Joseph Marx

Meister des romantischen

Joseph Marx (18 kB)
Unterschrift (1 kB)

Visit the official website
of the Joseph Marx Society:

»There is no composer better served on the internet.« (Michael J. A. Brough)

Last update
English Main Page 23.01.2020
Biography & Personality 24.04.2007
The adventure begins... 24.04.2007
In quest of the legendary Autumn Symphony 24.04.2007
The Complete List of Works 10.02.2013
New! Recording Projects & Concert Listing 31.08.2014
Audio samples (orchestral music & interviews) 23.01.2020
Joseph Marx and the Third Reich 24.04.2007
Discography (69 CDs), reviews & non-profit links to CD stores 24.02.2019
Bibliography 23.01.2020
Many useful links 24.04.2007
Acknowledgements 27.03.2020
Contact me

View the entire website on one HUGE page 27.03.2020
Download website as a PDF file (4 MB) 25.12.2008
Gallery (current number of images: 61) 24.04.2007
In the footsteps of Marx: Travelogue of a memorable journey 24.04.2007


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"The genuine work of art is as organic as a tree developing out of a seed, growing, blooming; its splendour is natural yet intangible, a thousand fragments joining, and yet of unimaginable beauty beyond description..." (Joseph Marx)

"How could such a major composer fall into oblivion?"

(Riccardo Chailly, conductor)

"Joseph Marx is the leading force of Austrian music."

(Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor, in 1952)

Joseph Marx's life briefly:

  • 1909: Graduated as Doctor of Philosophy at Graz University and published prize-winning dissertations on the psychological fundamentals of tonality and harmony
  • 1906-12: Composed approx. 150 songs, many of which were performed by the greatest divas and singers of the 20th century
  • 1911-46: Composed a huge number of orchestral and choral works that were premiered and conducted by the Maestros of his era (Ferdinand Löwe, Clemens Krauss, Arthur Nikisch, Fritz Reiner, Karl Etti, Robert Heger, Karl Böhm and others)
  • 1914-52: Professor of music theory, harmony, counterpoint and composition at Vienna University
  • 1922-24: Chief of the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts in succession to Ferdinand Löwe
  • 1924-27: Rector of Austria's first University of Music in Vienna (founded by himself)
  • 1947-52: Professor of musicology at Graz University
  • Having had more than 1,255 students (in Vienna alone), he was one of the most active and most influential music teachers of the 20th century (similar to Nadia Boulanger)
  • 1932-33: First advisor to the Turkish government on the modern re-organization of the Turkish conservatory and concert system
  • Over almost two decades he represented Austria as a jury member in international competitions of composition
  • Over almost three decades he was one of Austria's most influential essayists and critics (working for Vienna's leading newspapers and music magazines)
  • During the last two decades of his life, he was president of the leading institutions of Austrian musical life such as Association of Austrian Composers, Mozart Society, AKM, Society for the Publication of Monuments of Music, Association of the Music Teachers of Austria, Association of the Critics of Vienna and many others
  • Winner of the Great Silver Decoration of the Republic of Austria (1928)
  • Winner of the Great Austrian Price of State (1950), the highest price that can be awarded to a composer in Austria (Marx was the first winner of this price)
  • Winner of the Vienna Music Price (1952)
  • Winner of the Great Decoration of Science and Arts (1957)
  • Honorary President of the "Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et Compositeurs" (1960)
  • Honorary President of the Association of Styrian Musicians
  • Name-giver (1947) to the "Joseph Marx Music Price of Styria"
  • Honorary member of the Academy of Sciences
  • Member of the Austrian UNESCO commission
  • Honorary citizenship and honorary ring of the cities of Vienna and Graz
  • Honorary member of the Vienna Konzerthaus Society
  • Honorary member of the "Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde" and "Musikverein für Steiermark" and honorary doctor of the Universities of Music and Performing Arts of Vienna and Graz

Joseph Rupert Rudolf Marx (sometimes incorrectly spelled Josef Marx) was born 11 May 1882 in Graz/Austria. He first studied music with his mother, then was Joseph Marx 1887 (25 kB) educated at Johann Buwa's piano school where - among many others - Hugo Wolf had also been a student. There he was also taught to play the violin and meanwhile autodidactically learned the cello too. His first exercises in composition date from his time at secondary school when he began to arrange pieces for trio or quartet from existing themes. In the meantime he had also become a member of the piano school's ensemble as a piano accompanist. His parents forbade him to play the piano but he found other ways to realise his love for music. It was at this time that he began to compose his first piano pieces and to perform them with the ensemble of his music school. Before having finished secondary school he planned (or pretended?) to become a watchmaker while he was thinking of starting an education in photography, but then he turned back to secondary school and finally finished his studies. At Graz University he attended courses in philosophy and art history after having followed for only one year his father's wish that he should read law. This decision produced a break between him and his family. Nevertheless, his strong interest in music made him continue to compose at the age of 26 so that within only four years (1908-12) he wrote around 120 songs. His name became known in Vienna, where in 1914 he was offered the post of professor of theory at the music academy. Joseph Marx 1912 (29 kB) In 1922 he became director of the academy, and he was rector (1924-27) when the institution was reorganized as a Hochschule fur Musik. He then acted as adviser to the Turkish government in laying the foundations of a conservatory in Ankara (1932-33). From 1931 to 1938 he was music critic for the Neues Wiener Journal and after World War 2 he worked in the same capacity for the Wiener Zeitung; during World War 2 Marx was the most frequently performed composer in Austria which becomes apparent in the fact that he has later been president, chairman or honorary member of many important Austrian music associations and societies over two decades until he died 3 Sept 1964 in Graz at the age of 82. During his 43 years as a teaching professor in composition, harmony and counterpoint Marx had 1255 students from all over the world many of which later achieved national and worldwide fame as composers, conductors, soloists, musicologists etc. As Marx enjoyed great popularity and much respect during his lifetime, there is no question that he had an immense impact on at least two generations of musicians in the 20th century.


Click here to view a more detailed biography that I wrote for a small music publisher

Interesting personal details about Joseph Marx

Joseph Marx - Piano (46 kB) Joseph Marx was a tall and rather strongly built man. He was considered an excellent pianist who used to accompany his own compositions on the piano with often quite demanding piano parts until old age, electrifying critics and audience alike. His students, acquaintances and colleagues described him as an out-and-out individualist and, at the same time, as an open and frank man with a philosophical background and a subtle sense of humour. He was always described as witty and eloquent and as someone who knew how to express his thoughts brilliantly. That is why his lessons were given in a stimulating and humorous atmosphere where he sometimes told anecdotes about his encounters with many renowned composers whom he knew or had known Joseph Marx 1932 - 2 (22 kB) personally (for example Puccini, Szymanowsky, Franz Schmidt). The course of his lessons was characterized by improvisation: The students were not allowed to take notes in order to develop an intuitive over a mechanical understanding and practical application. He used to further the talents of his students in an almost imperceptible way and corrected them only if they committed technical mistakes. It is also known that Marx gave private lessons to many of his students in need of additional support, even in his spare time and without demanding any fee. Despite his very critical attitude towards the atonal avant-garde he also praised compositions of young modernists provided that they could be assigned at least to some extent to tonal music. He was respected by students and colleagues alike, even by those advocating a very different musical style. In this context it may be noted that many of his students coming from different parts of the globe later achieved national and worldwide fame in their respective musical line. The fact that the total estate of letters to Marx consisted of 14589 pieces from 3420 correspondents (!), including a host of well-known persons, should be a clear indication of the popularity and the renown of Joseph Marx who due to several unfortunate circumstances fell into oblivion after his death.

Compositional style
Joseph Marx 1930 (16 kB) The unique "Marx sound" reminds the listener of Debussy, Scriabin, Delius, Ravel, Respighi, J. Jongen, Vladigerov, Reger, Schreker, R. Strauss, Korngold, Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner but is in the end totally his own. Regarding his Lieder for which he became famous (these were mainly composed before he was 30 years of age) he is said to be the rightful successor to Hugo Wolf. The southern atmosphere in many of his works has its origin from his mother who was half Italian half Slav. Marx was a late romantic impressionist whose musical inspiration was nourished by his deep and spiritual tie to Mother Nature to whom he wrote so many glorious hymns of love. This is why the mood of his music is so sensuous, optimistic and even hedonistic, a work of art created by a happy man who wants to share his delight with others.


Photographs of the house in Vienna where Marx lived from 1915 to 1964 and some photographs of his grave of honour at the Vienna Central Cemetary

The following photographs were shot by Martin Rucker on April 1, 2003.

Traungasse 6, Vienna (46 kB)

Traungasse 6, Vienna (38 kB)

Traungasse 6, Vienna (54 kB)

"In this house lived the composer Joseph Marx from 1915 to 1964.
Dedicated by the Mozartgemeinde (Mozart Society), Vienna 1965."


Grave of Honour, Vienna (78 kB)

Grave of Honour, Vienna (50 kB)


Many more photos of places in Austria where Marx lived and worked can be found here...


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CD: Eine Herbstsymphonie     CD: Orchesterwerke Vol. 1 (Naxos-Wiederveröffentlichung)     CD: Orchesterwerke Vol. 2 (Naxos-Wiederveröffentlichung)

im ORF
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von Joseph Marx

Orchestriert von
St. Esser & B. Haydin

* * * verlegt bei der Universal Edition * * *

Hier weitere Infos und Hörbeispiele (MP3)

24. und 25. Oktober 2005

Das Grazer Orchester recreation - Großes Orchester Graz
spielte unter der Leitung von Michel Swierczewski die


(Stefaniensaal in Graz, Österreich)

* * *   Erste Aufführung seit fast 80 Jahren   * * *

Der Autor dieser Website hat diesem seltenen, bedeutenden
Ereignis beigewohnt und berichtet hier ausführlich über die
großartige Rezeption in der österreichischen Presse

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Last update of this page: 24.04.2007 21:29:02 MESZ
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