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Schoeck, Othmar (1886-1957)

Othmar Schoeck

born: 1 September 1886
died: 8 March 1957
country: Switzerland

The Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck is known above all as a significant composer of Lieder. His lifetime’s output of songs with piano, and his major orchestral song-cycles such as Elegie and Lebendig begraben (‘Buried alive’), mark him out as someone who succeeded in saying something fresh and expressively rich while developing the song-writing traditions of Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss. His operas, including Venus (1919–21), Penthesilea (1923–5) and Massimilla Doni (1934–6), are also admired even if rarely staged, and a work like Penthesilea shows that Schoeck was capable of radical and even violent utterance very different from his lyric song style. He wrote little for orchestra without voice, however: mainly occasional pieces, though they include a late concerto each for cello and for horn, each with string orchestra accompaniment.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2013

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