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Austrian composer and conductor.

Career Summary

Zemlinsky achieved early success as a composer with chamber works that won the approval of Brahms when performed by the Tonkünstlerverein in Vienna. He met the 18-year old Arnold Schoenberg in 1893, conducting an amateur orchestra in which Schoenberg played cello and providing him with some basic technical instruction in composition. Schoenberg would marry Zemlinsky's sister Mathilde in 1901, and the two were close colleagues in the struggle to promote progressive new music in Vienna between 1903 and 1911.

Zemlinsky's career as a conductor began in Vienna in 1900 and with Mahler's support he was appointed to posts at the Theater an der Wien (1903‒04) and the Volksoper (1904‒11). As a composer he achieved notable success in opera and chamber music, as well as with his rather Mahlerian Lyric Symphony (1922‒23). After prestigious conducting posts in Leipzig and Berlin (1911‒31) he returned to Vienna before leaving for America in 1938. He died there in 1942.

Zemlinsky and Schenker

Zemlinsky was co-signatory with Schoenberg and Gutheil to one letter to Schenker of January 1904 (OJ 14/15, [8]). He is mentioned once, in a letter to Julius Röntgen of April 13, 1901 in which Schenker reports that the bass soloist Eduard Gärtner sang Schenker's Wiegenliedchen, together with songs by Zemlinsky and others, with Zemlinsky as his accompanist (NMI C 176-01).


  • Arnold Whittall, with Ian Bent

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