Rudi Stephan, German Composer (1887-1915)

Although Heinz Moehn did not know Rudi Stephan personally, he was a major figure in his life. Indeed, his admiration for the composer was so great that he named his first child Rudi Stephan Moehn in his honour. Stephan was a rising figure in German composition in the second decade of the twentieth century, and in 1913 he signed a contract with B. Schott’s Söhne, the publishing company at which Moehn was later an editor. At the beginning of the First World War, Stephan volunteered for service. He began his military training in 1915, and was killed during action in Galicia in September of that year.

Stephan left few surviving compositions, including a number of Lieder, a large-scale dramatic work, and several instrumental works. His musical style is often characterized as a combination of late Romanticism and Expressionism, but has also been called a forerunner of New Objectivity. In connection with the latter aesthetic movement, Stephan consistently titled his instrumental works using the unobtrusive formula “Musik für…” (Musik für Orchester, Musik für Geige und Orchester, Musik für sieben Saiteninstrumente). Moehn’s admiration for Stephan’s work undoubtedly led him to use this convention for his own Musik für Violine und Orchester.

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Barron, Stephanie. German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988.

Blackburn, Robert. “Rudi Stephan: An Unfulfilled Talent?” The Musical Times 128, no. 1733 (1987): 375-378.

Brand, Juliane. “The Music of Rudi Stephan.” PhD diss., Yale University, 1991.

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Leichtentritt, Hugo. “German Music of the Last Decade.” The Musical Quarterly 10, no. 2 (1924): 193-218.

Moehn, Heinz. “Lebenslauf.”

Schubert, Giselher. “Aus der musikalischen Vorgeschichte der Neuen Sachlichkeit.” Die Musikforschung 29, no. 2 (1976): 137-154.