The Swiss composer, pianist and conductor, Hans Jelmoli, was born into the family of rich and renowned family of the Jelmolis, founders of Switzerland's most famous department store, a firm which is still in business today but began his musical career at the early age of eleven with a number of song with piano accompaniment. After his studies at the Hoch Conservatory of Frankfurt am Main, where Engelbert Humperdinck and Iwan Knorr were his most famous teachers (composition) and the piano under Ernst Engesser.
From 1898 until 1899 Hans Jelmoli was third conductor at the Stadttheater in Mainz and from 1899 until 1900 second Kapellmeister and chorus-master at the Stadttheater in Würzburg. After these experiences in Germany he returned to his native city in the twenties, where he worked as music critic, teacher of composition and pianist, and in his free time he wrote musical dramas, piano pieces and songs. His excellent reputation as a concert soloist, chamber musician and vocal accompanist led to many concerts both in Switzerland and internationally.
Hans Jelmoli wrote a considerable number of works for the stage. Scores of incidental music to Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, to Diderot's Est-il bon? Est-il méchant? and to Georg Büchner's Leonce und Lena and for patriotic plays such as Marignano and for the fairy-tale play Prinz Goldhaar und die Gänsehirtin. His vocal works for the stage include Aphrodite, a Hellenic festival play, the musical comedies Sein Vernmächtnis and Aufschwankem Pfad, and several patriotic musical plays based on legends or historical events from his native town. Jelmoli's instrumental works include suites and separate pieces from his stage works, extracted either for orchestra or for chamber ensembles. Among his chamber works are piano pieces, one sonata each for piano, violin and cello, a piano trio and a string quintet. Jelmoli also composed numerous songs and vocal cycles with piano or organ.
Jelmoli often used Swiss folk material in his compositions; in the selected songs there are many pearls of the dialect lyrics by Isabelle Kaiser, Hermann Löns and C. F. Meyer, such as the melancholic verse-song Häiweh (Ernst Eschmann) and the Liedli based on a very rare dialect poem of Karl Stamm (1890 - 1919) who in Der Aufbruch des Herzens (1919) developed his own expressionistic language, which is highly opposite to his own late romantic sound world.
In his own time Jelmoli's choral pieces were his most frequently performed compositions. Among his arrangements we find a transcription for small orchestra of Mozart's Adagio for pianoforte, KV 540, and the left-hand adaptation of the minuet from Schubert's Piano Sonata, D 894. Among his orchestral works are Three Pieces for Orchestra from the Lyrical Comedy His Legacy and Reigen (Round Dance, in G major) with the subtitle Ballet music (reminiscent of Tchaikovsky) but with obvious local folk inspiration, with pastoral calls for solo winds framing a leisurely minuet in the style of a Ländler orchestrated for double woodwind, two horns and two trumpets, timpani, triangle, harp and strings.