruber (Ed.): Music History Austria Volume 2. Verlag Styria, 1979. P. 498
  5. Flotzinger et al. Gruber pp. 505-506
  6. ^ Inscription Deutschordenshof, Singerstraße: Joseph Marx 1952 (accessed June 11, 2014)
  7. Flotzinger et al. Gruber p. 522
  8. Marx memorial plaque in the 3rd district
  9. see also Discography
  10. audio sample