The unluckiest composer that ever livedmain
From my monthly essay in the new issue of The Critic:
Has there ever been an unluckier composer than Alexander Zemlinsky? Mentored by Brahms, commissioned by Mahler, Zemlinsky gave music lessons to Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Korngold and wrote orchestral suites that were literally the last word in late romanticism as the world hurled itself into war.
In the 1920s he did more than anyone to advance modern opera in Prague and Berlin, narrowly escaping Hitler’s clutches in 1939. But with each step up the ladder, Zemlinsky hit a snake. Mahler left Vienna months after he signed on. His students outshone him, opera houses took him for granted and no sooner did he find a publisher in America than he was felled by a stroke, dying in slow stages aged 70.
Posterity has been no kinder. Riding the Mahler wave in the 1980s, his music paled by false comparison. A 150th anniversary revival planned for 2021 has been choked off by Covid…
Read on here.