ERNST TOCH (1887 - 1964)
Ernst Toch was born into a Jewish family that had settled in Vienna, where he studied with Stocker and Fuchs at the Philharmonic Conservatory, and then at Vienna University. A scholarship brought study at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, followed by a career that established him as one of the leading composers in Germany. Invited as a distinguished guest to the Florence Maggio Musicale in 1933, he never returned to Germany; he moved to London, and then, at first on Bruno Walter’s invitation, to New York. He spent the rest of his life in America, where he held various teaching positions but was never able to regain his former eminence.
Toch set poems from Bethge’s Die chinesische Flöte, which had provided texts for Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. His Cantata of the Bitter Herbs of 1938 is based on the narrative of Passover.
Toch’s orchestral music includes seven symphonies, a Piano Concerto and a Cello Concerto. His chamber music includes 13 string quartets. In America, like many of his exiled compatriots, he wrote music for films, a task he was able to relinquish after 1945.