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Society founded in Vienna in 1903 by the music critic Paul Stefan (1879‒1943) and the writer and theater director Wilhelm von Wymetal (1862‒1937), and continuing independently until 1911.

The Society

Named after the composer and pianist Conrad Ansorge (1862‒1930), a pupil of Liszt and noted supporter of contemporary music and literature, the objective proclaimed in its motto was to promote all great art, both old and new ("Jeder grosse Kunst alter und neue zu pflegen"). Arnold Schoenberg's friend, teacher, and brother-in law Alexander von Zemlinsky, who had joined the conducting team at the Theater an der Wien in September 1903, and had become disillusioned with Vienna's relatively conservative Tonkünstlerverein, was a founder member; according to Moskovitz "he was recruited to serve as the organization's pianist."

Songs by both Zemlinsky and Schoenberg were performed at early concerts sponsored by the Society, and a review of the Society's inaugural event on November 29, 1903 praised Zemlinsky as "the excellent vocal accompanist" (Neue musikalische Presse 13 (1904), No. 2, 29‒30). The Society also arranged lectures, given by such notable figures as Hermann Bahr, Adolf Loos and Franz Wedekind. However, it soon became clear to Zemlinsky that the Ansorge-Verein was more concerned to focus on poetry and literature than on music, and in 1904 he was involved with Schoenberg, Franz Schmidt and others in forming the Vereinigung schaffender Tonkünstler (Society for Creative Musicians). This was focused entirely on modern music, and Mahler agreed to become its honorary president.

The Society was eventually merged in 1911 with the Akademischer Verband für Kunst und Literatur (Academic Union for Art and Literature).

Ansorge-Verein and Schenker

The Ansorge-Verein is mentioned in two items of correspondence to Schenker: OJ 14/15, [8], January 1904, from Zemlinsky, Gutheil, and Schoenberg, citing the Society as a model for establishing a new society for the promotion of new music; and OJ 14/15, [9], an invitation to attend an event of the Ansorge-Verein, described as an "Ansorge‒Gruber‒Schoenberg evening," on February 11, 1904, which Schenker did not take up. (Schoenberg strove to involve Schenker in the planned new society, but to no avail.)

Source:

  • Moskovitz, Marc D., Alexander Zemlinsky. A Lyric Symphony (Boydell Press, 2010), p.90

Contributor:

  • Arnold Whittall

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Correspondence