Why haven’t I heard of him?

Imagine an unknown composer, born late in 1871, who writes wonderful music.

This composer has studied with Anton Bruckner, whom people know.

The music of this composer is championed by a well-known composer by the name of Johannes Brahms, who attends performances of this composer’s work, even recommending it to an established publisher who has published many fine composers.

This composer becomes friends and later brothers-in-law with Arnold Schoenberg.  In fact, he even gives counterpoint lessons to Schoenberg, becoming the only formal teacher the eventual pioneer of the 12-tone system would ever have.  (NB: this composer never writes atonal music in spited of this relationship).

The music of this composer is conducted by Gustave Mahler, who eventually marries his former girlfriend, Alma.

He influences composer Alban Berg, and possibly others, including Igor Stravinsky and Kurt Weill, who admire his conducting and promotion of contemporary music.

He writes symphonies, string quartets, choral works, songs, works for piano, etc. – all the standard fare of a composer of his time.  He is both active and celebrated in his native Vienna.  The rise of the Nazis prompts is emigration to America.

Sadly, his wonderful music does not capture the admiration of his new homeland and, becoming increasingly ill, he eventually ceases his composition life until his death in Larchmont, New York in March, 1942.

Who knows the mysterious workings of the universe, i.e. the social forces and nebulous societal “tastes” that can make or break an individual artist’s career?

Alexander Zemlinsky seemed to have a lot going for him, especially a lot of “the right” contacts in his field.

So, I’m listening to his gorgeous String Quartet No. 2, and wondering, why…?




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