Apostel, Hans Erich

(b Karlsruhe, 22 Jan 1901; d Vienna, 30 Nov 1972). Austrian composer of German birth. He studied the piano, theory and conducting with Alfred Lorenz at the Munz Conservatory in his home town of Karlsruhe (1915--19), where he was later appointed musical director and repetiteur at the Badische Landesbuhne (1920). In 1921 he went to Vienna where he became a pupil of Schoenberg and, from 1925, of Berg. From 1922 Apostel himself took private pupils, initially in piano, and later also in general music theory and composition. One of his students, taken on at Berg's request, was Alma Mahler's daughter Manon Gropius, whose early death was later to inspire Berg's Violin Concerto. He was much affected by Berg's death in 1935 and, consequently, his creative ability was weakened for a short time.

At the outbreak of World War II Apostel, by then active as a pianist, accompanist and conductor of contemporary music at home and abroad, was in Geneva, but, not being a Jew, he had to leave Switzerland and go into internal exile. Since Apostel was considered part of the Schoenberg circle, his music was branded degenerate (entartet) during the war. Nevertheless the composer continued to pursue his own path without compromise: the only performance he received during this period was of O sage, wo du bist op.10 no.1, which was sung by the Vienna Boys' Choir under Ferdinand Grossmann in 1942. Directly after the end to the fighting in Vienna, Apostel was authorized by the Austrian resistance group 'o5' on 20 April 1945 to re-establish the Austrian section of the ISCM, of which he went on to become president (1946--8). He also worked as a reader for Universal Edition, revising the scores of, among other works, Berg's Wozzeck (in 1955) and Lulu (in 1963). In 1960 he became a member of the influential Austrian Art Senate, and in 1962 a corresponding member of the Vienna Secession. Among his friends were not only composers such as Berg and Webern, but also numerous painters, including Emil Nolde, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin, whose work was a significant inspiration to Apostel. He received, among other awards, the Emil Hertzka Prize (1937, for op.4), the Major Art Prize of the City of Vienna (1948), the Major Austrian State Prize (1957) and the Major Monaco Composition Prize (1968, for op.41). These honours, however, had very little effect on the number of performances his music received, which remained low after his death. Among his most important pupils were Rainer Bischof and Eugene Hartzell.

After beginning in the styles of late Romanticism and Expressionism, Apostel was a consistent follower of the techniques developed by Schoenberg and Berg. As is revealed in his sketches, his creative process was closely related to the formal conception and the rhythmic structure of his works. Motivic and thematic elements were bound to the series: contrary to the usual definition of the latter, Apostel tended to equate theme and series ('the series, so to speak the theme, is divided into motives'-- see Kaufmann, 1965, p.20). The compositional credo he articulated in 1957 was 'one note -- a sound; two notes -- a relationship; three notes -- a law' (ibid., 23). Despite his often constructivist compositional procedures, Apostel achieved highly elaborate melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal structures -- even in strict dodecaphonic pieces -- which influenced positively the reception of his work by a mainly conservative public (Apostel called himself a 'Hanslickianer', to whom 'musical beauty is an aesthetic law'). His style can be described as involving an extreme concentration (though not a reduction) of compositional means, which results in a terseness of musical organization and an economy of texture. Rhythmic and metric irregularities and parodies of familiar music (such as waltzes and marches) are likewise characteristic, as are traditional techniques of part-writing. Occasionally (as in op.22, op.26 and op.45) Apostel made use of Zwolftonfelder, unordered 12-note sets, in which note repetitions occur freely. Like the composers of the Second Viennese School, Apostel was ambivalent in his attitude towards programmatic descriptions which, once disclosed, were often quickly withdrawn. He also possessed a fine, if at times grotesque and uncontrolled, sense of humour and felt an affinity towards popular songs and the Wiener Lied (as is illustrated in Der Zecher of 1964). Much of Apostel's music testifies to the failure of his attempt to reconcile Schoenberg's rigour and Berg's freedom. This made him all the more resentful towards composers, for instance of aleatory and graphic scores, who gave performers an essential role in the creation of the work and thus, in his view, shirked the responsibilities of compositional craftsmanship. He did, however, respect composers, such as Berio, whose work entails an enrichment of sound resources. His uncompromising attitude as well as his oversensitivity caused conflicts which to a certain extent account for why, despite influential advocates, Apostel found himself in an artistic isolation which has continued after his death.


11 Adagio, 2 hp, hpd, pf, 1937
17 Variationen uber ein Thema von Joseph Haydn, 1949
21 Ballade, 1953--5 [version of pf work Fantasia ritmica, 1951--2]
-- Variationen uber 3 Volkslieder, 1956, unpubd
27 Rondo ritmico, 1957
30 Piano Concerto, 1958, unpubd; arr. 2 pf (1960)
-- Festliche Musik, wind orch, 1958--62
-- 5 osterreichische Miniaturen, 1959
41 Kammersymphonie, 1965--7
43 Epitaph, str, 1969, unpubd
44 Paralipomena dodekaphonika, 1969--70 [2nd part of op.17 variations]
50 Passacaglia, 1972 [2nd movt of unfinished Conc. for Orch]

-- 5 Lieder (H. Bethge: Die chinesische Flote), 1v, pf, 1923, unpubd
-- Dammerstunde (T. Storm), 1v, pf, 1925
-- Horch! -- Horch! (A. Mombert), 1v, pf, 1926
-- Funf Lieder (Mombert: Der Gluhende), 1v, pf, 1926, withdrawn [designated op.12 in MS]
-- Meeresstille, gluckliche Fahrt (J.W. von Goethe), 4 male vv, 1928, unpubd
3 Funf Lieder (H. Johst), low v, pf/orch, 1930--31
4 Requiem (R.M. Rilke), 8vv, orch, 1933
6 Vier Lieder (Rilke), low v, pf, 1935
9 Funf Gesange (F. Holderlin), low v, orch, 1939--40
10/1 O sage, wo du bist (F. Ruckert), 6 female/boys' vv, 1942 unpubd
10/2 Untreue (J.F. Eichendorff), withdrawn
10/3 Es waren zwei Konigskinder (folksong), chorus, 1944
15 Drei Gesange (S. George), medium v, pf, 1948
-- Jager-Ballade von der Gams (Ein Sylvesterspuk), spkr, chorus, orch, 1954--5, unpubd
18 Drei Gesange (G. Trakl), A, 4 va, 2 vc, db, 1951
22 Funf Lieder (R. Felmayr), medium v, fl, cl, bn, 1953
-- Oktobernacht (R. Billinger), 1v, pf, 1954
16 Um Mitternacht (E. Morike), 6vv, 1957
28 Hohe des Jahres (J. Gunert), 4 male vv, 1958
36 Ode (Apostel), A, large orch, 1961--2
-- Sylvester-Rakete mit Atmospharenklang, female vv, orch, 1963--4, unpubd
37 Triptychon (F. Braun), 1--6 boys' vv, a fl, 1964
-- Der Zecher (E. Schmale), 1v, pf, 1964 [under the pseudonym Lea Post]
40 Zwei Gesange (Mombert), medium 1v, pf, 1965
-- Couplet (A. Drach), 3vv, pf, perc, 1968, unpubd
46a Weisse Wicken in der Vase (E. Reich), medium v, pf, 1971
-- Songs for 1v, pf, unpubd

chamber and solo instrumental
-- String Quartet, d, 1926, unpubd
-- 5 orientalische Schemen, pf, 1926, unpubd
-- 5 Klavierstucke, 1927, unpubd
1 Variationen nach einer Kokoschka-Mappe, pf, 1928, unpubd
2 Sonata, pf, 1929, unpubd
5 Sonatina ritmica, pf, 1934
7 String Quartet no.1, 1935
-- Variationen aus Lulu, pf 4 hands/2 pf, 1935 [arr. of no.4 of Berg: Symphonische Stucke aus der Oper 'Lulu']
8 Klavierstuck, 1938
13 Kubiniana, pf, 1946 [after drawings by A. Kubin]
13a Sechzig Schemen, pf, 1948--9, unpubd [after drawings by Kubin]
14 Quartet, fl, cl, bn, hn, 1947--9
19 Three Sonatinas, 1951--2: no.1, fl; no.2, cl; no.3, bn
20 Funf Bagatellen, fl, cl, bn, 1952
-- Fantasia ritmica, pf, 1951--2, rev. as Ballade, orch
23 Intrada, 9 tpt, 3 trbn, 6 hn, 2 tubas, perc, 1954
24 Concise, suite, pf, 1955
25 Sechs Musiken, gui, 1955
26 String Quartet no.2, 1956 [in 1 movt]
29 Studie, fl, va, gui, 1958, rev. 1964
31a Vier kleine Klavierstucke, 1959
31b Fantasie, pf, 1959
32 Alpacher Miniaturen, hpd, 1960, unpubd
33 Sechs Epigramme, str qt, 1962
34a Kleine Passacaglia, pf, 1961, unpubd
34b Toccata, pf, 1961, unpubd
35 Sonata, vc, pf, 1962
38 Kleines Kammerkonzert, fl, va, gui, 1964
39a Sonatina, ob, 1964
39b Sonatina, hn, 1964
-- Geburtstag-Fanfare, 6 tpt, 6 trbn, 1964, unpubd
42a Sonatina, tpt, 1970, unpubd
42b Sonatina, trbn, 1970, inc.
45 Fischerhaus-Serenade, str qnt, fl, ob, cl, bn, tpt, hn, trbn, 1971
-- Several Albumblatter, pf, unpubd
-- Several variations for str qt, unpubd
MSS in A-Wn
Principal publishers: Universal, Doblinger, Hofmeister-Figaro, Rubato

'Betrachtungen zur zeitgenossischen Melodie', Osterreichische Musiker-Zeitung (1 April 1928)
'Leonore 40/45 (von R. Liebermann)',OMz, viii (1953), 83--4
'Anmerkungen zur asthetischen Situation', Beitrage 1967 (Kassel, 1967), 54--5
'Ethik und Asthetik der musikalischen Aussage', OMz, xxv (1970), 10--16
MS writings on Schoenberg, Berg and other topics in A-Wn

H. Winter: 'Ein Wiener Komponist: H.E. Apostels ''Variationen uber ein Haydn-Thema''', Melos, xvii (1965), 316--17
F. Saathen: 'Apostels ''Stille Gotter''', Melos, xxii (1955), 172--4
H. Kaufmann: 'Die zweite Generation', OMz, xvi (1961), 290--95
H. Kaufmann: H.E. Apostel: eine Studie (Vienna, 1965), [incl. interview repr. in OMz, xx (1965), 89--94]
W. Szmolyan: 'H.E. Apostels Kammersymphonie op.41', OMz, xxiii (1968), 266--9
M. Rubin: 'H.E. Apostel zum Gedenken', Osterreichische Autorenzeitung, xxiv/Dec (1972), 17--18
H. Spiel: 'Apostelspiel', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (25 July 1972); repr. in Gruber (1989), 192--3
W. Szmolyan: 'Zwolftonserenade am Fuschlsee', OMz, xxvii (1972), 489--90
E. Hartzell: 'H.E. Apostel', Doblingers Verlagsnachrichten, xv (1973), 4--7
W. Szmolyan: 'H.E. Apostels letzte Werke', OMz, xxviii (1973), 29--34
R. Bischof: 'H.E. Apostel oder die Schonheit der Ordnung, OMz, xxxv (1980), 15--27
R. Hilmar: '''... nach den hinterlassenen endgultigen Korrekturen des Komponisten revidiert'': eine Studie zur Drucklegung von Musikalien im 20. Jahrhundert, dargestellt am Beispiel der Oper Wozzeck von Alban Berg', Gutenberg Jb, lviii (1983), 112--30 [contains Apostel's account of Wozzeck]
F. Saathen: Von Kundern, Kauzen und Ketzern: biographischen Studien zur Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts (Vienna, 1986), 180--230
H. Krones: 'H.E. Apostel', Konzertbuch: Kammermusik A--G, ed. I. Allihin (Leipzig, 1988), 25--30
M. Fink: 'Alfred Kubin und H.E. Apostel: das bildhafte Programm zur Kubiniana', Musicologica Austriaca, ix (1989), 91--110
G.W. Gruber: 'H.E. Apostel: Fischerhaus-Serenade, op.45', Dodekaphonie in Osterreich nach 1945, ed. G. Scholz (Vienna, 1989), 184--221