The Song Sketches of Hugo Wolf

Youens, Susan

This articles takes a look at the composer Hugo Wolf who was rumored to create symphonies in a frenzy during one sitting. The author refutes this rumor by analyzing notes and half-finished symphonies created by Wolf and comparing these works to those which he published. The conclusion argues against the romanticizing legend of Wolf composing in a manic frenzy, without need of sketching, of revision, or compositional labor of any kind. Musical decisions both pre- and postdated the sketches that are observed within the article. The changes between the sketches and the final versions testify to Wolf's continuous refinement of each work. The glimpse that these sketches offer of Wolf at work is more compelling and provocative than the romantic evocation of mystical, unmediated inspiration.



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Current Musicology

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Academic Units
Columbia University
Published Here
March 26, 2015