Alfred Uhl


Alfred Uhl

Alfred Uhl (June 5, 1909 – June 8, 1992) was an Austrian composer. He studied with Franz Schmidt at the Vienna Music Academy, receiving a diploma in composition with honours in 1932. He subsequently worked as Kappelmeister of the Swiss Festspielmusik in Zürich. While there he composed scores for a variety of cultural and industrial films. He returned to Vienna in 1938 and in 1940 was drafted into the Austrian Army. From 1940 to 1942 he commanded a French prison camp in Neumarkt. He joined the faculty of the Vienna Music Academy in 1945, where he taught theory, orchestration and composition until his retirement in 1980. He was the recipient of the Vienna Schubert Prize (1943), the Austrian State Prize (1960), the Vienna Music Prize (1961), the Viennese Gold Medal of Honour (1969) and the Austrian Badge of Honour for Service and Arts (1980). He also served as the president of the Austrian Gesellschaft der Autoren, Komponisten und Musikverleger (1970) and the Künstler-Union (1976).

As a composer, Uhl synthesized elements from neo-classicism, atonality, serialism and traditional tonal and contrapuntal idioms. His vibrant style combined technical sophistication and musical charm with wit and humour, rhythmic inventiveness, thematic development and advanced harmonic language. He wrote eight film scores, one opera, several choral works, and multiple symphonic and chamber music pieces. He wrote extensively for the clarinet, including educational material and works that are still common repertoire. His most famous educational pieces are the two volumes which comprise the "48 Studies" (see below). His "Divertimento for Three Clarinets and Bass Clarinet" is one of the most performed works for the medium. Written in 1942 for clarinettists from the Vienna Philharmonic, it is a very demanding 3-movement work structured similarly to a conventional concerto.

Other works include a concerto for clarinet and orchestra ("Konzertante Sinfonie for Clarinet and Orchestra") and a trio for clarinet, piano and viola ("Kleines Konzert").

48 Studies for clarinet

Two volumes of 24 studies each, first published in 1940 by Schott Musik International, were designed to familiarise the advancing clarinettist with some of the more difficult possibilities being written in modern instrumental music. This is stated by Uhl himself in a foreword to some, but not all editions. As such, they occasionally include intervals which require sliding over keys on the French system of clarinet, a technique that is generally frowned upon unless, as in these cases, it cannot be avoided.

The studies are characterized by their extensive use of neo-romantic chromaticism and rhythmic complexity. Occasionally viewed as less musical and more technical than most studies, some clarinetists consider it a second goal to bring out the musicality of each piece, which may be hidden behind technical complexities.

Uhl was assisted by Leopold Wlach of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, who made suggestions and revisions throughout the writing process.

ources

*J.M. Hinson. The "New Grove Dictionary of Opera", edited by Stanley Sadie (1992). ISBN 0-333-73432-7 and ISBN 1-56159-228-5


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