Ernst Krenek

Ernst Krenek (1900-1991) was one of the most prolific musical figures of his time.  Born with the century in 1900, he lived until 1991 and was active as a composer for more than seven decades.  During that time he played a part in many of the century’s significant artistic movements, from atonality to neoclassicism and from jazz-influenced writing to total serialism, with turns to Schubertian lyricism and avant-garde electronic music at various points.  In addition to his astonishing productivity as a composer (his work list includes 242 compositions), he was also a prolific writer and critic as well as an avid educator.  Virtually the only figure of his time to have had both superstar popular success (with his opera Jonny spielt auf) and credibility as a major modernist, the experience of exile was particularly difficult for Krenek, who continued to be productive until the very end of his life without ever recovering his earlier stature.

Bohuslav Martinu

Despite the fact he spent his last two decades in exile, Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959) was among the most prolific composers of the twentieth century.  Born in a church tower above the Czech–Moravian Highlands, he established himself in both Prague and Paris before the Nazi invasion of France forced him to flee to the United States.  He became a star in the U.S. during the 1940s, but returned to Europe permanently in 1956.  His folk—cantata The Opening of the Wells (1955) became enormously popular in Czechoslovakia, dealing with themes of purity, rebirth, and the pain of exile.


Franz Reizenstein

When Franz Theodor Reizenstein (June 7, 1911 – October 15, 1968) left Berlin in 1934, England presented an obvious sanctuary. His uncle Bruno, who had been injured in the First World War and had married the English nurse who tended his wounds, lived in South London in Kingston-upon-Thames. He acted as guarantor for Franz and several other family members, and provided the beginnings of a local circle. Franz, just 23 when he arrived, had already enjoyed some professional success. The son of Albert Reizenstein, a Nuremberg doctor, and Lina Kohn, his prodigious musical gifts (he wrote his first piece at the age of five) were nurtured by a close and artistic family, and cultivated at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, where he studied composition with Paul Hindemith and piano with Leonid Kreutzer. He had completed his first major piece, a string quartet, by the time he was seventeen. Hindemith insisted that his students have a broad knowledge of instrumental technique.

Franz Schreker

Franz Schreker (23 March 1878–21 March 1934) was an Austrian composer, conductor, teacher and administrator. In his lifetime he went from being hailed as the future of German opera to being considered irrelevant as a composer and marginalized as an educator. During a period when German and Austrian aesthetics were focused on the symphony, Schreker brought innovation to German opera, which at the time labored under the shadow of Richard Wagner. Though the composer was only a few years younger than Schoenberg and Zemlinsky, and a few years older than Berg and Webern, Schreker's music remained primarily tonal, reflecting late Romantic Expressionism, Impressionism, elements of atonality and polytonality and timbral experimentation. His music in general and his operas in particular featured extensive symbolism and naturalism.


Erwin Schulhoff

Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) was a prolific and multi-faceted creative figure whose work embraced a full panoply of styles and influences.  Like Kafka and Mahler, a German Jew in a Czech cultural milieu, the composer took full advantage of his “outsider looking in” status to forge a compelling musical personality.  One of the earliest and most successful exponents of art music drawing on jazz, Schulhoff refracts multiple approaches of his time, from Dada to Expressionism, and from a distanced self-mockery to the stolid seriousness of Socialist Realism.

Marcel Tyberg

Marcel Tyberg (1893–1944) was an accomplished composer, conductor and pianist.  Notable conductors such as Rafael Kubelik and Rodolfo Lipizer premiered his pieces at venues in Prague and Italy.  His eclectic compositional style embraced popular dance music as well as enormous symphonies on the scale of Mahler.  Unfortunately, due to the conditions of World War II, Tyberg, only 1/16th Jewish, was sent to his death and his musical career was prematurely extinguished.  For this reason, many basic details about his life are still unknown.