Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies
March 13, 1860 in Windischgraz, Austria (now Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia)
February 22, 1903 in Vienna, Austria
Vocal Music (Lieder), Choral Music, Chamber Music
Sechs Gedichte von Scheffel
Mörike Liederbuch (1888)
Goethe Liederbuch (1889)
Spanisches Liederbuch (1889)
Italienisches Liederbuch (Part I, 1891 - Part II, 1896)
Italian Serenade (string quartet)
Wolf played the violin, piano and organ as a child and studied briefly at the Vienna Conservatory from 1875 to 1877 where he met his idol Richard Wagner. He wrote musical criticism for the Wiener Salonblatt, taking sides with Wagner and Anton Bruckner against Johannes Brahms. It was difficult for Wolf to get his compositions performed during this period due to his printed views. Wolf was broke most of his life and at times had to make due with one meal a day. His bad temper made it difficult to keep students. He was said to be small, of mean build, thin and undernourished.
In 1888, Wolf was living in a friend's villa in Perchtoldsdorf near Vienna where he had a period of intense creativeness. He wrote many songs with texts by Goethe, Eduard Mörike, Eichendorff, and other German poets. He also used foreign lyrics in translation. He continued and extended the lied tradition of Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann, but he was original in his conception of the songbook as the larger dramatic form. His later life was clouded by illness, depression and final insanity. Wolf becoming manic-depressive and was sent to a lunatic asylum, mad at the age of 43.