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Emil Nikolaus [Freiherr] von Reznicek (4 May 1860 in Vienna, died 2 August 1945 in Berlin) was an Austrian late Romantic composer of Czech ancestry.



Reznicek studied law and music simultaneously in Graz. He didn't finish his law degree, but continued to study music. Subsequently, he conducted at the theater in Graz, in Berlin and a few other places. From 1886 to 1894 he was Kapellmeister of the 88th Infantry of Prague, and it was here that he saw his greatest triumph with the premiere of Donna Diana (December 16, 1894). In the spring of 1902 he settled in Berlin, touring to Russia and England from time to time. When the Nazi party came to power in 1933, Reznicek tried not to become involved, but stayed in Berlin.

Reznicek was a personal friend of Richard Strauss. However, the relation between the two seems to have been an ambivalent one. Reznicek's symphonic poem Schlemihl (1912) can be seen as a direct parody of Strauss' Ein Heldenleben. The use of (often sarcastic) humor is a feature of much of Reznicek's music, from the jibbering Blaubart in the opera Ritter Blaubart through the sardonic Dance around the Golden Calf from Der Sieger (1913) to the expressionist Tarantella last movement of his Dance Symphony (#5, 1925). This Eulenspiegelei (a reference to the literary prankster Till Eulenspiegel) frequently got him into trouble in a world that was unaccustomed to the use of humour in music and art.

Ferdinand von Reznicek was his half-brother.


Today, Reznicek is remembered mainly for the overture to his opera Donna Diana, composed in 1894. The overture is a popular stand-alone piece at symphony concerts and also served as the theme for the American radio (1947-1955) series Challenge of the Yukon, which later migrated to the TV series (1955-1958) Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. It was also used in the 1950s on the BBC's Children's Hour by Stephen King-Hall for his talks on current affairs.

The German label CPO has started a project to record all of Reznicek's orchestral output. In this series, the symphonic poems Der Sieger (1913) and Schemihl (1912), along with a number of symphonies (#2 "Ironische" and #5 "Tanzsinfonie") and the overture Raskolnikoff (1931) have already been released (November, 2006).Symphony #1 in D minor "Tragic", was released by CPO in 2008.

Reznicek's works include orchestral works (five symphonies, suites, serenades, overtures), a violin concerto (1922), operas (Till Eulenspiegel (1902), Ritter Blaubart - A Fairy-Tale Opera in Three Acts (composed 1915-1917 and recorded by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2002), Spiel oder Ernst (1930)), chamber music (the first of his four string quartets (composed in 1921) received its world premiere recording from the Franz Schubert Quartet of Vienna in 1996).




  • Symphony No. 1, "Tragic" in D major (composed 1901)
  • Symphony No. 2, "Ironic" in B flat (composed 1904)
  • Symphony No. 3, "Im alten Stil" in D major (composed 1918)
  • Symphony No. 4 in F minor (composed 1919)
  • Symphony No. 5, "Tanz-Symphonie" (composed 1924)

Orchestral and vocal works

  • Hexenszene aus Macbeth (composed 1877)
  • Symphonische Suite in E major (composed 1883)
  • Probszt-Marsch für Militärmusik (composed 1892)
  • Eine Lustspielouvertüre (composed 1895)
  • Symphonische Suite in D major (composed 1896)
  • Wie Till Eulenspiegel lebte, Overture (composed 1900)
  • Frühlings-ouvertüre (composed 1903)
  • Nachtstück for cello and orchestra (composed 1903)
  • Serenade for Strings No. 1 in G major (composed 1905)
  • Orchesterfuge (composed 1906)
  • Introduktion und Valse Caprice for violin and orchestra (composed 1906)
  • Prelude and Fugue (composed 1912)
  • Schlemihl (ein Symphonisches Lebensbild) for tenor and orchestra (composed 1912)
  • Traumspiel-Suite based on incidental music for Strindberg's play (composed 1915)
  • Nach Damaskus III incidental music for Strindberg's play (composed 1916)
  • Konzertstück for violin and orchestra (composed 1918)
  • Violin Concerto (composed 1918)
  • Serenade for Strings No. 2 in G major (composed 1920)
  • Thema und Variationen nach Chamissos Tragische Geschichte for baritone and orchestra (composed 1921)
  • Die wunderliche Geschichte des Kapellmeisters Kreisler, incidental music to the play by Meinhard and Bernauer (composed 1922)
  • Raskolnikoff, Overture-fantasy No. 1 (composed 1925; lost)
  • Festouvertüre, "Dem befreiten Köln" (composed 1926)
  • Polizei, incidental music to the play by Eulenberg (composed 1926)
  • Symfonische Variationen über das "Kol Nidrei" (composed 1929)
  • Raskolnikoff, Overture-fantasy No. 2 (composed 1929)
  • Raskolnikoff, Overture-fantasy No. 3 (composed 1930; lost)
  • Goldpirol-Ouvertüre, "Im deutschen Wald" (composed 1930)
  • Valse Pathétique (composed 1931)

Stage Works

  • Die Jungfrau von Orleans, opera in 3 acts after Friedrich Schiller (composed 1886)
  • Satanella, opera in 2 acts on a libretto by Reznicek (composed 1887)
  • Emerich Fortunat, opera in 2 acts on a libretto by Reznicek (composed 1888)
  • Donna Diana, opera in 3 acts after Agustín Moreto's El desdén con el desdén (composed 1894, revised 1933)
  • Till Eulenspiegel, opera in 2 acts after Johann Fischart's Eulenspiegel Reimensweiss (composed 1900, revised 1939)
  • Die verlorene Braut, operetta (composed 1910)
  • Die Angst vor der Ehe, operetta after Taufstein and Urban (composed 1913)
  • Ritter Blaubart, opera in 2 acts on a libretto by H. Eulenberg (composed 1917)
  • Holofernes, opera in 2 acts after Friedrich Hebbel's Judith und Holofernes (composed 1922)
  • Satuala, opera in 4 acts on a libretto by R. Laukner (composed 1927)
  • Benzin, opera in 2 acts on a libretto by Calderón de la Barca (composed 1929)
  • Spiel oder Ernst?, opera in 1 act on a libretto by Peter Knudsen (composed 1930)
  • Der Gondoliere des Dogen, opera in 1 act on a libretto by Peter Knudsen (composed 1931)
  • Das Opfer, opera in 1 act on a libretto by Peter Knudsen (composed 1932)
  • Das goldene Kalb, ballet (composed 1935)

Chamber Music

  • String Quartet in C minor (composed 1882)
  • Nachtstück for piano, violin and cello (composed 1905)
  • String Quartet in C minor (composed 1906, revised 1921)
  • String Quartet in D minor (composed 1922)
  • Für unseren Kleinen for piano, violin and cello (composed 1921)
  • Kol Nidrey, Vorspiel zu "Holofernes:, for piano, violin and cello (composed 1926)
  • String Quartet in D minor (composed 1928)
  • String Quartet in E major (composed 1932)
  • Walzerlied for piano trio (composed 1932)


  • Die Gedanken des Selbstmörders for piano (composed 1880)
  • Vier Klavierstücke (composed 1882)
  • Grünnemarsch (composed 1890)
  • Eine Lustspiel-Ouvertüre, reduction for four-hands piano (composed 1895)
  • Zwei Phantasie-Stücke (composed 1896)
  • Traumspiel-Suite, reduction for piano (composed 1921)
  • Ernster Walzer (composed 1924)
  • Valse Pathétique (composed 1924, orchestrated 1924)
  • Vier sinfonische Tänze, piano reduction of Symphony No. 5 (composed 1924)
  • Menuett, piano reduction from the opera Polizei (composed 1926)
  • Liebeserklärung (composed 1943)


  • Präludium und chromatische Fuge in C minor (composed 1912)
  • Präludium und Fuge in C minor (composed 1918)
  • Fantasie "Kommt Menschenkinder, rühmt und priest" (composed 1930)

Selected discography

Symphony No1 in D minor, "Tragic",CPO 777223-2.

  • Symphony No. 2 ("Ironische"); and No. 5 ("Tanz-Symphonie"). Performed by the Bern Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frank Beermann (CPO 777 056-2)

Symphony No3 in D major, Symphony No4 in F minor, was released by Schwann CD11091. (1984-85)

  • Der Sieger (The Victor) for alto and orchestra. Performed by Beate Koepp (alto) and the WDR Symphony Orchestra and Choir (Cologne) conducted by Michail Jurowski (CPO 999 898-2).
  • Schlemihl, Symphonisches Lebensbild für Tenor & Orchester; Raskolnikoff (Schuld und Sühne), eine Phantasie-Ouvertüre. Performed by Nobuaki Yamamasu (tenor) and the WDR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michail Jurowski (CPO 999 795-2).
  • Donna Diana (opera, 1894). Performed by Max Wittges (bass), Manuela Uhl (soprano) and others, Kiel Opera Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ulrich Windfuhr (CPO 999 991-2).
  • Ritter Blaubart (opera, 1918). Performed by David Pittman-Jennings (baritone), Arutjun Kotchinian (tenor) and others, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Michail Jurowski (CPO 999 899-2).
  • String Quartet No. 1 in C sharp minor. Performed by the Franz Schubert String Quartet (Combined with Erich Wolfgang Korngold's String Quartet No. 1 in A major, Op. 16)(Nimbus 5506-2).

External links


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