#composer: Erwin Schulhoff

#composer: Erwin Schulhoff

The Czech composer and pianist Erwin Schulhoff was born in Prague in 1894 into a Jewish family. His works are best known for their synthesis of different influences from classical, jazz and folk music. He is considered one of the first modern composers to turn to the avant-garde and was an important figure in the development of the Second Viennese School.

His musical education began early: thanks to a recommendation from Antonin Dvorak, he began lessons at the Prague Conservatory at the age of 10. Schulhoff's career was shaped by the political turmoil of the first half of the 20th century. In 1918 he left Prague and settled in Germany, where he came into contact with the works of Arnold Schoenberg and other representatives of the Second Viennese School. He was also influenced by the works of Igor Stravinsky and the growing jazz scene in Germany. He composed numerous works for orchestra, chamber music and solo piano pieces.

Erwin Schulhoff's compositional style was a mixture of classical, jazz and folk music, creating a new, unique sound that was both modern and accessible to a wide audience. He often used techniques such as polytonality and polyrhythms in his works, as well as jazz rhythms and harmonies. He also incorporated elements of the folk music of his native Czech Republic into his compositions, such as polkas and waltzes.

Schulhoff's career was abruptly interrupted by the spread of National Socialism in Germany. Since the early 1930s he had been interested in socialism and planned to emigrate to the Soviet Union. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union, he was arrested in 1941 and deported as a political prisoner to Wülzburg, where he died of tuberculosis in 1942. His works were largely forgotten until his music was rediscovered in the 1980s.

Today, Erwin Schulhoff is known as a groundbreaking composer and pioneer who tried to bridge the gap between classical and popular music. His unique blend of styles continues to shape music today and influences contemporary composers. At the same time, his works are regularly performed on the world's major concert stages and continue to delight audiences.

Erwin Schulhoff's Hot Sonata is on the program of the JCOM concert Jewish Jazz on February 7, 2023.

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