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TROUBADISC composers

Erwin Schulhoff


Erwin Schulhoff was born in Prague on 8 June 1894. Recommended by Antonín Dvorák, Schulhoff was accepted already at the age of 10 as a piano student at the Prague Conservatory. He continued his studies in Vienna in 1906 (under Willi Thern), Leipzig in 1908 (piano under Robert Teichmüller, composition under Stephan Krehl and Max Reger) and Cologne in 1913 (under Lazzaro Uzielli, Carl Friedberg, Franz Bölsche, Ewald Strasser and Fritz Steinbach).

Passing his exams with distinction (Wüllner Prize), he was also two-time recipient of the Felix-Mendelssohn Prize: as a pianist in 1913 and as a composer in 1918. After serving in the Austrian army during the war, he lived in Germany until 1923. There he devoted himself to the radical directions of the avant-garde (dadaism and jazz, and he even composed a jazz-oratorio, "HMS Royal Oaks" and his most well-known work, the "Hot Sonata"), where he was also influenced by impressionism, expressionism and neo-classicism, occurring one after the other or even in parallel.

As a gifted pianist, he specialized in jazz and in the quarter-tone repertoire of Alois Hába and his students. Returning to Prague in 1923, he was very successful as a composer as well as an internationally appreciated pianist (particularly in Germany). Nevertheless he was not able to continue his career in Germany after 1933. The Berlin world premiere of his opera "Flammen" was cancelled due to the political changes following the beginning of the Nazi regime.

In the1930s abandoning numerous things previously appreciated, such as symphonic jazz, he then turned to writing symphonies in the style of socialist realism. This reflected a sharp contrast to his work for the Prague Radio in Ostrava, where he, being banned from profession since 1939, continued to work under a pseudonym as a jazz pianist.

Having adopted the Soviet nationality in 1941 he applied for a visa to the Soviet Union in April. However, although the visa had been granted on 13 June, it was too late: Schulhoff, who due to Germany’s declaration of war against the Soviet Union had now become citizen of an enemy state, was interned in Prague on 23 June 1941 and deported to the Wülzburg concentration camp near Weissenburg in Bavaria, where he died on 18(?) August 1942. Schulhoff’s work includes an opera, ballets, six symphonies, numerous works of chamber-music, solo works, concertos, songs and choral works.

book tip

Josef Bek: "Erwin Schulhoff - Leben und Werk"
Bockel Verlag, Hamburg 1994

"Zum Einschlafen gibt's genügend Musiken"
Die Referate des Erwin Schulhoff-Kolloquiums,
Düsseldorf März 1994 von Bockel Verlag, Hamburg 1996


LAST Change: Friedemann Kupsa
(28.01.2015 - 20:24 Uhr)

CMS myty by ©2005 a belle artes project

Erwin Schulhoff

"... all art is useless ..."

Schulhoff's motto touches on something that Stefan Wolpe expressed with other words:

"Dada riß Kultur nieder, um den Menschen dasVorurteil auszutreiben, Kultur könne die Menschen vor der endlosen Metzelei retten." (Dada tore down culture to strip people of the prejudice that culture could save humanity from the eternal slaughter.)


The first print of a composition
by Erwin Schulhoff