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Austrian (later British) composer, musicologist, and teacher.

Wellesz studied law and musicology from 1904 at the University of Vienna, working under Guido Adler on Baroque and 18th-century opera and receiving a doctorate in 1908. In 1911, he produced an edition of Fux's opera Constanza e fortezza for the series Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich, and in 1913 a study of Cavalli and Venetian opera 1640-60. In 1913, too, he began lecturing in music history at the University, becoming a professor extraordinary there in 1920; he also taught at the Neues Wiener Konservatorium 1911-15, and served for a time as music critic for Der Neue Tag.

He is perhaps now best known for his work in the fields of early Christian and Byzantine chant; in 1916, he solved the problem of deciphering middle-Byzantine neumes; in 1931 he founded the series Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae. Being part-Jewish, in 1939 he moved to Oxford, was a fellow of Lincoln College 1939-74, becoming a British citizen in 1946. He contributed many articles to scholarly journals, wrote a monograph on Fux and several monograph studies of Byzantine chant and of Baroque music.

Wellesz was a private pupil of Schoenberg for a while from 1905, and is considered a member of the Second Viennese School. Universal Edition contracted him as one of its composers in 1915. Between then and 1934, he composed five operas and four ballets, two in collaboration with Hofmannsthal, as well as orchestral works, a piano concerto, four string quartets, much music for piano, Lieder, and works for solo voice and instruments. After 1939, he composed one further opera, nine symphonies, five more string quartets, and much other chamber music, including an octet and a clarinet quintet, and vocal music. In his early career, he was a regular contributor to Der Merker and Musikblätter des Anbruch , and wrote a biography of Schoenberg (1921) ad later a study of the origins of the twelve-tone system (1938).

Wellesz and Schenker

No correspondence or contact between Wellesz and Schenker is known to have occurred, though Schenker undoubtedly knew of him, for Wellesz is occasionally mentioned in his diary and correspondence with others.


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