Alexander von Zemlinsky

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Born: 14 October 1871 — Wien — Austria
Died: 15 March 1942 — Larchmont, NY — USA
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Although Zemlinsky began in a late-Romantic vein, developing to a rich, post-Mahlerian expanded tonality, in the later 1920s and 1930s he adopted aspects of the dissonant neoclassical ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ style. Despite his closeness to the Schoenberg circle he never adopted the 12-note method; indeed he and Schoenberg disagreed profoundly about it, though each continued to admire the other as a great artist.

Zemlinsky was above all a man of the theatre, and his most important music is to be found in his operas. He also wrote some significant orchestral works, some fine chamber music and many excellent songs.


  • Sarema (1893-5, produced Munich 1897)
  • Es war einmal (1897-9, produced Vienna 1900: it is sometimes said an orchestral interlude in this work was composed by Mahler, who conducted the premiere, but it was written by Z. at Mahler’s request)
  • Der Traumgörge (1904-6, scheduled to be premiered in Vienna by Mahler; after Mahler’s resignation Felix Weingartner reneged on the commitment; finally premiered in truncated form, Nuremberg, 1980)
  • "Kleider machen Leute" (First version: 1907-1909, produced at the Vienna "Volksoper" 1910; second version: 1921-22, produced Prague 1922)
  • Eine Florentinische Tragödie (1915-16, produced Stuttgart 1917)
  • Der Zwerg (1919-1921, produced Cologne 1922)
  • Der Kreidekreis (1930-32, produced Zurich 1933)
  • Der König Kandaules (1935-6, orchestration left incomplete, completed by Antony Beaumont 1992-5)

Main orchestral works

  • Symphony in D minor (1892: usually called No.1 but actually No.2 - an earlier Symphony in E minor survives incomplete)
  • Symphony in B flat (1897: usually called No.2 but actually No.3)
  • Die Seejungfrau, symphonic poem after Hans Christian Andersen (1902-3)
  • Lyrische Symphonie on poems of Tagore (1922-3: actually Symphony No.4)
  • Sinfonietta (1934)

Main chamber works

  • Clarinet Trio (1896)
  • String Quartet No.1 in A (1896)
  • String Quartet No.2 (1913-15)
  • String Quartet No.3 (1924)
  • String Quartet No.4 (Suite) (1936)

Principal choral and vocal works

  • Fr&uunl;hlingsbegräbnis, cantata (composed 1896 in memory of Brahms, orchestrated 1897, revised an re-orchestrated 1903)
  • Psalm 83 for chorus and orchestra (1900)
  • Psalm 23 for chorus and orchestra (1910)
  • 6 Maeterlinck Gesange for voice and orchestra (1910-13)
  • Symphonische Gesange for voice and orchestra on Black American lyrics (1929)
  • Psalm 13 for chorus and orchestra (1935)

(Contribution by Malcolm MacDonald <macval(at)>)

Songs by Zemlinsky (Hermine Haselböck, mezzosoprano; Florian Henschel, piano) have been released at Pan Classics. MP3 samples and the comnplete list of the Lieder you can listen on the website http"//


Alexander von Zemlinsky - (Tsem-linss-kee) - an Austrian born composer. His father, born in Vienna of Slovakian Catholic descent, converted to Judaism in 1870; his mother, born in Sarajevo, was the daughter of a mixed Sephardi-Muslim marriage. Born in Vienna and studied music at the Vienna Conservatory. At the turn of the century, he secured a conducting post at the Carltheater in Vienna. He was also a very successful conductor of the Vienna Volksoper, the Vienna Opera, the Berlin Kroll Opera and the Prague German Opera. He was admired and encouraged by Brahms, particularly with his chamber works and also to some extent by Mahler. Zemlinsky taught composition at the Prague College of Music. His style reflects late romanticism, this is evident in his several symphonies. Amongst Zemlinsky’s students, was Alma Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, who later married Zemlinsky’s sister. His works include operas, chamber music, songs, choruses, symphonies and piano pieces. The composition "Ein Tanzpoem", a work for orchestra, is typical of his late romantic style.

Zemlinsky emigrated to the United States in 1938 and died in Larchmont New York in March of 1942.

(contribution by Mike Shakinovsky <usonic(at)>)

Apart from Alma Mahler, his most famous pupil was Erich Wolfgang Korngold. In the early 1920s in Prague he was very helpful to Viktor Ullmann and Hanns Eisler. He was the dedicatee of Alban Berg’s ‘Lyric Suite’, which quotes from Zemlinsky’s ‘Lyric Symphony’, probably his most famous work.

(Contribution by Malcolm MacDonald <macval(at)>)

[in Dutch] Zemlinsky studeerde van 1890 tot 1892 aan het conservatorium van Wenen, waar hij later aan de diverse theaters ook dirigeerde. In 1911 werd hij directeur van het Deutsches Landestheater in Praag en in 1920 compositieleraar aan de Deutsche Musikakademie aldaar. Van 1927 tot 1930 dirigeerde hij aan de Berlijnse Kroll-Oper en van 1930 tot 1933 was hij gastdirigent bij de Berlijnse Staatsopera. In 1938 emigreerde hij naar de Verenigde Staten, waar hij in 1942 overleed. Zemlinsky had als dirigent grote bewondering voor Brahms en Mahler en schreef zelf overwegend laat-romantische muziek. Zijn oeuvre omvat een aantal opera’s, orkest- en koorwerken, kamermuziek en liederen. Onder zijn leerlingen o.a. Alma Mahler en Arnold Schönberg, die later met Zemlinsky’s zuster Mathilde huwde (1901). (contribution by Robbert Muuse <robbertmuuse(at)>)


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22 January 1900: Premiere of Zemlinsky's Es War Einmahl, in Vienna, Austria, with Mahler conducting.
30 January 1917: Premiere of Eine Florentinische Tragödie, in Stuttgart, Germany.
4 June 1924: Premiere of Lyrische Symphonie, in Prague, Czech Republic.
6 June 1924: Premiere of Schönberg's Erwartung, in Prague, Czech Republic, with Zemlinsky conducting.
14 October 1933: Premiere of Der Kreidekreis, in Zürich, Switzerland.

Contributions by: macval | muuse | usonic |

© 1995–2014 Jos Smeets — Quixote; Last update: 2009-03-06 15:30:00.
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Dying days:
(1845) Gustav Albert Lortzing: Premiere of Undine, in Magdeburg, Germany.
(1889) Giacomo Puccini: Premiere of Edgar, in Milan, Italy.
(1918) Sergey Prokofiev: Premiere of the Classical Symphony in D major op. 25, in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Prokofiev conducting.
(1945) Olivier Messiaen: Premiere of Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine, in Paris, France.
(1948) Ralph Vaughan Williams: Premiere of Symphony no. 6 in e minor, in London, England.

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Classical Sheet Music and MP3 accompaniment: download instantly at Virtual Sheet Music®
Picture of Alexander von Zemlinsky.
(sent by Robbert Muuse)

Sheet music for von Zemlinsky

[details ←] Alexander Zemlinsky - Two Movements for String Quartet, viola, violin, cello, string quartet,
[details ←] Lyric Symphony, Op. 18, Study
[details ←] Humoreske, Wind Quintet, Parts, woodwind quintet,
[details ←] Trio in Dm Op3 String Chamber
[details ←] 13 Lieder Op. 2, vocal,
[details ←] Humoreske, Wind Quintet, Study, woodwind quintet,
[details ←] Landliche Tanze op. 1, piano,
[details ←] String Quartet 3, Op. 19, viola, violin, cello, string quartet,
[details ←] 8 Gesange, Op. 5, vocal,
[details ←] Sinfonietta for Orch Op 23(193
[details ←] Symphonische Gesaenge, Op. 20
[details ←] Eine Florentinische Tragoedie
[details ←] Magic Flute, Vol. 1, Piano 4 H, piano,
[details ←] Magic Flute, Vol. 2, Piano 4 H, piano,
[details ←] Songs, 6, Op. 13, Score
[details ←] String Quartet 4, Op. 25, viola, violin, cello, string quartet,
[details ←] Florentinische Tragodie, Libretto
[details ←] Zwei Gedichte (Fruhlingsglaube; Geheimnis), piano, vocal,
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Zemlinsky: Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid: Fantasy after Hans Christian Andersen) / Sinfonietta, Op. 23
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Collectors Edition: Complete String Quartets
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Zemlinsky: Complete String Quartets
Classical Music : Zemlinsky: Complete String Quartets
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Zemlinsky: Symphonies Nos.1 & 2
Classical Music : Zemlinsky: Symphonies Nos.1 & 2
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