Ernst von Dohnányi, classical music composer

Ernst von Dohnányi image

Ernst von Dohnányi

Biography

A prominent pianist, conductor and composer, Ernst von Dohnányi established himself as one of the leading figures of Hungarian music during the 20th century. Born in Pozsony (modern day Bratislava) on July 27, 1877, Dohnányi received his early and rudimentary musical instruction from his father, a professor of mathematics and amateur cellist. Later he enrolled in the Budapest Academy of Music studying piano and composition, and where he was also classmates with Béla Bartók. His first concerts as a pianist, in Berlin and London, garnered immediate praise and he was instantly recognized as an artist of high caliber. This success as a pianist coincided also with his growing reputation as a composer. His Piano Quintet in C minor earned the approval of Johannes Brahms who arranged for the work's premiere in Vienna.

At the invitation of Joseph Joachim, Dohnányi taught at the Hochschule in Berlin from 1905 to 1915. In 1919, he returned to the Budapest Academy as its newly appointed director. His tenure, however, was short-lived and he was ousted later in the year by Hungary's new fascist government. Taking the directorship of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, he took an active role in promoting the music of fellow Hungarian composers Béla Bártok and Zoltán Kodály. In 1934, he returned to his post as director of the Budapest Academy. However, growing tensions between Dohnányi and Hungary's fascist government led to his resignation in 1941. Refusing to comply with the government's anti-Semitic policies, Dohnányi resigned from his post as director. Furthermore, he entirely disbanded the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra to prevent having to fire any of his musicians on religious or racial grounds. He remained in Hungary during the Second World War using his influence to help protect Jewish musicians. After the close of the war and the establishment of Hungary's new communist government, Dohnányi left his homeland for the United States.

In the U.S., Dohnányi was unable to completely revive his career as a concert pianist, though he did continue to compose and conduct. In 1949, he accepted a faculty position at Florida State University which he held until his death in 1960. He gave his final public performance on January 30, 1960 conducting Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto. A little over a month later, on February 9, he died in New York City of pneumonia.


Composer Title Date Action
Ernst von Dohnányi Symphonic Minutes (Rondo: Presto) 08/12/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernst von Dohnányi Capriccio, op. 28 no. 6 in f minor 10/20/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernst von Dohnányi Serenade in C Major, Op. 10 02/07/2012 Play Add to playlist
Ernst von Dohnányi Rhapsody in C Major Op.11 No.3 07/19/2012 Play