Ernst Toch

From Wind Repertory Project
Ernst Toch


Ernst Toch (7 December 1887, Vienna, Austria - 1 October, 1964, Los Angeles, Calif.) was an Austrian-American composer and teacher.

Led to believe a career as a composer was not feasible by his father, Toch pursued medical studies at the University of Vienna from 1906-09. However, at a young age, he taught himself piano and studied musical notation with a local violinist. He began writing chamber music in his mid-teens. His amateur compositions won the prestigious Mozart Prize in 1909 and a scholarship to study music formally for the first time at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. World War I put Toch’s career on hold; he resumed his musical career after the armistice, joining Paul Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, and others as the leading composers of the new German school of composition.

Toch fled Germany at the beginning of World War II, traveling through Europe and eventually settling in the United States in 1936. He became a citizen in 1940.

While in the United States, Toch composed frequently in the film genre. His musical style is rooted in the tradition of the German and Austrian Romantic movement of the 19th century. His work, Symphony No. 3 (Pulitzer Prize, 1956), is considered an important work in the composer’s repertoire.

Toch taught composition at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles from 1937 to 1948, and subsequently moved to Switzerland for eight years. After several concert tours in Europe, he returned to Los Angeles, where he died in 1964.

Works for Winds