Universal Edition - Walter Braunfels

Walter Braunfels

Walter Braunfels

The Composer

Walter Braunfels was born on 19 December 1882 in Frankfurt am Main. He was the youngest child of the lawyer and writer Louis (Lazarus) Braunfels (1810–1883) and his second wife, Helene, née Spohr, his junior by 32 years.

After completing school education and musical training at the Dr. Hoch Conservatory – into which he was accepted as early as 1895 – he began in 1901 to study economics in Munich and Kiel. Deciding however to dedicate himself to music, he moved to Vienna for a year in 1902 to perfect his piano skills with Theodor Leschetitsky and to study music theory with Karl Nawratil.

From 1903 he lived in Munich where he studied composition with Ludwig Thuille. Here he met the ...


About the Music

Walter Braunfels described his opera The Birds as “a lyrical, fantastical game”. Based on Aristophanes, the opera became a triumph after its Munich premiere in 1920. For Bruno Walter it was “one of the most interesting new works” of his time in Munich, and the critic Alfred Einstein, who compared the opera with Wagner’s Meistersinger [The Mastersingers] and Pfitzner’s Palestrina, saw it as “a work of yearning for the pure realm of fantasy, art, poetry, and at once a fulfilment of this yearning, a leap into a world beyond time and bias”.

Braunfels began his opera in 1913. He completed it after the shocking experiences of the First World War, which changed his perspective ...


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