Tonight we will hear Abendbilder by Hugo Wolf sung by Phillip Addis. Wolf was born on March 13, 1860 and died on February 22, 1903, shortly before he turned 43 years old. In his short life, he left us over 300 pieces of music.
His forte was lieder – art songs. And Abendbilder is a piece composed just before he turned 17! It is based on three poems by Nikolaus Lenau (the pen name for Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau). Wolf was a child prodigy who started learning the piano and violin at the age of 4. He did not work well in a formal school setting as subjects other than music held no interest for him. He left 3 schools before attending the Vienna Conservatory. And even there, he had conflicts with his teachers and left (or was asked to leave depending on who tells the story) after less than 2 years. Despite his lack of formal education, he spent most of his life earning a living as a composer, with a brief stint as a critic.
Another composer who left us too soon and leaves us wondering what else he could have accomplished when he did so much in a short period of time!