Viktor Ullmann’s musical career tragically ended prematurely when he was sent to Terezín’s ghetto during World War II. He is notably known today for his opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis, or The Refusal of Death).
Born into a Jewish family converted to Catholicism, his taste for music brought him at a very early age to Arnold Schoenberg’s composing lessons.
He was deported to Terezín in 1942, where he organized music performances, giving him the opportunity to keep composing.
Most of his pieces were lost during the war. He was also known as a music critic, director of Aussig Opera and conductor of the New German Theatre.
Six landmark dates in the life of Viktor Ullmann:
1918: Composition studies with Schoenberg
1920-1927: Lessons with Alexander von Zemlinsky, conductor at the New German Theatre in Prague.
1927: Director of the Aussig Opera House
1933: Professor and music critic in Prague
1935-1937: Composition lessons at Alois Haba's
1929-1939: Composer and conductor at the “Schauspielhaus” in Zurich
Three key works by Viktor Ullmann:
1923: Seven Putty Songs with Piano
1925: Variations and Double Fugue on a Small Piano Piece by Schonberg
1928: Peer Gynt, opera
1935: Der Sturz des Antichrists (The Fall of the Antichrist), opera
1939: Piano Concerto opus 25
1944: Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis, or The Refusal of Death), opera