Wolfgang Steinecke

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Wolfgang Steinecke (left) in conversation with Heinz Dressel (1957)

Wolfgang Steinecke (born April 22, 1910 in Essen , † December 23, 1961 in Darmstadt ) was a German musicologist , music critic and cultural politician .


Friedrich Heinrich Wolfgang Steinecke was born in April 1910 as the son of Käthe Steinecke. Lübbers and Hugo Wolfram Steinecke were born in Essen. The father was a full-time Reichsbahn inspector. As a part-time job he was a music critic for well-known Essen daily newspapers and was a choir director. As a child, Wolfgang Steinecke wrote poems and a play. He attended a high school in his hometown. At the age of 17 he wrote his first musical work. From 1927 he wrote stage music for school theater performances as well as for productions of the Kiel student theater. Steinecke first completed practical music studies at the Folkwang School in Essen with Ludwig Riemann (1863–1927) and Felix Wolfes . He then studied musicology with Ernst Bücken , art history, theater and literature and philosophy at the Cologne University of Music and the University of Cologne and in Kiel. As early as 1928 he had written a seventy-page musical aesthetic that is in his estate. In addition to his studies, he worked as a directing student and assistant to Georg Hartmann (director) at the Städtische Bühnen in Kiel. In 1934 he did his doctorate with Friedrich Blume (musicologist) in Cologne. The title of the dissertation was "The Parody in Music".

Steinecke was open to the Nazi regime and also cultivated relationships with numerous influential musicians and musicologists during the National Socialist era. This included u. a. his doctoral supervisor Friedrich Blume but also Fritz Stein .

Until 1939, Steinecke worked as a music and theater critic for the Rheinisch-Westfälische Zeitung in Essen. He then moved to Darmstadt to work as editor for south-west Germany for the Düsseldorf theater newspaper “Der Mittag”. He also worked as a correspondent for several daily newspapers. When the German theaters closed on September 1, 1944, he became unemployed.

After the end of the Second World War, he applied in Darmstadt for a position in the cultural administration of the city of Darmstadt, which was to be newly founded, under Lord Mayor Ludwig Metzger . In his application he stated that he was politically unencumbered and did not provide any information about his activities during the Nazi era. Even at a later point in time, Steinecke was not subjected to a denazification process. On August 1, 1945, he was given a fixed-term contract as a cultural advisor. On December 1, 1945, the American military government agreed to Steinecke's position. The employment contract was subsequently extended regularly. He received a salary of the rank of government councilor.

During his time as a cultural advisor until 1948, Wolfgang Steinecke rebuilt the cultural administration in the badly damaged city of Darmstadt. This included the opening of the city library, the Academy for Music and the Adult Education Center. He also founded a series of chamber music in the city and organized the first art exhibitions. However, the name Wolfgang Steinecke is particularly associated with the establishment of the International Summer Courses for New Music and the Kranichstein Music Institute. The programs in the first few years were interspersed with musicians from the transition period between National Socialism and the Federal Republic of Germany. These included Hugo Distler , Wolfgang Fortner , Gerhard Frommel , Hermann Reutter etc. From 1950 on, Steinecke devoted himself exclusively to Darmstadt holiday courses . Gradually it was possible to bring many composers of new music to Darmstadt.

Steinecke also worked as a music critic for various newspapers and magazines.

Wolfgang Steinecke was born with the photographer Hella Steinecke. Dahm (1921–1982) married. The marriage remained childless. Wolfgang Steinecke died of the consequences of a car accident in December 1961 at the age of 51.


  • 1953: Awarded the Arnold Schönberg Medal
  • 1975: In Darmstadt-Kranichstein the Steineckeweg was named after him.


  • 1934: The Parody in Music, Wolfenbüttel


  • Article Wolfgang Steinecke, in: Stadtlexikon Darmstadt, Stuttgart 2006, p. 889.
  • Michael Custodis on behalf of the International Music Institute Darmstadt (IMD): Traditions Coalitions Visions. Wolfgang Steinecke and the international summer courses in Darmstadt, Saarbrücken 2010.

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