Hugo Wolf

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Wolf, Hugo

(ho͞o`gō vôlf), 1860–1903, Austrian composer; studied at the Vienna Conservatory. From 1883 to 1887 he wrote musical criticism for the Vienna Salonblatt. As a composer he first gained attention when his songs began to be published in 1889. Wolf's more than 300 Lieder place him with Schubert and Schumann as a supreme master of that form. He wrote many songs with texts by Goethe, Mörike, Eichendorff, and other German poets, but he also used foreign lyrics in translation, as in his Spanisches Liederbuch (1889) and Italienisches Liederbuch (Part I, 1891; Part II, 1896). Wolf borrowed Wagner's chromatic harmony and symphonic conception of accompaniment, but in his songs he transformed them into his own miniaturistic idiom. He also wrote an opera, Der Corregidor (1896; based on Alarcón's El Sombrero de tres picos), as well as choral works and some chamber music. In 1897 he had a mental breakdown and later at his own request was committed to a state asylum, where he died.


See biographies by E. Newman (1966) and F. Walker (2d. ed. 1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wolf, Hugo


Born Mar. 13, 1860, in Windischgraz (Slovenjgradec, Yugoslavia); died Feb. 22, 1903, in Vienna. Austrian composer and music critic.

Wolf studied at the Vienna Conservatory (1875-77). He collaborated on the weekly Wiener Salonblatt, in the pages of which he was very critical of J. Brahms. As a result there was prejudice towards Wolf in Vienna as a composer. His first mature works—songs for voice and piano based on poems by E. Morike, J. Eichendorff, and J. W. Goethe— were composed in 1888. In these pieces, following the example of R. Schumann and R. Wagner, Wolf strove to attain an organic fusion of music and words, along with a detailed psychological revelation of the text. Basing his work on speech intonations, the composer wrote a number of songs which are perceived as dramatic scenes. During the 1890’s, together with songs (based on words by G. Keller and Michelangelo; Spanish Songbook and Italian Songbook) Wolf turned to the genre of comic opera, dealing with everyday events (Der Corregidor, composed in 1895), and music drama (Manuel Venegas, composed in 1897, unfinished). He also wrote symphonic works (the poem Penthesilea, 1885; the Italian Serenade for small orchestra, 1892), a string quartet (1884), and a number of literary works. In 1898, Wolf was placed in a clinic for the mentally ill, where he later died.


Rolland, R. Muzykanty nashikh dnei. Moscow, 1938.
Vul’fius, P. “Gugo Vol’f.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1960, no. 4.
Vul’fius, P. Gugo Vol’f i ego “Stikhotvoreniia ekhendorfa.” Moscow, 1970.
Decsey, E. Hugo Wolf, vols. 1-4. Leipzig-Berlin, 1903-06.
Walker, F. Hugo Wolf. London [1968].
Hugo Wolf: Personlichkeit und Werk: Ausstellung zum 100. Geburtstag. Vienna, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.