Krenek, Ernst


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Křenek, Ernst

(krĕ`nĕk, Czech kerzhĕ`nĕk), 1900–1991, Austrian-American composer, b. Vienna. to Czech parents. He studied in Vienna and Berlin, and in the early 1920s he composed chamber music, a violin concerto (1924), and two operas, in a neoclassical style. In 1925 he became conductor at the opera house in Kassel. His jazz opera Johnny Strikes Up (1926), was extremely successful and has been translated into many languages. He returned to Vienna in 1928, and after a brief period of neo-Romanticism, during which he wrote the opera Leben des Orest (1930) and a Schubertian song cycle, he gradually adopted the twelve-tone technique (see serial musicserial music,
the body of compositions whose fundamental syntactical reference is a particular ordering (called series or row) of the twelve pitch classes—C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B—that constitute the equal-tempered scale.
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) originated by Arnold Schoenberg. His opera Karl V (1933) is entirely in the twelve-tone system. In 1937, Křenek moved to the United States, where became a citizen (1945). There he taught and composed chamber, orchestral, and choral music and wrote the operas Tarquin (1940) and Sardakai (1969) and the chamber opera Dark Waters (1950). He composed Eleven Transparencies (1956) for orchestra and electronic music. Křenek was also known as lecturer, pianist, and the author of Studies in Counterpoint (1940), Self-Analysis (1950), excerpts from an unpublished autobiography, and Exploring Music (tr. 1966).

Křenek, Ernst

 

Born Aug. 23, 1900, in Vienna. Austrian composer.

Křenek studied with F. Schreker, first at the Vienna Academy of Music and then at the Berlin Higher School of Music. During 1928–37 he lived mainly in Vienna; in 1938 he moved to the USA.

Křenek’s fame developed in the mid-1920’s, with the production of the operas Der Sprung Über Den Schatten (1924) and Jonny Spielt Auf (1927), both of which were also staged in the USSR. He evolved from the late romantic style, through an infatuation with urbanism and constructivism, to a mastery of dodecaphony. He became an active propagandist of dodecaphony. Křenek’s first important dodecaphonic work was the opera Karl V (produced in 1938). He wrote 15 operas, five symphonies, and other works in many genres. He is a music theorist and critic and has lectured at US universities.

REFERENCES

Glebov, Igor’ (Asaf ’ev, B. V.). “Kshenek i Berg, kak opernye kompository.” Sovremennaia muzyka, 1926, nos. 17–18.
Ernst Kshenek i ego opera “Dzh’onni naigryvaet.” [Moscow, 1929.]

Krenek, Ernst

(1900–91) composer; born in Vienna, Austria. Having attracted attention in Germany as a composer, his 1925–26 "jazz opera" Jonny spielt auf was an international success and remains his best-known work. Turning to a more rationalized 12-tone idiom around the time of the opera Karl V (1931–33), he came to the U.S.A. in 1937, where he became an influential avant-garde composer and teacher.