Wilhelm painter

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Wilhelm Maler (born June 21, 1902 in Heidelberg , † April 29, 1976 in Hamburg ) was a German composer , music theorist and university professor .


Maler studied composition with Hermann Grabner in Heidelberg and Joseph Haas in Munich , then with Philipp Jarnach in Berlin . In 1925 he was appointed as a theory teacher at the Musikhochschule in Cologne , where he led a composition class from 1928. From 1931 to 1944 he also taught as a lecturer in music theory at the University of Bonn .

In the late 1920s, painter was seen as a rising talent among young Rhenish composers and, supported by his teaching, gained a reputation as a theorist. His commitment to music education made him a supporter of Fritz Jöde .

During the time of National Socialism he composed various pieces of music that conformed to the system, such as the two-part song once more in 1933 or music for Josefa Berens-Totenohl's trilogy Freyas Erdenfahrt - Balder bless die Erde - Loki's atonement . After being appointed professor, he applied for membership in the NSDAP on July 12, 1937 and became a member of the NSDAP retrospectively as of May 1, 1937 ( party number 4,614,048). Nevertheless, he was accidentally denounced in the Nazi exhibition Degenerate Music in 1938 . From 1944 to 1945, Maler was drafted into the Wehrmacht and did military service.

Although he was polio-paralyzed, at the end of 1944, Maler was called up for home service in the Wehrmacht. After his release, he taught at the then still municipal school for music and theater in Hamburg from 1945-46 before he took over the management of the Northwest German Music Academy Detmold (today Detmold University of Music ), which he co-founded . As a composer he remained silent from then on and found his task in a broad engagement in music-political committees in the 1950s and 60s ( German Music Council, among others). As successor to Philipp Jarnach , he headed the University of Music and Theater in Hamburg from 1959 to 1969 .

From 1967 to 1971 painter was president of the Free Academy of the Arts in Hamburg .

In 1974 he was awarded the Culture Prize of the Lippe Regional Association .

One of his students (see below) was Hajo Hinrichs, who became his successor at the Hamburg University of Music.

Maler's compositional work has neoclassical and folkloric features. He experienced the modern age of the 1920s as a descendant of the Reger school and was initially close to Hindemith . He composed in a contemporary distance to the tradition of the great symphonic in the style of a "New Polyphony " using an expanded tonality. In the 1930s he increasingly turned to forms of vocal music, the outstanding work of which is his oratorio Der Ewige Strom (1935), based on a libretto by Stefan Andres .

Another line of his work started early on in the singing movement. His pieces, written for use in youth and domestic music, pay attention to playability and practical relevance, thus absorbing ideas that were demanded by music educators such as Fritz Reusch or Walther Hensel alongside Jöde . With the turn to the folk song, his production gained a musical paradigm in the course of the 1930s, which he also made fruitful for "New Music" in terms of chamber music. Occasional compositions for radio and official singing practice also fall during this period.

Maler's contribution to the major minor tonal harmony theory (Munich and Leipzig, 1931; often reissued) has become a standard work of harmonic function theory, according to which many music colleges still teach today.


Works (selection)

Abbreviations for publishers: ** Schott, Mainz (S), ** Müller, Heidelberg (M), ** Tonger, Cologne (T), ** Kallmeyer, Wolfenbüttel (K), ** Leuckart, Leipzig (L)


  • Concerto for string orchestra and piano, op.6 (1926)
  • Concerto for harpsichord and chamber orchestra, op.10 (1927) (S)
  • Concerto grosso for 2 woodblocks, piano and string orchestra, op.11 (1928) (S)
  • Orchestra play (1930) (S)
  • Violin Concerto in A (1932) (S)
  • Flemish Rondo (1938) (S)
  • Music for string orchestra (1938) (S)
  • Concerto for piano trio and orchestra (1940) (S)

Vocal works

  • Cantata after verses by Stefan George for baritone, choir and orchestra (1930) (S)
  • Oratorio “Der Ewige Strom” for 3 soloists, choir and orchestra (1932) (S)
  • 4 Hölderlin choirs for a cappella choir (1933) (S)
  • “Light shining golden sun” for choir and orchestra (1936) (T)
  • Cantata “Kume Geselle min”, for soprano and orchestra (1941) (M) (manuscript)
  • Shine, shine golden sun
  • Cumulative journeyman min

Chamber music

  • Five bagatelles for three woodwinds, op.7 (manuscript)
  • String quartet in G (1935) (S)
  • Piano Sonata in C (1937) (M)
  • Strichterzett for 2 violins and viola, or 3 violins (1938) (S)
  • Piano Sonata in E (M) (1939)
  • Rondo in D (1940) (T)
  • Piano Sonata in A (1941) (M)
  • Little Serenade for Piano (1941) (T)
  • String quartet in A (1942) (S)
  • Suite “Der Mayen” for piano (1942) (T)
  • Piano Sonata in Bb (1943) (M)
  • Bassoon quintet for bassoon and string quartet (manuscript)

In addition, Maler composed songs and choral pieces for youth and amateur choirs.


  • Werner Krützfeldt:  painter, Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 15, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-00196-6 , p. 727 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Wilhelm Maler: Contribution to the major minor tonal harmony theory. 13th edition Leuckart, Munich / Leipzig 1984.
  • Karl Laux; “Contemporary music and musicians”, 1949. Verlag Dr. W. Spiel KG, Essen
  • Ludwig Holtmeier: painter, Wilhelm . In: The music in the past and present (MGG). Personal part, Vol. I. Kassel: Bärenreiter 2004, pp. 907–909

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Fred K. Prieberg : Handbook of German Musicians 1933–1945. CD-Rom Lexicon. Kopf, Kiel 2004, pp. 4.422–4.426. ISBN 3-00-037705-0