ERMANNO WOLF-FERRARI (1876 - 1948)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, born on 12 January 1876, the son of a German painter and his Italian wife, was throughout his life divided between the two cultures, uniting in himself the deep-felt seriousness of the German and the cheerful calmness of the Italian, bel canto and counterpoint, philosophy and grace. He spent his life between Munich and Venice, in Germany longing for Italy and vice versa. This geographical division was also the foundation of his creative existence. It was very early in his life that Wolf-Ferrari enjoyed great cultural success, winning international fame with his choral work La vita nuova and the opera Le donne curiose. Already at the age of nineteen he was appointed choral director in Milan and at 27 he became, for his life-time, director of the Liceo Benedetto Marcello in Venice. After six years he ended his contract to settle in Munich, where he lived and worked for the next 35 years, in complete seclusion, seldom yielding to the light of publicity. The first World War brought about a great crisis in his life, resulting in a creative break of several years. After that came a new impulse to compose and Wolf-Ferrari produced one masterpiece after another. In 1939 he accepted appointment to the Salzburg Mozarteum. His last years were clouded by the second World War and its consequences. Suffering from heart disease, he dedicated himself strongly again to his old love, chamber music. He died of a heart attack in Venice on 21 January 1948.
The compositions left by Wolf-Ferrari include oratorios, choral and orchestral works, chamber music and songs, thirteen operas, three serious (I gioielli della Madonna, Das Himmelskleid and Sly) and ten comic, of which Le donne curiose and I quattro rusteghi are the best known, the most successful and most often staged. Of all his operas Wolf-Ferrari loved most his fairy-tale opera Das Himmelskleid.