Karl Weigl

Karl Weigl


• 1881 1949


Karl Weigl, a student of Zemlinksy who fled Vienna after the Nazi takeover and taught at various U.S. music schools, wrote in an essentially Romantic style but was nevertheless much admired by his Viennese contemporaries, including Schoenberg. Pablo Casals wrote prophetically of Weigl that: "His music will not be lost. We will return to it after the storm has passed. We will return to those who have written real music." It took until the turn of the twenty-first century, when new recordings of Weigl's works came on the market, for Casals' prophecy to be fulfilled.

Born in Vienna in 1881, Weigl worked for Mahler in the latter's capacity as opera conductor. He taught composition and music theory in Vienna in the 1920s and 1930s, but fled Austria in 1938 after the Anschluss with Nazi Germany. Weigl landed a job with a training arm of the New York Philharmonic and later taught at several prominent Eastern music schools. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943, and the last two of his six symphonies dated from his American years. Respected by his American peers and by the many German expatriates who came to influence the American compositional scene, he often enjoyed performances of his works, but they failed to win a permanent place in the repertory as American concert life bifurcated into modernist and classics-only camps. Weigl died in 1949, and a memorial fund established in his name at New York's Mannes College of Music continued to generate performances of his works.