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Die stille Stadt Op. 4 no.1

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Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868 -1941), also called Müller-Martini, was an Austrian composer who studied with Guido Adler and Zemlinsky. Although she received a good musical education, in keeping with her comfortably middle-class background, she was not allowed to progress but was trained as a teacher. Her marriage in 1893 to the Verkehrsfachmanns Otto Müller-Martini freed her to concentrate again on her music, studying piano, violin, theory and composition.

Her work was performed at Vienna’s Musikverein and in evenings dedicated to women composers. In 1918, she was appointed Professor of Music Theory at the New Vienna Konservatorium. Much of her music was published by Universal Edition. Müller-Hermann left a substantial number of works ranging from songs to orchestral works. A few of these have been recorded since the 1990s.

Her early string quartet in E-flat major, Op. 6, reveals her ease with a harmony-driven architecture, alongside a deep sense of lyricism. At present, there is no complete catalogue of her works and she is missing from some major encyclopaedias. The best resource is the website Unsung Composers.

Müller-Hermann’s songs deserve to be better known. They include Op. 1 Sieben Lieder (1904), Op. 2 Fünf Lieder, Op. 4 Vier Lieder. Her Op. 11 is two settings of Goethe, published in 1939. She also wrote two duets, Op. 15. Her Eight Songs Op. 18 exists in a version for piano (1915) and orchestra (1916).

She set much contemporary poetry, including many by the great historian and writer Ricarda Huch, who was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize (see her Op. 19).

- Three songs Op.19 /1. Sehnsucht. 2. Liebesreim. 3. Geheimnis. voice, piano). words: Ricarda Huch. Vienna, UE 1940.

- Autumn songs Op.28 /1. Herbstabend. 2. Minnelied. 3. Intermezzo. 4. Regenlied. 5. In memoriam. words: J.A. Rinaldini. pub. by UE

- Three songs Op.32 /1. Am Strand. 2. Du schlank und rein. 3. Im Traum und Gesang. (High voice, piano). words: St. George, R.A. Schröder. pub. by UE 1939.

- Three songs Op.33 /1. Vorfrühling. 2. Trauminsel. 3. Liebeshymnus). Soprano, orchestra/ piano.words: Tona v. Hermann. pub. by UE 1939.

- Five Zwiegesänge duets  ‘Beatrix und der Sänger’ Op.36 /1. Begegnung. 2. Verstehen. 3. Geständnis. 4. Vision. 5. Abschied. (Soprano, baritone, string quintet, harp). words: W. Calé.1936

© Natasha Loges, 2022

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'Die stille Stadt' performed by James Atkinson and Anna Tilbrook as part of a 'Forgotten Voices' lecture-recital. This series was curated by Natasha Loges and Kitty Whately and presented at the Oxford Lieder Spring Song Festival 2022.

Filmed by TallWall Media.

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