Zeisl's music manuscripts, published
scores, correspondence, documents, recordings, and other materials.
Zeisl was born in Vienna on May 18, 1905. A student of Richard Stöhr, Joseph Marx and Hugo
Kauder, Zeisl achieved early recognition, publishing his first songs at the age of 16 and
winning the Austrian State Prize in 1934 for the Requiem concertante (1933-1934). He was
compelled to leave Austria and went first to Paris (1938) and then to the USA (1939). He
moved from New York to Hollywood to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1941), then settled in Los
Angeles and became professor of theory and composition at Los Angeles City College in 1949.
His gifts for melody, orchestration and dramatic expression were first developed in the
songs of his Austrian years. Evident in his other Austrian compositions are the variation
techniques and contrapuntal textures that would become lifelong preoccupations. In the USA,
where he produced roughly half of his output, he abandoned song in order to devote more
attention to instrumental pieces, sacred music and especially dramatic works, which
powerfully express his Jewish heritage. Throughout his career he derived his large forms
principally from those of the Baroque and Classical periods, but after his emigration
earlier Austro-German Romantic elements were replaced by a combination of soaring,
cantillation-like melodies, modal harmonies, metric shifts, flexible rhythmic patterns and
dark orchestral colours. Zeisl died in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 1959.
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