Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Hugo Wolf is one of the few composers who have devoted their entire genius to practically a single form: with the exception of a symphonic poem, an opera and a few instrumental works, his entire Oeuvre consists of songs, and the title of a master of this genre can only be from Schubert be disputed. At the age of 15, the composer began studying at the Vienna Conservatory (where he made friends with Mahler), but was de-registered after two years due to (unjustified) accusations. An encounter with Wagner had a decisive influence on his compositional work, but also on his work as a sharp-tongued music critic (1884–87), during which he sided with the Bayreuth master (and against his “rival” Brahms). Wolf's songs were created in intensive creative phases, whereby he focused on a specific poet (Eichendorff, Mörike, Goethe) or a specific collection of texts (Spanish and Italian songbooks). The art song expert Eric Sams acknowledged his achievement with the following words: “His visionary power found its limit in his concentration on the points where music and words meet or correspond. But within this defined range of poetry it can not only be described as great, but also as absolutely superior. "