"The genuine work of art is as organic as a
tree developing out of a seed, growing, blooming; its splendour is
natural yet intangible, a thousand fragments joining, and yet of
unimaginable beauty beyond description..." (Joseph Marx)
Joseph Marx's life briefly:
Joseph Rupert Rudolf Marx (sometimes
incorrectly spelled Josef Marx) was born 11 May 1882 in
Graz/Austria. He first studied music with his mother, then was educated at Johann Buwa's piano school where - among
many others - Hugo Wolf had also been a student. There he was also
taught to play the violin and meanwhile autodidactically learned
the cello too. His first exercises in composition date from his
time at secondary school when he began to arrange pieces for trio
or quartet from existing themes. In the meantime he had also become
a member of the piano school's ensemble as a piano accompanist. His
parents forbade him to play the piano but he found other ways to
realise his love for music. It was at this time that he began to
compose his first piano pieces and to perform them with the
ensemble of his music school. Before having finished secondary
school he planned (or pretended?) to become a watchmaker while he
was thinking of starting an education in photography, but then he
turned back to secondary school and finally finished his studies.
At Graz University he attended courses in philosophy and art
history after having followed for only one year his father's wish
that he should read law. This decision produced a break between him
and his family. Nevertheless, his strong interest in music made him
continue to compose at the age of 26 so that within only four years
(1908-12) he wrote around 120 songs. His name became known in
Vienna, where in 1914 he was offered the post of professor of
theory at the music academy.
In 1922 he became director of the
academy, and he was rector (1924-27) when the institution was
reorganized as a Hochschule fur Musik. He then acted as adviser to
the Turkish government in laying the foundations of a conservatory
in Ankara (1932-33). From 1931 to 1938 he was music critic for the
Neues Wiener Journal and after World War 2 he worked in the same
capacity for the Wiener Zeitung; during World War 2 Marx was the
most frequently performed composer in Austria which becomes
apparent in the fact that he has later been president, chairman or
honorary member of many important Austrian music associations and
societies over two decades until he died 3 Sept 1964 in Graz at the
age of 82. During his 43 years as a teaching professor in
composition, harmony and counterpoint Marx had 1255 students from
all over the world many of which later achieved national and
worldwide fame as composers, conductors, soloists, musicologists
etc. As Marx enjoyed great popularity and much respect during his
lifetime, there is no question that he had an immense impact on at
least two generations of musicians in the
Joseph Marx was a tall and rather strongly built man. He was considered an excellent pianist who used to accompany his own compositions on the piano with often quite demanding piano parts until old age, electrifying critics and audience alike. His students, acquaintances and colleagues described him as an out-and-out individualist and, at the same time, as an open and frank man with a philosophical background and a subtle sense of humour. He was always described as witty and eloquent and as someone who knew how to express his thoughts brilliantly. That is why his lessons were given in a stimulating and humorous atmosphere where he sometimes told anecdotes about his encounters with many renowned composers whom he knew or had known personally (for example Puccini, Szymanowsky, Franz Schmidt). The course of his lessons was characterized by improvisation: The students were not allowed to take notes in order to develop an intuitive over a mechanical understanding and practical application. He used to further the talents of his students in an almost imperceptible way and corrected them only if they committed technical mistakes. It is also known that Marx gave private lessons to many of his students in need of additional support, even in his spare time and without demanding any fee. Despite his very critical attitude towards the atonal avant-garde he also praised compositions of young modernists provided that they could be assigned at least to some extent to tonal music. He was respected by students and colleagues alike, even by those advocating a very different musical style. In this context it may be noted that many of his students coming from different parts of the globe later achieved national and worldwide fame in their respective musical line. The fact that the total estate of letters to Marx consisted of 14589 pieces from 3420 correspondents (!), including a host of well-known persons, should be a clear indication of the popularity and the renown of Joseph Marx who due to several unfortunate circumstances fell into oblivion after his death.
The unique "Marx sound" reminds the listener of Debussy, Scriabin, Delius, Ravel, Respighi, J. Jongen, Vladigerov, Reger, Schreker, R. Strauss, Korngold, Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner but is in the end totally his own. Regarding his Lieder for which he became famous (these were mainly composed before he was 30 years of age) he is said to be the rightful successor to Hugo Wolf. The southern atmosphere in many of his works has its origin from his mother who was half Italian half Slav. Marx was a late romantic impressionist whose musical inspiration was nourished by his deep and spiritual tie to Mother Nature to whom he wrote so many glorious hymns of love. This is why the mood of his music is so sensuous, optimistic and even hedonistic, a work of art created by a happy man who wants to share his delight with others.
The following photographs were shot by Martin
Rucker on April 1, 2003.
"In this house lived the composer Joseph Marx
from 1915 to 1964.
Dedicated by the Mozartgemeinde (Mozart Society), Vienna 1965."
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MARX'S FATE AS ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED MASTERS OF TWENTIETH CENTURY'S MUSIC READ THE FOLLOWING CHAPTERS.Next chapter
A NEW YEAR'S HYMN & MOUNTAIN HYMN
by Joseph Marx
St. Esser & B. Haydin
* * * published by Universal Edition * * *
Click here for detailed info,
music samples (MP3) and score pages
The orchestra recreation - Großes Orchester Graz has performed the
under the baton of the conductor Michel Swierczewski
in the Stefaniensaal in Graz, Austria.
* * * First performance since 80 years * * *
The author of this website attended
this rare, major musical event and made available a
full report on its enthusiastic reception in Austria
The Joseph Marx Society (founded in April 2006 by Berkant Haydin) has its own website:
The Joseph Marx Society invites all music lovers to become a member or to support the Society with a kind donation. Please contact the General Secretary, Berkant Haydin (author of this website joseph-marx.org).
www.joseph-marx.org is a private website created by Berkant Haydin.|
The purpose of this website is to provide information about the life
and works of this composer and to celebrate his magic music.
www.joseph-marx.org should not be confused with the
website of the Joseph Marx Society mentioned above.