Zemlinsky, Alexander von, (1871-1942), Austrian composer and conductor, an influential member of the circle around Schoenberg, and increasingly recognised as a major composer in his own right. Born in Vienna, he graduated from the Vienna Conservatoire in 1892. In 1895 he met Schoenberg, and for a while gave him lessons; the two men became close friends, fellow-propagandists for new music, and, in 1901, brothers-in-law. Zemlinsky had a distinguished career as a conductor, especially of opera: from 1899 to 1901 in the Viennese opera houses; from 1911 to 1927 at the German Theatre in Prague (where he gave the first performance of Schoenbergs Erwartung in 1924, and where Stravinsky admired his performances of Mozart and Weber); and from 1927 to 1931 at the Kroll Opera in Berlin. With the rise of the Nazi regime, he fled from Berlin to Vienna, Prague, and finally the United States.
In his compositions, Zemlinsky built on the achievements of Mahler and of Schoenbergs earlier period, without embracing Schoenbergs later adoption of atonality and serial technique. The result is music which is full of late-Romantic expressivity, but at the same time intricately detailed in its counterpoint and its thematic economy. Zemlinskys major works include seven completed operas, of which Eine Florentinische Trag?die (1916; A Florentine Tragedy) and Der Zwerg (1921; The Birthday of the Infanta), both with librettos after Oscar Wilde, have been successfully revived and recorded; a series of four string quartets; many songs with piano and with orchestra; and the masterly Lyrische Symphonie (1923; Lyric Symphony, with a text by Tagore) for two voices and orchestra.
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