Back to index
Pocock, Peter G.

The Choral Music of Hugo Wolf:
A discussion of the musical and textual relationships with performance editions for male chorus

D.M.A. University of Southern California, 1996

The purpose of the study is twofold:

1. To ascertain whether or not Hugo Wolf is consistent in his application of selected compositional techniques (as outlined by Eric Sams) from his songs to his choral music.

2. To increase the body of readily accessible choral literature for male chorus through choral arrangements of selected songs and choral works of Hugo Wolf.

As Hugo Wolf's compositional style matured, he developed and adapted a series of motifs which are evident throughout his songs. In The Songs of Hugo Wolf Eric Sams identifies more than forty of these motifs. They reveal strong associations with various keys, and with rhythmic and melodic motifs which express light, pathos, sorrow, freedom, contentment, singing, adoration, worship, submission, and much more.

From a musicological perspective, it would seem that Sams' observations are somewhat subjective. If indeed he is correct, then it is logical to expect that these techniques will be found in other compositions of Wolf.

This study is, therefore, of considerable importance in verifying whether or not these song motifs are present within Wolf's choral music. Wolf's early compositions for male chorus and his choral/orchestral work Christnacht give evidence that he had a keen interest in the male chorus "sound." The middle to late nineteenth century saw the emergence of the male chorus movement as an integral part of the European, English and Welsh musical life. In the United States also, the male chorus became a strong musical force, in particular the present-day barbershop chorus and the college glee club. The repertoire of the "traditional" male chorus, however, particularly interests this writer. Although this repertoire consists of many genres, the "classical music" available to the male chorus is still limited.

Working from the transcriptions of the Complete Works of Hugo Wolf and from copies of the original manuscripts, the writer has edited and arranged (for male chorus and soloist, where applicable) eleven settings of selected choral pieces and three settings of songs.

Where necessary, the key signatures and clefs have been adapted for the male vocal range, and text underlay is provided for all parts to allow for choral performance. A summary of the original key signatures and clefs is given.