Weigl, Karl 1881-1949

Birth 1881
Death 1949
English, German

Biographical notes:

Suggested by the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. Composed 1942-45. First performance Carnegie Hall, New York, 27 October 1968, American Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conductor. Inscribed: "In memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt" (work completed 16 April 1945, the day of Roosevelt's death). Dedicated to the people of the United Nations.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Apocalyptic symphony (fifth symphony) for full orchestra / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944112

Originally composed for piano, 1909; orchestra 1922. German title: Bilder und Geschichten. First performance Vienna, 1924, Vienna Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Nilius conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Pictures and tales : suite for small orchestra, op. 2 / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944059

Originally a children's operetta with piano accompaniment only. Composed 1932. First performance of suite St. Paul, Minnesota, October 1977, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of The pied piper of Hamelin : Orchester Suite zu "Der Rattenfänger von Hamelin N. 1 = The pied piper suite #1 : Vorspiel = Prelude / von Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944065

Suggested by H. Chleunberg's drama: Miracles around Verdun. Composed 1933.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Symphonisches Vorspiel zu einer Tragödie = symphonic prelude to a tragedy / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944084

Composed 1940.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Rhapsody for piano and orchestra / by Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944070

From the description of Summer evening music for string orchestra / by Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944081

Composed 1936.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Symphony no. 4 / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944105

Composed 1928. First performance Vienna, 1931, Nikolai Malko conductor, Josef Wolfsthal soloist. First performance in the United States, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, 17 December 1966, Musica Aeterna series, Frederic Waldman conductor, Sidney Harth soloist.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Konzert für Violine und Orchester / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944031

Composed 1939. First performance New York, The Mall - Central Park, 28 May 1978, Memorial Day Concert, Naumberg Symphony Orchestra, Richard Woitach conductor. Original title Tänze aus dem Alten Wien, subsequently changed to City that was.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Tänze aus dem alten Wien = Dances from old Vienna / Karl Weigl. [1939] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944056

Composed 1939, originally titled Spring overture. Dedicated to the composer's son John Wolfgang Weigl.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Spring overture for small orchestra / by Karl Weigl. [1939] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944051

Austrian-American composer.

From the description of The Karl Weigl Papers. 1894-1986 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 702164762

Composed 1934.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Concerto for 'cello and orchestra / Karl Weigl. [1939] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944040

Composed 1931.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Third symphony in B♭ major / von Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944101

Composed 1938.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Festival prelude / Karl Weigl. [1938] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944043

Originally composed in five movements 1912-22. First performance Bochum, Ruhr, Germany, 2 May 1924, Bochum Municipal Orchestra, Rudolf Schulz-Dornburg conductor. Fourth movement later deleted from symphony and performed separately as Phantastic Intermezzo, Op. 18 (see callno.: 6659). First performance of symphony in present form Vienna, ca. 1925, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Orchester, Robert Heger conductor. Third movement, Pro Defunctis, is dedicated to the unknown soldiers of World War I and may be performed separately.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of II. Symphonie, op. 19 / Karl Weigl. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 56944098

Karl Weigl was born in Vienna on February 6, 1881. His father, Ludwig Weigl, was a bank officer and amateur musician, and his mother, Ella Gabriele Stein-Jeitteles, encouraged Karl's interest in music and arranged early composition studies with Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1902 Karl graduated with high honors from the Vienna Musikakademie, where he had studied composition with Robert Fuchs and piano with Anton Door. At the University of Vienna, Weigl studied musicology and philosophy with Guido Adler, earning a Ph.D. in 1904. His dissertation discussed the life and work of Emanuel Aloys Förster (1748-1823), an Austrian composer and contemporary of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The same year, Weigl joined Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and other composers in founding the Vereinigung schaffender Tonk@nstler, a society formed for the promotion of new music in Vienna. The society's single season, 1904-1905, included performances of major works by Strauss, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, and Mahler, as well as chamber music and songs of Viennese composers including Weigl. During 1904-1906, Weigl served as a rehearsal coach at the Vienna Hofoper, under Mahler's directorship. This position provided Weigl with an opportunity to work closely with Mahler and regularly observe him in rehearsal and performance.

Strongly influenced by composers such as Brahms, Wolf, and Mahler, Weigl's compositional style followed the late Romantic tradition. Mahler arranged performances of some of his works, including his String Sextet, premiered in Vienna in 1907 by the Rosé Quartet. In 1910 Weigl was awarded the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde's Beethoven Prize for his String Quartet #3, also performed by the Rosé Quartet. The same year, his Symphony no. 1 was premiered in Zurich, and he obtained a publishing contract with Universal-Edition. Weigl produced a large number of songs and choral works during this period, and he continued to compose prolifically in vocal genres throughout his life. In 1910 Weigl married singer Elsa Pazeller. The marriage ended in divorce in 1913, but Weigl maintained contact with their daughter Maria, born in 1911. He served in the Austrian Army during the First World War, spending 1916-1917 in Croatia. Much of Weigl's music was influenced by his strong pacifism and by his love of nature, particularly the Austrian Alps. The second movement of his Symphony no. 2, "Pro Defunctis," composed 1912-1922, is dedicated to the unknown soldiers of the First World War.

In 1921 Weigl married Valerie (Vally) Pick, a pianist and composer. Born in Vienna in 1899, Vally Pick had studied piano with Richard Robert and composition with Karl Weigl, and had attended the University of Vienna, where she studied musicology with Guido Adler and minored in philosophy and psychology. She taught as Richard Robert's assistant, at the University of Vienna's Musicological Institute, and privately in Vienna and Salzburg. Karl and Vally's son, Wolfgang Johannes, was born in 1926. Karl, who was Jewish, was baptized as a Protestant Christian the same year.

Weigl gained increasing recognition for his music during the 1920s-30s. In 1922, he was awarded a prize by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for a choral work titled Hymn . In 1924, he was awarded the Prize of the City of Vienna for his cantata Weltfeier, published in vocal score by B. Schotts Söhne the same year. Several of Weigl's orchestral works were performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. Performances of other works included his Piano Concerto, by Ignaz Friedman; String Quartet no. 5, by the Busch Quartet, and Five Songs for Soprano and String Quartet, by Elisabeth Schumann and the Rosé Quartet. Weigl also established a career as an educator. He began teaching music theory at the Vienna Conservatory in 1918, was awarded the title of Professor by the Austrian government in 1928, and in 1929 succeeded Hans Gál as Professor of Musicology at the University of Vienna. Weigl attracted a large number of students, including many English and American students whom he taught during summer courses in Salzburg. Notable Weigl students include Ernst Bacon, Hanns Eisler, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Erich Zeisl, Kurt Adler, Frederic Waldman, Charles Rosen, Roman Totenberg, Alice Ehlers, Henriette Michelson, and Daniel Sternberg.

Because of his Jewish background and socialist views, Weigl lost his teaching positions, the right to perform his music publicly, and nearly his life when a Nazi government was established in Austria in 1938. Karl and Vally pursued plans for emigration by contacting musicians outside of Europe, former American and English students, and Quaker and other American organizations. Through the efforts of Ira Hirschmann, founder of the New Friends of Music Orchestra in New York, Karl, Vally, and Wolfgang Johannes were able to emigrate to the United States. The Weigl family arrived in New York City on October 9, 1938, on board the SS Statendam with other emigrants including Kurt Adler and Emmanuel Feuermann. Weigl's daughter Maria and her husband Gerhart Piers arrived in the United States in 1939.

Unknown in the United States, Karl and Vally Weigl struggled to obtain employment in difficult wartime circumstances shared by other artist emigrants. Karl initially worked as a research assistant to Carlton Sprague Smith at the New York Public Library and then held a series of temporary teaching positions at the New York Philharmonic Training and Scholarship Program, 1939-1944; the Hartt School of Music, 1941-1942; Brooklyn College, 1943-1945; the New England Conservatory, 1945-1948; the American Theater Wing, 1946-1949; and the Philadelphia Musical Academy, 1948-1949. Vally taught privately, at a Quaker school in Pennsylvania, and in New York at the Institute for Avocational Music, 1939-1943, and the American Theater Wing, 1947-1958. Karl and Vally also performed, sometimes as duo pianists. Wolfgang Johannes, who changed his name to John, attended a Quaker school and later studied at Columbia University, where he graduated with an engineering degree in 1946. Karl, Vally, and John became American citizens in 1943.

Weigl continued to compose in the United States, producing orchestral music, chamber music, songs, and choral works. While some of these works were performed and published, much of Weigl's older music remained unperformed in the United States, and many of his later works, including his last two symphonies and last three string quartets, were never played during his lifetime. Though still based in New York City, both Karl and Vally spent some summers in the MacDowell Colony in Peterboro, New Hampshire, and they made trips to visit their children. Maria Piers, a psychologist, and her husband Gerhart, a physician, settled in Chicago. John Weigl married Etta Ruth Hoskins in 1946 and completed a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

Karl Weigl died in New York City on August 11, 1949. Following Karl's death, Vally Weigl devoted much energy to promotion of his memory and performance of his music. In 1966, the Karl Weigl Memorial Fund was established through the efforts of Vally, Ira Hirschmann, Frederic Waldman, Kurt Adler, and other Weigl students and colleagues. The Fund supported performance and recording of Weigl's music, notably including a 1968 performance of his Symphony no. 5, "Apocalyptic," by Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Administration of the Karl Weigl Memorial Fund was transferred to Indiana University in 1979. Other funds supporting performance and recording of Weigl's music were established at Baylor University, the Eastman School of Music, and the Aspen Music Festival. Vally Weigl preserved Karl's papers, music manuscripts, and published music through a bequest to John and Etta Ruth Weigl and donations to the New York Public Library, the Moldenhauer Archive, the Fleischer Collection, and the Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music.

Vally Weigl continued to teach and compose. In the 1950s, she began pursuing an interest in music therapy. After earning an M.A. from Columbia University in 1955, she served as Chief Music Therapist at the New York Medical College, taught at the Roosevelt Cerebral Palsy School, Long Island, and directed research projects at Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Home for the Jewish Aged in New York City. In 1964, she was appointed chairman of the Friends' Arts For World Unity Committee. She made donations from her manuscripts to the Moldenhauer Archive and the University of Wyoming, and in 1982 she established a Vally Weigl Performance and Recording Fund at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. Vally Weigl died in New York City on December 25, 1982. John Weigl, who had worked as a research manager for the Xerox Corporation in Webster, New York, died on August 1, 1982. Following Vally's death, "The Music of Karl Weigl (1881-1949): A Catalog," edited by Stephen Davison, was published with the support of the Weigl family and funding from an endowment established by Vally Weigl. The Karl Weigl Papers were donated to the Yale Music Library in 1989-1993 by Etta Ruth Weigl and her sons Karl and Andrew.

From the guide to the The Karl Weigl Papers, 1894-1986 (inclusive), (Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University)


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  • String quartets--Scores and parts
  • Songs (Medium voice) with instrumental ensemble--Scores
  • Piano music (4 hands), Arranged
  • String orchestra music--Scores and parts
  • Sextets (Piano, bassoon, clarinet, flute, horn, oboe), Arranged--Scores
  • Concertos (Violoncello )--Scores
  • Songs (high voice) with instrumental ensemble--Scores
  • Canon, fugues, etc. (Organ)
  • Songs (Medium voice) with organ
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano
  • Songs
  • Songs (Low voice with instrumental ensemble)--Scores
  • Concertos
  • Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
  • Concertos (Violin)--Scores and parts
  • Choruses
  • Cantatas, Secular--Score
  • Piano with orchestra--Scores
  • Piano with orchestra--Scores and parts
  • Preludes (Organ)
  • Symphonies--Scores and parts
  • Songs (low voice) with piano
  • Piano music
  • Chamber music
  • Vocal quartets with piano
  • Rhapsodies (Music)
  • Symphonies--Scores
  • Dance music
  • Overtures--Scores
  • Concertos (Violoncello)--Solo with piano
  • Opera--Excerpts--Scores and parts
  • Passacaglias (Organ)
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with piano
  • Suites (Orchestra)--Scores and parts
  • String orchestra music--Scores
  • Music--Manuscripts
  • Songs (High voice) with orchestra--Scores
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Piano trios--Scores
  • Composers
  • Piano music (4 hands)--Juvenile
  • Operas, Juvenile--Excerpts
  • Songs (High voice) with orchestra--Vocal scores with piano
  • Orchestral music, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Composers--Correspondence
  • Concertos (Piano, 1 hand)--Solo with piano
  • Piano music (pianos (2)--Scores
  • Songs (High voice) with instrumental ensemble--Vocal scores with piano
  • Concertos (Violoncello)--Scores and parts
  • Chamber orchestra music--Scores
  • Chamber orchestra music, Arranged--Scores
  • Songs (High voice) with piano
  • Songs (Medium voice) with instrumental ensemble--Vocal scores with piano
  • Piano music (4 hands)
  • Orchestral music--Scores and parts
  • String quartets--Scores
  • Symphonies (Piano, 4 hands), Arranged
  • Suites (Orchestra)--Scores
  • Suites (Chamber orchestra)--Scores and parts
  • Overtures--Scores and parts
  • Orchestral music
  • Overtures (Piano, 4 hands), Arranged
  • Songs with piano
  • Chamber orchestra music--Scores and parts
  • Violin and piano music--Scores and parts
  • Violoncello and piano music--Parts
  • Violoncello with orchestra--Scores and parts
  • Violin with orchestra--Scores and parts
  • Opera
  • Saxophone and piano music, Arranged--Parts
  • Orchestral music--Scores
  • Pied Piper of Hamelin (Tale)


  • Collector


  • Correspondence (as recorded)