Kaun, Hugo, 1863-1932

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German composer and choral conductor.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : [n.p., Berlin?], 21 June 1914, to an unidentified friend, 1914 June 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270578776

Hugo Kaun, composer and choral conductor, was born on March 21, 1863 in Berlin, Germany. Although born into a merchant family, he composed prolifically as a youth. He studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin (1879-80) and in 1881 began a determined study of the piano with Oscar Raif. At the same time he attended the composition classes of Friedrich Kiel at the Prussian Academy of Arts. Kaun busied himself with piano teaching, composition and conducting a mixed chorus, but following his father's death in 1886, he went to the USA, settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where there was a large German community; while there, Kaun associated with, among others, the music theorist Bernhard Ziehn. A hand injury forced him to give up thoughts of a career as a pianist, and so he spent his years in the USA teaching, composing and directing a choral society, the Milwaukee Liederkranz. Some of his works were performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Theodore Thomas, who was one of the early champions of Kaun's music.

Kaun returned to Berlin in 1902, and by the 1920s his fame as a composer had spread throughout German-speaking Europe. In 1912 he was elected a member of the Academy of Arts and in 1922 he joined the composition staff of the Berlin Conservatory. Kaun was a prolific composer whose output embraces most genres. Of his four neo-Wagnerian operas, Der Fremde (1920) was regarded as the most significant, though in the more radical cultural climate of the Weimar Republic, it quickly disappeared from the repertory, and attempts to revive it during the Third Reich faltered. Although Kaun died one year before Hitler came to power, his nationalist choral works, particularly those for unaccompanied male chorus, enjoyed great popularity throughout Germany after his death.

Hugo Kaun died on April 2, 1932 in Berlin.

W.D. Gudger and E. Levi: ‘Kaun, Hugo’, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 23 February 2005), <http://www.grovemusic.com>

From the guide to the Hugo Kaun papers, 1882-1980, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bekker, Paul, 1882-1937. The Paul Bekker papers, 1883-1937 (bulk). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Kaun, Hugo, 1863-1932. Autograph letter signed, dated : [n.p., Berlin?], 21 June 1914, to an unidentified friend, 1914 June 21. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn The Paul Bekker Papers, 1883-1937 (bulk) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Jan Peerce collection of sound recordings, 1932-1983 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Bach, Christoph, 1835-1927. Sheet Music Collection, 1846-1963, n.d. Marquette University Raynor Memorial Library, John P. Raynor Library
referencedIn Moldenhauer Archives at the Library of Congress, circa 1000-circa 1990 Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Thomas, Theodore, 1835-1905. Theodore and Rose Fay Thomas Felsengarten collection, 1814-1905. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Rosenthal Archives
referencedIn Arthur M. Abell papers, 1829-1976 (inclusive, 1905-1958 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Abell, Arthur M. Papers, 1829-1976 (inclusive), 1905-1958 (bulk). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Hugo Kaun papers, 1882-1980 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Kaun, Hugo, 1863-1932. Aus den Bergen / Hugo Kaun. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abell, Arthur M. person
associatedWith American Music Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Anders, Erich, 1883-1955 person
associatedWith Bekker, Paul, 1882-1937. person
associatedWith Bruch, Max, 1838-1920 person
associatedWith Kaun, Bernard person
associatedWith Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection (Pierpont Morgan Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Moldenhauer, Hans. person
associatedWith Peerce, Jan, 1904-1984 person
associatedWith Thomas, Theodore, 1835-1905. person
associatedWith Weiss, Margaret (Putti) person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Composers--Germany--20th century
Suites (Violoncello and piano)--Scores
Violoncello and piano music--Scores
Suites (Saxophone and piano)--Scores
Saxophone and piano music--Scores


Birth 1863-03-21

Death 1932-04-02



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