Stefan Wolpe

'He does everything wrong and it comes out right.' - Elliott Carter of Stefan Wolpe's music

American composer Stefan Wolpe was born in Berlin to Jewish parents on 25 August 1902. His teachers included Franz Schreker, Ferruccio Busoni and Anton Webern.

He write three operas in 1928-29 - Zeus und Elida, Schöne Geschichten and Anna Blume. His music was dissonant, often using twelve-tone techniques, but as a socialist, he also wrote music for communist theatre groups and workers' unions, in a more accessible style.

When the Nazis came to power, Wolpe fled Germany, to Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the Soviet Union, Austria, Romania, Palestine and finally the USA. He became an American citizen and taught at the Brooklyn School of Music. Later he was director of music at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. From 1956 he tuaght at the C W Post College at Long Island University. His students included Gil Evans, Morton Feldman, Robert D Levin, David Tudor and Ursula Mamlok.

Wolpe's later music was influenced variously by twelve-tone composition, diatonicism, Arabic scales he had heard in Palestine and other methods of tonal organisation.

Stefan Wolpe began to suffer from Parkinson's disease in 1964. He died in New York City on 4 April 1972, aged sixty-nine.


A selection of articles about Stefan Wolpe

Resounding Echoes by Robert McCarney - Imaginary Concert No 2

Limitless Combinatorics - Eric Pettine postulates 'No Shortage of Melodies Anytime Soon', and offers some real hope for cynical musicians who think they've heard it all