Stephan, Rudi


Stephan, Rudi

Liebeszauber (Love’s Spell) Ballad for Baritone and Orchestra

SKU: 1666 Category:



Rudi Stephan – ‚Liebeszauber‘ (Love’s Spell)

(b. Worms, 29 July 1887 — d. near Tarnopol in Eastern Galicia [today Ternopil, Western Ukraine], 29 September 1915)

Ballad for Baritone and Orchestra on a poem by Friedrich Hebbel (1813-63)
(definitive second version of 1914)

When the 28-year-old soldier Rudi Stephan was killed in action in present-day Ukrainian Galicia on 29 September 1915, after only two weeks on the front, German music lost one of its great white hopes. Stephan received his basic musical training from Karl Kiebitz (1843-1927), music director in Worms, who, to quote the composer, “was the first seriously to introduce me to music and particularly to Beethoven’s spiritual universe.” Being interested in other things, he was a poor student at high school. In 1905-6 he studied privately in Frankfurt am Main with the progressive teacher and composer Bernhard Sekles (1872-1934), whose pupils would later include Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), Ottmar Gerster (1897-1969), Hans Rosbaud (1895-1962) and Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno (1903-69). Although Stephan put great store in Sekles, he moved to Munich in 1906 to study with the theorist and critic Rudolf Louis (1870-1914), a friend of Strauss and Pfitzner and an eloquent champion of the “Munich School” associated with Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907). Louis cut a poor figure as a composer, and his best-known pupil apart from Stephan was Ernst Boehe (1880-1938). However, as Juliane Brand points out in her standard study Rudi Stephan (in the series Komponisten in Bayern, Tutzing, 1983), from which most of the information in this preface has been taken, Stephan insisted in his autobiographical sketch that he learned harmony and piano from Sekles, but counterpoint and fugue from Louis. In short, from neither did he learn composition; and his posthumous estate, which was destroyed by the accidental detonation of a firebomb in 1945, one day after the devastating air raid on Worms, is said to have had no compositional exercises of any significance.

Among the fellow-composers of his generation Stephan maintained closest contact with Heinz Tiessen (1887-1971), to whom he dedicated his lied Im Einschlafen. Tiessen, one of the most distinguished of German expressionist composers, recalled their friendship in his Wege eines Komponisten (Berlin, 1962): “I must record yet another memory from my days on the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung. After the première of Rudi Stephan’s Music for Orchestra [Stephan’s second and definitive composition by this title, which superseded the first version that has been reprinted in 2003 as Study Score No. 162 in the Repertoire Explorer series] at the Jena Music Festival in 1913, I put the thumbscrews on Herr Schwers to hold the evening’s lecture and wrote a perfectly elated review. A lengthy exchange of letters ensued between Stephan and myself, and he made me the dedicatee of a lied that I consider the most beautiful he ever wrote.” In his ground-breaking study on modern music, Zur Geschichte der jüngsten Musik (1913-28): Probleme und Entwicklungen (vol. 2 in Melosbücherei, Mainz, 1928), Tiessen wrote the following words under the heading of “Rejection of the Literary” (Abkehr vom Literarischen): “The titles that Rudi Stephan gave to his works at the festivals of 1912 and 1913 — Music for Seven String Instruments and Music for Orchestra — had about them the ring of an adamant volte-face from program music. But more important than the title was the new, fresh, taught energy of the music itself in the latter piece, which, pace Delius and Reger, far outstripped all the other works in the festival’s program.”…

Complete preface / Ganzes Vorwort > HERE

Score Data


Repertoire Explorer


Choir/Voice & Orchestra




225 x 320 mm



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