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Ernst Toch


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Vienna, Austria (1887 – 1964)

( December 7, 1887;Vienna - October 1, 1964 Los Angeles ) Toch was an Austrian composer of classical music and film scores. He sought to introduce new ideas and approaches to music. He studied philosophy at the university of Vienna and medicine at Heidelberg. His main instrument was the piano, and he was a pianist of concert stature. Much of his creative output aimed toward the piano. He was a self-taught composer, and in America he came to instruct new generations of composers. His first compositions date from circa 1900 and were pastiche pieces in the style of Mozart (quartets, 1905 album verses for piano). His first quartet was performed in Leipzig in 1908, and his sixth (Opus 12, 1905) in the year 1909. In 1909, his chamber symphony in F major (written 1906) won the Frankfurt/Main Mozart prize. From this time onwards Toch dedicated himself to being a full-time composer. He won the Mendelssohn prize for composition in 1910. In 1913 he was appointed lecturer of both piano and composition at the College of Music in Mannheim. After winning a further five major prizes for his works, Toch served 4 years in the army on the Italian Front. In 1916 he married Lilly Zwack, the daughter of a banker. After World War I had ended, he returned to Manheim to compose, devoping a new style of polyphony.

This period lasted from 1934 to 1958. His works often exhibit a humorous aspect (Bunte Suite (1929)). In 1930 he invented “Gesprochene Musik,” the idiom of the “spoken chorus”; his most performed work is the Geographical Fugue or Fuge aus der Geographie, though he regarded it as an unimportant diversion. He wrote music for films, symphonies, chamber music, chamber operas.

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  • rm508

    Need to hear more of his string quartets! They're great!

    22 Sep 2009 Reply