The Birthday of the Infanta

I.  The Birthday of the Infanta

The fairy tale ‘The Birthday of the Infanta‘ was the inspiration for a collection of musical adaptations going from ballets to operas. ‘The Birthday of the Infanta‘ first appeared as ‘The Birthday of the LittlePrincess’ in Paris Illustré in 1889 and was reprinted as ‘The Birthday of the Infanta‘ in A House of Pomegranates (1891),  the story dedicated to Mrs. William H. Grenfell, mother of the war poet Julian Grenfell (1888-1915).

The first musical adaptations were ballets: 1909 Vienna; premiere of a ballet to music by Franz Schreker; 1913 Brockhaus: premiere of a ballet on music by Bernhard Sekles and 1918 premieres of the ballets of Miklos Radnai in Budapest and John Alden Carpenter in Chicago.

Schreker, Franz

(Monaco, 1878-Berlin, 1934) – Austrian composer

Der Geburtstag der Infantin, (pantomime, Schreker, after O. Wilde), chamber orchestra, 1908; Vienna in an open-air theatre at the ‘Kunstschau’, 27th June 1908; rev. as Spanisches Fest, 1926, Berlin Staatsoper, 22nd January 1927

The Secessionists clustered around Gustav Klimt arranged a dance-pantomime version of Oscar Wilde’s fairy-tale The Birthday of the Infanta. This spectacle in the garden theatre at the ‘Kunstschau’ was accompanied by an orchestra that was relatively small yet considerably bigger than might be expected for an open-air performance. The music which was found so appealing was by Franz Schreker. With this work Schreker, who was thirty at the time, experienced his first relative triumph. Schreker’s reputation as one of the ‘Neutöner’ was strengthened by the success of this ballet pantomime.

The Birthday of the Infanta of Franz Schreker was published as

  • Tanz-Suite Der Geburtstag der Infantin by Universal-Edition, Vienna 1909;
  • Der Geburtstag der Infantin Suite by Universal-Edition, Vienna & New York 1923;
  • Der Geburtstag der Infantin Suite by Universal-Edition, Vienna & New York 1924 in an arrangement by Meinhard von Zallinger;
  • Der Geburtstag der Infantin Suite by Wiener PhilharmonischerVerlag, Vienna 1925;
  • Der Geburtstag der Infantin Suite by Universal-Edition, Vienna & New York 1926 in an arrangement by Meinhard von Zallinger.

2.  Sekles, Bernhard

(Frankfurt am Main 1872-1934) – German composer and conductor

The Birthday of the Infanta, ballet, 1913.  Première: Brockhaus 1913.

Robert Tanitch calls this ballet in his work Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen (Methuen, 1999) The Dwarf and the Infanta.

Bernhard Sekles worked as conductor in different locations. He became in 1896 teacher and in 1916 director of the Hoch-Konservatorium in Frankfurtam Main. Sekles was the composition teacher of Paul Hindemith. He created operas such as Scheherazade (1917) and Die zehn Küsse (1926), ballets The Birthday of the Infanta (1913) and Die Hochzeit des Faun (1921), but also orchestral and chamber music, piano music and songs.

3.  Radnai, Miklós

(Budapest, 1892 – Budapest, 1935) – Hungarian opera administrator and composer

Az infánsznö születésnapja [The Birthday of the Infanta], ballet after Oscar Wilde, Budapest Opera House, 26th April 1918.

Radnai studied at the Budapest Academy of Music . While teaching theory at the Fodor Conservatory he won a scholarship, which enabled him to study composition in Munich and in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1925 he was appointed director of the Budapest Opera House (the youngest to hold that post since Mahler), where he remained until his death, making an outstanding contribution to Hungarian music. In his compositions, including operas, orchestral works, songs, chamber music and piano pieces, Radnai showed less response to recent developments. His best know work is the ballet The Birthday of the Infanta.

Source: The New Grove  Dictionary of Music and Musicians/ ed. by Stanley Sadie. 2nd ed.

4.  Carpenter, John Alden

(Park Ridge, Ill., 1876 – Chicago, 1951) – American composer

The Birthday of the Infanta, ballet, 1917-1918; Chicago, 1919

John Alden Carpenter was a pupil of J.K. Paine at Harvard and of Elgar.  His music, refined and skillfully written, influenced by French impressionism, often conveys the spirit and the scenes of American life in such works as the orchestral suite Adventures in a Perambulator (1914) and the ballets Krazy Kat (Chicago, 1921) and Skyscrapers (New York, 1926, composed for Diaghilev). A Spanish flavour and jazz, frequently elements in his music, are both found in Patterns (1932) for orchestra. Other important works are his ballet The Birthday of the Infanta (Chicago, 1919), a violin concerto(1937) , a concertino for piano and orchestra (1915), songs, symphonies, and chamber music.

In the following decades some ballets were inspired by the fairy-tale of Oscar Wilde appeared, though most of them are forgotten.

5.  Lutyens, Elisabeth

(London, 1906-1984)

The Birthday of the Infanta, ballet, 1932, premiere Adelphi Theatre, London, presented by the Camargo Society

Agnes Elisabeth Lutyens was an important British composer. Her father was the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, and she received the benefit of a cultured,fine learning environment for her early and educational years. She went to Paris from 1922 to 1923, studying at the École Normale de Musique. Later, she studied with H. Darke at the Royal College of Music in her hometown of London, from 1926 to 1930. She spent her life searching ‘for a congenial idiom of musical expression, beginning with the erstwhile fashionable Romantic manner and progressing toward a more individual, psychologically tense writing in an atonal technique using a sui generis dodecaphonic method of composition’ [from her autobiography, A Goldfish Bowl, 1972]. She married Edward Clark, a conductor, and in 1969 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.  Her first important public performance was that of the ballet The Birthday of the Infanta in 1932.

Information on life and works can be found on:

6.  Tischhauser, Franz

(Berne 1921) – Swiss composer.

Der Geburtstag der Infantin, (Tanzspiel, after O. Wilde), 1941

This Swiss composer studied at the Zurich Conservatory. From 1951 to 1983 he worked at Radiostudio Zurich, serving as head of the music department from 1971. He was awarded the city of Zurich music prize in 1988. An outsider even on the Swiss musical scene, his relatively small compositional output retains the framework of classical tonality. From 1989 he has focused on revising, publishing and making new arrangements of his works.


There is a list available of the works of Tischhauser:

Franz Tischhauser. Werkverzeichnis / Liste des Œuvres.  Zürich: Schweizerisches Musik-Archiv / Archives Musicales Suisses 1988.  Principal publishers are Amadeus-verlag, Hug, Schott and Peters.

7.  Zitek, Otaker

On the Rose, ballet, 1941

Robert Tanitch mentions this adaptation in his work Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen.

8.  Hercigonja, Nikola

(Vinkovci, 1911) ? Croatian composer

Rodjendan infantin [The Infanta’s Birthday], ballet, 1942-45

Hercigonja studied at the Zagred Academy.  After some years’ teaching, he became chorus director of the National Liberation Theater. He was adviser to the Education Ministry in Zagreb; taught at Belgrade University until his appointment in 1950 as professor at the Belgrade Academy of Music. He has also been active as a writer on music. Hercigonja also composed some dramatic and vocal works.

There is also a children’s radio opera in two acts, after Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Faithful Friend, Mali Hans [Little Hans], composed between 1942 and 1959, but unperformed.


9.  Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario

(Florence, 1895 ? Los Angeles, 1968)? Italian composer

The Birthday of the Infanta (Wilde), ballet, op. 115, 1942,New Orleans, 1947

After attending the Florence conservatory he studied the piano and composition.  With the help of composer Alfredo Casella, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s works soon reached an international audience.  His first opera, La mandragola (1920-1923) won first prize at the first Concorso Lirico Nazionale in 1925.

World War II and Italy’s anti-semitism forced the Castelnuovo-Tedesco family to flee the country in 1939 and to move to the USA, where the composer later became a  US citizen. In addition to film scores, orchestral music and many works for classical guitar, he composed a number of scenic oratorios on biblical text and some operas. His final opera was a musically sophisticated comedy based on The Importance of Being Earnest (1961-1962).


10.  Auclert, Pierre


Rose Rouge, ballet.  Premiere: Opéra Comique, Paris, 1947.  Choreography Jean-Jacques Etcheverry

11.  Hubeau, Jean

 (Paris, 1917 – Paris, 1992) French composer, pianist and pedagogue.

Un Coeur de Diamant ou l’Infante, ballet.  Presented by Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo at the Paris Opera, 1949.  Choreography David Lichine

 The work is overlong but Lichine and Hubeau have so caught the bitter-sweet atmosphere of Wilde’s story that judicious cutting would transform it into a minor masterpiece.

 — Dancing Times.

 (Robert Tanitch: Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen p. 366)

Jean Hubeau studied piano and composition at the Conservatoire de Paris.  He became the  Second Grand Prix of Rome in 1934 with the cantata La Légende de Roukmani. In 1942 he was made director of the Conservatoire of Versailles and in 1957 he was professor of chamber music at the Conservatoire de Paris. He was a striking piano player who played with different ensembles.  He composed a lot of instrumental pieces for different instruments, vocal works and stage works including three ballets Trois Fables de la Fontaine, La Fiancée du diable, Un Cœur de diamant ou l’Infante.

12.  Fortner, Wolfgang

(Leipzig, 1907 – Heidelberg, 1987)  German composer and teacher.

Die weisse Rose, (ballet, 2 parts, libretto Jens Keith after O. Wilde: The Birthday of the Infanta), 1950; Premiere 28 April 1951, Städtische Oper Berlin, Ballett der Oper.  Choreography Jens Keith (Stralsund, 1898 – Berlin, 1958).

Fortner started studying composition, organ and musicology in Leipzig.  He became lecturer in composition and music theory. Soon Fortner established his reputation as one of the foremost composition teachers of his time.  He had a great influence on a whole generation of young composers from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Fortner’s music represents the convergence of many mainstream 20th-century aesthetic trends: neo-classicism, serialism, and the use of instrumental colour as both a structural and an impressionistic element.  Overtly dramatic, whether in balletic, operatic or concertante works, it nonetheless shows a hard won balance between head and heart, a quality which also made Fortner one of the outstanding teachers and administrators in post-war Germany.

13.  Patch, Harry

Ballet on The Birthday of the Infanta, 1971, Première Johannesburg.  Choreography Gary Burne. Music  Harry Patch.

By a clever reversal of the Oscar Wildean characters it is the members of the court who are the grotesques. The dwarf who is the real misshapen being only because he lacks the elaborate trappings of court convention … Phyllis Spira displays a flawless technique plus great depth and range of emotional expression in her creation of the Infanta.

  —June Schneider: Dance News

Source: Robert Tanitch: Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen.

14.  Semenoff, Ivan Kogan

The Scarf, ballet.  Premiere: Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Massachusetts.  Choreography Peter Van Dijak.  Music  Ivan Kogan Semenoff

Source: R. Tanitch: Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen.

15.  Ravel, Maurice

Ballet Geburtstag der Infantin, 1980, premiere Nationaltheater, Mannheim.  Choreography Joachim Gerster.  Music  Maurice Ravel

Source: Robert Tanitch: Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen.

16.  Johnson, Douglas

(Oakland, California 1949) American composer, violinist and conductor.

The Birthday of the Infanta, one-act ballet score after Oscar Wilde, for large orchestra, 1989.

Suite from The Birthday of the Infanta, 1991, performed in September 1991 in a Faculty Showcase Concert at Trinity College, conducted by the composer.

Douglas B. Johnson studied from 1970-1972 in Vienna, working with composerFriedrich Neumann and violist Akos Berei. He graduated magna cum laude from Humboldt State University in 1975, and worked as a freelance musician, moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1980. Returning to graduate school in 1983, he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1988, he joined the faculty at Trinity College. He primarily teaches courses in music theory, composition, and coaches instrumental music ensembles.

Douglas B. Johnson composes music in various genres: music for virtuoso soloists, songs, chamber music, as well as choral and orchestral music.  He is particularly interested in the idiomatic potentials and limitations of unamplified music. He is excited by the presence of live performers and their mastery of their instruments and voices. He seeks to create a music that speaks at once to the emotions and to the intellect, a music in which the role of the listener is as important as that of the performer.

Information about Douglas B. Johnson on the web:

17.  Schreker, Franz

(Monaco, 1878-Berlin, 1934) Austrian composer.

Die Gezeichneten, (opera, 3 acts, libretto Schreker), 1913-1915; Frankfurt, 25 April 1918

Born in 1878, Schreker was forty years old when his  Wilde inspired opera Die Gezeichneten was premiered. With two earlier works, Derferne Klang (1912) and Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin (1913), he had already established his credentials as an composer of new opera.  As the founder and conductor of Vienna’s Philharmonic Chorus he had led notable performances of Mahler and Schoenberg and as a teacher at the Vienna Academy he had gathered around him a talented and enthusiastic circle of students. In 1920 he was named director of the Berlin Hochschue für Musik, Germany’s premier conservatory, and over the twelve years of his tenure he created an institution of unparalleled lustre. During the first years of the Weimar Republic Schreker’s operas dominated the German stage.  Between them Der ferne Klang, Die Gezeichneten, and Der Schatzgräber had nearly a hundred productions and a thousand performances, a statistic rivalled only by the works of Richard Strauss. With Irrelohe, premièred by Otto Klemperer in Cologne in 1924, and Der singende Teufel, premièred by Erich Kleiber in Berlin in 1928, Schreker’s success began to wane. The scheduled Freiburg premiere of  Christophorus, completed in1929 was withdrawn in 1933 because of political threats and Schreker’s last opera, Der Schmied von Gent was the object of Nazi demonstrations at its Berlin première in 1932. When political pressure forced his resignation from the Hochschule in 1932, Schreker accepted a master class at the Prussian Academy of Arts. In 1933 he was forcibly removed from his post at the Academy and before the end of the year Schreker suffered a stroke from which he died on 21 March 1934, two days before his fifty-sixth birthday.

Die Gezeichneten, premiered to huge acclaim in 1918, is one of the most characteristic works of a composer who was to fall victim to political and musical developments in the 1920s and 30s. Schreker’s opulent, late-Romantic score provides the perfect vehicle for the opera’s fin-de-siècle subject ‘the tragedy of the ugly man’, derived from the story by Oscar Wilde and freely interpreted within an idealistic Renaissance setting.

 Schreker wrote the text in 1911 at the request of Alexander von Zemlinsky,who had asked him for a libretto about the tragedy of the ugly man. It is quite likely that Zemlinsky had in mind something along the lines of Oscar Wilde’s The Birthday of the Infanta, the subject Schreker had treated in pantomime in 1908 and which Zemlinksy would set as Der Zwerg; and indeed Die Gezeichneten does reveal a number of similarities to the Wilde source. In the end Schreker decided to set the libretto himself fand completed his opera in 1915. He invested great energy in researching the Renaissance setting but the setting was only the outer garb for more contemporary preoccupations filtered through the nervous sensibilities of fin-de-siècle Vienna.

The opera tells the story of three souls marked (literally gezeichnet)by fate: Alviano Salvago, a hideously deformed nobleman whose thirst for beauty leads him to create an artificial paradise; the beautiful Carlotta Nardi, whose weak heart forces her to sublimate through her painting what she dare not ask of life; and the reckless cavalier Vitelozzo Tamare, whose unreflecting pursuit of pleasure provides the impetus that brings destruction to all of three.

Source: and Christopher Hailey.

Outstanding biography.  Christopher Hailey: Franz Schreker 1878-1934, A Cultural Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

There’s also a Ph.D. Dissertation about Die Gezeichneten:

Peter Granzow: ‘Franz Schrekers Kompositionsstil untersucht an seiner Oper Die Gezeichneten’. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Innsbruck, 1972.

18.  Zemlinsky, Alexander von

(Vienna, 1871-Larchmont, NY, 1942) Austrian composer and conductor.

 The first real opera adaptation of The Birthday of the Infanta was made by Alexander von Zemlinsky; it became his second Wilde-opera.  The origin of this opera has close relations with Die Gezeichneten of Franz Schreker.

Der Zwerg, (opera, one act, G.C. Klaren, after Wilde: The Birthday of the Infanta), op. 017 (1919-1921), Köln, Neues Theater, 28th May 1922.

Alexander Zemlinsky, who had been described by his mistress, Alma Mahler, as ‘a horrid little gnome, undersized, chinless, toothless’, identified very much with this cruel, little drama. The Dwarf’s moment of self-recognition is most movingly scored. But Zemlinsky does not stop there, as Wilde did, but goes on to score the Infanta’s reflection. The music, rich, passionate and disturbing, clearly comes out of his own rejection by Mahler.

Alban Berg admired ‘the wonderful flow of glorious melody.’ The score was highly praised for its ‘compelling atmosphere, resourceful character portrayal and yearning melodic intensity’. There were many musicians who thought it a masterpiece. The stumbling block to its success (with the public at any rate) was that Georg Klaren’s libretto took far too many liberties with Wilde’s story.

(Robert Tanitch: Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen p. 364-365)

The origins of Der Zwerg lie in Zemlinsky’s obsession with ugliness. Significantly, Alma Mahler referred to Zemlinsky himself in her memoirs as ‘The man cuts the most comical figure imaginable — a caricature, chinless and short, with bulging eyes’.

Zemlinsky may first have come across Wilde’s story in 1908, when Schreker’s pantomime Der Geburtstag der Infantin was first performed in Vienna.  Three years later Zemlinsky commissioned Schreker to write a libretto on the subject of ‘the tragedy of the ugly man’. This crystallized in Die Gezeichneten, which Schreker decided to set himself; its principal character, Alviano, bears a striking resemblance to the Dwarf.

Zemlinsky’s involvement in the origins of Die Gezeichneten goes some way towards explaining why Klaren’s libretto differs significantly from Wilde’s story. Zemlinsky’s emotional identification with the hero also suggests why the work seems so highly charged.  Zemlinsky appears to have made the acquaintance of Georg Klaren around 1918. Klaren was then writing a monograph on Otto Weininger, the young Viennese psychologist who had committed suicide in 1903, shortly after publishing his controversial book Geschlecht und Charakter. It was decided that Klaren should write a libretto based on The Birthday of the Infanta.  Klaren not only re-interpreted Wilde’s Dwarf from the standpoint of Weininger’s sexual theories but also adapted the figure to absorb some of Zemlinsky’s personal traits.  In Klaren’s version the dwarf is no longer a charming natural monster but a much more complex and indeed civilized being. The Dwarf of Wilde’s short story is a half-wild creature, the son of a charcoal-burner from the nearby forest; in the opera, on the other hand, his origins are Oriental and he is reputed to be of noble birth — allusions to Zemlinksy’s partly Jewish ancestry and to the ‘von’ with which his father had spuriously upgraded the family name. Furthermore, Klaren’s Dwarf is a gift from the Sultan — a reference to Zemlinsky’s Turkish-sephardic family background– and a composer.  The character of the Infanta was modified accordingly: the Infanta is no longer a girl but a young woman whose cruelty is premeditated.  The  Infanta is not yet an adult but not longer a child, and her cruelty canbe understood either as a tendency to sadism or as the residue of that ingenuousness with which a child inquisitively destroys a doll, at any rate her actions appear inborn and natural and are neither pathological nor synthetic.  In contrast to Ghita, the favorite maid, whose instincts are purely maternal, she is, in Weininger’s terminology, the harlot in nuce.  ‘In this thumb-nail sketch of the Infanta, all the negative attributes of Alma are clearly detectable, just as the endearing personality of Ghita closely resembles that of Zemlinsky’s first wife, Ida.

(Fragments from Zemlinsky, ‘The Dwarf’ and Death by Antony Beaumont, 1996)

 Zemlinsky composed Der Zwerg between 1919 and 1921. The first performance was conducted by Otto Klemperer in 1922. There were also performances in Vienna (1923), Prague and Berlin (1926). Apart from technical or administrative obstacles, the opera was no longer in tune with the Zeitgeist. Only in the eighties it returned to the opera scene:

Zemlinsky/Alfred Dresen: Der Geburtstag der Infantin:

Although the German director Adolf Dresen  (1935-2001) had been brought up and educated in the former German Democratic Republic, he was permitted to emigrate to Vienna in 1977 and was launched almost immediately on an operatic career. His double bill of Zemlinksy’s Der Zwerg and Eine florentinische Tragödie for the Hamburg Staatsoper in 1981 was highly acclaimed and was taken by the company to the Edinburgh Festival in 1983. It was later reproduced at Covent Garden, London in 1985.  Der Zwerg was performed under the original title Der Geburtstag der Infantin. The director found it necessary to ignore all the changes that Georg Klaren made on the original of Oscar Wilde. This happened without changing a note, without rewriting the libretto and with the permission of Louise Zemlinsky and the publisher, Universal Edition. Adaptation of the text was only necessary in some scenes. The reason for the rewrite was the fact that Klaren deviated on some points from the original story of Wilde.

Both versions of the work are now played.

 The Zemlinsky Page by Volker Kleinschmidt:

The works of Zemlinsky are published by Universal Edition A.G., Vienna:

Recommendable literature is the biography by Beaumont:

Antony Beaumont: Zemlinsky. London: Faber & Faber, 2000. 524pp. ISBN 0-571-16983-X

For those who want to read more about Alexander von Zemlinsky and Alma Mahler:

Françoise Giroud: Alma Mahler, ou L’art d’être aimée. Paris: Laffont, 1988. 259pp. [8 p. pl.] ISBN 2-221-05455-5.  In translation published by Oxford University Press, 1992. ASIN 0198161565

Alma Mahler-Werfel: Mein Leben. – Frankfurt/M: Fischer Verlag.  1960

Alma Mahler-Werfel:   Tagebuch-Suiten 1898-1902.  Ed. Antony Beaumont, Susanne Rode-Breymann. – Frankfurt / Main: S. Fischer, 1997.- XVII, 862 S., geb. – ISBN 3-10-046106-1

In translation:  Alma Mahler-Werfel:  Diaries 1898-1902 /, transl. Anthony Beaumont.  Cornell University Press 2000. 494pp. -ISBN 0801486645

Alma Mahler-Werfel – born 31st August, 1879 in Vienna,   died 11th December, 1964 in New York City – is well known for her close association with many of Europe’s greatest artists and intellectuals. As the daughter of landscape painter Emil Schindler, she grew up in an artistic household, studying art and piano, turning later to composing with Alexander von Zemlinsky as her teacher. The mutual bond of friendship between Alma and Alex gradually blossomed into a passionate, unrestrained love-affair. But Zemlinksy’s dream of love and fulfilment at Alma’s side was soon to be shattered: on 7th November 1901 she met Gustav Mahler and on 27 December the press announced their engagement.

In 1902 she married the composer Gustav Mahler, who was 20 years her senior. Although Mahler was not supportive of Alma’s own musical career, he immortalized her in the first movement of his Symphony No. 6, and he dedicated Symphony No. 8 to her. After Mahler’s death (1911) she had a passionate affair with the painter Oskar Kokoschka, who painted her as The Tempest (1914, Die Windsbraut).  He courted her with a possessive love that she enjoyed and feared at the same time. She left him in 1915 and escaped into a marriage with the architect Walter Gropius, who she hoped would provide peace and calm. She was happy at the birth of her daughter Manon (1916), — she had already had a daughter with Mahler, a second had died as a toddler, and Manon was to die too, at 18 — but gave up the security of that marriage for the young poet Franz Werfel. They married in 1929.

Alma influenced and inspired Werfel, organized his life and his fame, and in 1940 emigrated with him — Werfel was a Jew – to the USA. Franz Werfel died in Los Angeles during the summer of 1945. After Werfel’s death, Alma travelled to Europe and in the early 1950s moved to New York, where she died.

During her lifetime Alma Mahler became friends with numerous celebrated artists, including the painter Gustav Klimt (who made several portraits of her), the composer Arnold Schoenberg, the writer Gerhart Hauptmann, and the singer Enrico Caruso.

19.  Nelson, Ron

(Joliet, Il, 1929) American composer

The Birthday of the Infanta, chamber opera, 1956.

For solo soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and small orchestra.  45 min.  The printed music is available in Carl Fischer Rental Library.

Ron Nelson gained wide recognition as a composer of choral, band and orchestral works. He is Professor Emeritus of  Brown University. Nelson composed two operas, a mass, cantata, oratorio, music for films and television, 90 choral works, and over 40 instrumental works. Important pieces include Rocky Point Holiday (1969), his first major work for wind band and Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H, 1992).

Information about Ron Nelson on the web:

20.  Stoker, Richard

(Castleford, Yorks., 1938) English composer and poet.

The Birthday of the Infanta, (an opera for children in one act, libretto by Sean Vincent and Richard Stoker based on the original short story of O. Wilde), op. 019c, London, St Pancras Town Hall, 12th July 1963.  Possible duration of opera: 35-40 minutes.  For 2 solo voices (sop or treble), chorus (1, 2 & 3 part) and piano (also additional dance and mime parts).

From the age of seven Richard Stoker has written or composed over 300 works of poetry, lyrics, prose and music. He began piano lessons with an uncle at the age of six and took his first steps in composing the following year. He was later taught by Harold Truscott and Eric Fenby in his native Yorkshire and Arthur Benjamin and Benjamin Britten in London. He studied with Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy of Music, then in Paris as a Mendelssohn Scholar with Nadia Boulanger.  Between 1963 and 1987 he was Professor of Composition and a tutor at the Royal Academy of Music, teaching many leading composers of the younger generation. He edited Composer magazine for 11 years, from 1969 to 1980.

He has written for most combinations: operas, a piano concerto, three string quartets, three piano trios, song cycles, choral works, many orchestral works, guitar and organ music. His music has been performed and broadcast worldwide. His three-act chamber opera, ‘Johnson Preserv’d’, received its world premiere in London in 1967. Recent commissions include a Chinese Canticle for Inter-Artes, a Piano Sonata (No.2) for the concert pianist Eric Parkin, and a Partita for mandolin and harp. Much of his music is recorded, including CDs of his Clarinet Sonatina (Chandos, 1994), Piano Works (Eric Parkin, Priory, 1998), Vocal Works and Piano Duets (ASC, 1998).  He has written an autobiography, Open Window — Open Door (1985),a children’s novel, Tanglewood  (1993), a novel, Diva, and collected short stories (1997), and two books of poetry, Words Without Music (1971) and Portrait of a Town (1974).

A full list of Richard Stoker’s compositions can be seen at:

Contact details: Tel: 0208 852 9608.  E-mail:

His principal music publishers include: BMG, Boosey & Hawkes, Fentone, Ricordi, Peters,OUP, Associated Board, Doblinger, Brunton, and Leeds/MCA.

21.  Seagrave, Malcolm

American composer

The Birthday of the Infanta, (an opera in one act, libretto by Janet Lewis and Malcolm Seagrave, from O. Wilde), Claremont, California, 2nd April 1977.

Malcolm Seagrave has an extensive background in classical and chamber music. For many years he was a college music professor before ‘bolting’ from the academic world to write an opera. The Birthday of the Infanta was based on the story of that title by Oscar Wilde and was commissioned by Hidden Valley Music Seminar at Claremont, California. In addition to his classical and film score work, Mr. Seagrave has also produced several rock bands.

Janet Lewis (Chicago, 1899-1998) was poet, novelist, writer of short stories, and teacher. In 1922, she published her first volume of poetry, The Indians in the Woods. She was married to author Yvor Winters in 1926, with whom she founded Gyroscope (1929-1931), an influential literary journal. She has continued to write poetry throughout her life. She is best known for her historical fiction, including The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941). She has taught creative writing and literature courses at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The libretto was published by Symposium Press, Los Angeles, 1979.  300 copies, signed by Janet Lewis Winters.

II. Recordings

There is a fine recording of the opera of Zemlinsky by James Conlon .It earned France’s two premier awards, the ‘Grand Prix du Disque’ and Cannes Classical Award; and Germany’s coveted ECHO classical award:

Der Zwerg / Alexander von Zemlinsky ; libretto Georg C. Klaren.

Soile Isokoski, David Kuebler, Iride Martinez, Andrew Collis … [etal.] ; Frankfurter Kantorei; Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker; conducted by James Conlon

EMI Classics 7243 5 66247 2 6 (1996). 2 compact discs and 2 booklets

Live recording of the world premiere of the definitive edition (11-13.11.1996, Philharmonie-Köln)

There was a fine recording of the Adolf Dresen version of the opera, conducted by Gerd Albrecht, but the recordings are out of stock:

Der Gerburstag der Infantin, Schwann VMS 1626 1984; conducted by Gerd Albrecht

Der Gerburstag der Infantin, Schwann CD 1126 1986; conducted byGerd Albrecht

Der Gerburstag der Infantin, Schwann CD 314 013 H1  1988; conducted by Gerd Albrecht

You can hear the adaptations of Franz Schreker on the following recordings:

Der Geburtstag der Infantin, pantomime / Franz Schreker, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin ; conductor Gerd Albrecht.  Koch Schwann 3-6591-2 (2000) ? 1 compact disc With: Das Weib des Intaphernes: Melodram

There was another recording of this work of Schreker available in the series ‘Entartete Musik: music suppressed by the Third Reich’ – Decca 444182-2.  This recording is for the moment out of stock.

There are two good recordings of the opera Die Gezeichneten available:

In the series ‘Entartete Musik: music suppressed by the Third Reich’ of Decca (‘Entartete Musik’ or ‘degenerate music’ consists of works by composers suppressed or displaced during the political troubles of the 1930s-40s):

Die Gezeichneten / composer and libretto Franz Schreker.  Heinz Kruse, Elizabeth Connell, Monte Pederson, Alfred Muff, LaszloPolgar … [et al.] ; Rundfunkchor Berlin ; chorus master Robin Gritton ; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin ; conductor Lothar Zagrosek..  Decca 444 442-2 (1995) – 3 compact discs and booklet


Die Gezeichneten / composer and libretto Franz Schreker.  Ellen Bollongino, Marilyn Schmiege, Rita Dams, William Cochran … [etal.] ; Dutch Radio Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra ; conducted by Edode Waart.  Marco Polo 4891030233287 ( 1990) — 3 compact discs and booklet

III. ‘Der Zwerg’ on stage

 Some European opera houses will bring ‘Der Zwerg‘ on stage during the coming season 2002-2003. Information can be found at

11th November 2002.  Geneva, Switzerland

Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg / Eine florentinische Tragödie.  Orchestra: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Conductor: Armin Jordan; Choir: Choeur du Grand Théâtre de Genève.

17th November 2002.  Berlin, Komische Oper, Germany

Zemlinksy : Eine florentinische Tragödie; Der Zwerg

24th January 2003.  Brussels, De Munt/La Monnaie, Belgium

Zemlinksy : Eine florentinische Tragödie; Der Zwerg,

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