Rothmüller, Aron Marko, 1908-1993

Alternative names
Birth 1908-12-31
Death 1993-01-20
German, Yiddish, French, English, Croatian, Hebrew

Biographical notes:

Aron Marko Rothmüller was a singer, composer, musicologist and voice teacher. He was born December 31, 1908 in Trnjani, Croatia and moved to Zagreb when he was about two years old. Rothmüller studied violin, piano and music theory as a youth, then majored in conducting and music composition at the Zagreb Music Academy. Rothmüller went to Vienna in the Autumn of 1928, where he studied musical composition with Alban Berg and, in 1929, voice with Franz Steiner. He remained with both teachers until 1932. In September 1932 he obtained a contract with the Schiller Opera in Hamburg-Altona, Germany and performed his first lead role (Rigoletto) there before his twenty-fourth birthday. Rothmüller was born into a non-religious Jewish family and a career in Germany was impossible after April 1933. According to Rothmüller's first and second wives, Ela and Margrit, he had little interest in Judaism, but felt a genuine passion for Jewish culture and a pride in Zionist causes. He had both Jewish and Slavic first names, as was the custom for Jewish boys in Yugoslavia during this time. On July 28, 1932, Rothmüller founded Omanut, Vererin zur förderung jüdischer Musik (Society for the Development of Jewish music) with David Spitzer. Omanut (Hebrew for "Art") grew to embrace all the Jewish arts as well as include a music publishing wing, Edition Omanut, which published twenty-five pieces between 1933 and 1936. An earlier society for the promotion of Jewish music was founded in Vienna in 1928, and Rothmüller dedicated his song "Scha, Still" to it in 1931. After two years at the National Opera in Zagreb, in 1935, Rothmüller received a contract with the Municipal Theatre in Zürich, Switzerland. He married Ela Reis that same year. They had two children: Ilan, in 1937, and Daniel, in 1943. Rothmüller reconstituted Omanut as a Jewish cultural organization in Zürich in 1941. He composed several chamber works for their concerts that utilized Jewish topics and musical motives. During the war years. Switzerland was a safe haven for many German-speaking Jews and Omanut's concerts were of very high quality, which attracted many assimilated Jews. As an opera singer, Rothmüller's reputation was so well-established that he managed to have his mother released from an Italian detainment camp by an alleged friend in the Vatican, ca. 1943. Of the six Rothmüller children, four would emigrate to Israel. A sister who remained in Zagreb was killed, along with her husband, in the Holocaust. Rothmüller sang the role of Truchsess at the 1938 world premiere of Paul Hindemith's opera Mathis der Maler. He left Zürich in 1948 and embarked on an international singing career that took him to the Vienna State Opera, London's Covent Garden, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and New York's Metropolitan Opera, among others. Perhaps the highlight of his career was creating the title role in Alban Berg's Wozzek (London, 1951) and later in Buenos Aires and New York. Rothmüller published his comprehensive history of Jewish music, Die Musik der Juden, in 1951. The English translation, The Music of the Jews, was first published in 1953. Rothmüller accepted a full-time position teaching voice at Indiana University in 1955. He retired from Indiana in 1979 and received a Fulbright Award to head the voice department at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem from 1981-82. In 1978 he published a pedagogy textbook, Pronunciation of German and German Diction. Rothmüller's last known composition dates from 1980 (Sonata for Double Bass) and he identified over twenty compositions as "Jewish Music" on his own list of his compositions. Rothmüller and his first wife Ela divorced in 1970. In 1983 he married Margrit Silberstein, whom he knew from his years in Zürich. Aron Marko Rothmüller died in Bloomington, Indiana on January 20, 1993.

From the description of Music scores and papers, 1931-2002. (Jewish Theological Seminary of America). WorldCat record id: 65404028


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  • Song of Solomon (Music)
  • Hebrew Poetry--Readings with music
  • Sonatas (Violoncello)
  • Psalms (Music)--13th Psalm
  • Plucked instrument trios (Harps (3))
  • Piano trios
  • Monologues with music (Orchestra)
  • Violoncello with chamber orchestra--Scores
  • Jews--Music
  • Suites (Trombone and timpani with string orchestra)
  • Musical sketches
  • Suites (Violoncellos (2))
  • Sacred monologues with music (Orchestra)
  • Violoncello and piano music
  • Viola with chamber orchestra--Scores
  • Sacred songs (Medium voice) with instrumental ensemble
  • String quartets--Scores
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano
  • Sonatas (Double bass)


  • Vocalists


  • United States (as recorded)
  • Croatia--Zagreb (as recorded)
  • Croatia--Zagreb (as recorded)
  • Switzerland--Zurich (as recorded)
  • Croatia--Zagreb (as recorded)
  • Switzerland--Zurich (as recorded)
  • Switzerland--Zurich (as recorded)
  • Switzerland--Zürich (as recorded)
  • Switzerland--Zurich (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)