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Hermann Hans Wetzler (Composer, Arranger)

Born: September 8, 1870 - Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: May 29, 1943, New York, NY, USA

The German-American composer, organist, and conductor, Hermann (Hans) Wetzler, was born in Frankfurt am Main of American parents. His father came from Bohemia, and his mother was German. He was taken to the USA as a child. He grew up in Chicago in affluent backgrounds and only studied in Cincinnati. In 1882 he returned to Germany, where he studied from 1885 to 1892 at the. Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main with Clara Schumann (piano), Iwan Knorr (counterpoint), Engelbert Humperdinck (instrumentation), Hugo Heermann (violin), and Bernhard Scholz..

In 1892 Hermann Wetzler went to New York, where he was organist at Old Trinity Church from 1897 to 1901, and also as violist, conductor and piano teacher. In 1902 he organized orchestral concerts at Carnegie Hall, and in 1903 he established with donations the WetzIer Symphony Concerts, which had considerable success; Richard Strauss conduded a series of 4 concerts of his own works with the Wetzler group (February-March, 1904), including the premiere of the Sinfonia domestica. In 1905 he returned to Germany to work as an opera conductor at the theaters of Hamburg, Elberfeld, Riga, Halle, Lübeck and Cologne, and also conducted in various cities throughout Europe.

After the last engagement was not renewed in 1923, Hermann Wetzler lived as a freelance composer and conductor in Cologne. In 1929 he moved to Brissago Being of Jewish origins, he had to flee after the Nazi seizure of power in Germany, and in 1932 moved to Switzerland, first in Basel, where he gave lectures in 1933, and later in Ascona. After the break of World War II, he left Switzerland in 1940 and had settled in New York, where he died on May 29, 1943.

From 1917 Hermann Wetzler wrote his major works for orchestra and finally, the opera Die baskische Venus from a text book of his wife Lini Wetzler born Dienstbach (1876-1933). He published Wege zur Musik (Leipzig, 1938). His estate is located since 2006 in the Central Library of Zürich and, in addition to music manuscripts and writings about 10,000 letters, 6000 reviews and photographs.


Die baskische Venus, Op. 14 (Leipzig, November 18, 1928); the Symphonic Dance in the Basque Style was extracted from this score as a concert piece)

Incidental Music to:
Shakespeare's As You Like It, Op. 7 (1917)

Symphonic Fantasy for orchestra, Op. 10 (1922)
Visionen, Op. 12 (1922 or 1923)
Assisi, legend for orchestra, Op 13 (1924 or 1925)
Symphonie concertante for violin and orchestra (1932)

Chamber music, including a String Quartet (1937)
much vocal music, including a Magnificat for soprano, boys. or women's chorus, and organ (1936)
choruses, and songs

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); German Wikipedia Website & Zentralbibliothek Zürich Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (October 2009)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2009)

Hermann Hans Wetzler: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Hermann (Hans) Wetzler: Information (
Hermann Hans Wetzler (Wikipedia) [German]

Nachlassverzeichnis Hermann Wetzler (Zentralbibliothek Zürich)


Hugo Riemann: Hugo Riemanns Musik-Lexikon, 11. Ausg. (Berlin 1929)
Stanley Sadie (editor): The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, 2. Ausg. (New York 2000)

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