Jensen, Adolf


German composer; noted for his songs, and best known in America for his piano etudes. He was born of a musical family in Konigsberg, and was to a great degree a selfmade musician, having only two years of training under Marpurg and Ehlert, after studying for a short time with his father and then under Sobelewski and Kohler. He was a passionate admirer of Schumann, and the desire to study under that master led to a journey to Russia to earn money by  teaching. When he returned Schumann was dead, and Jensen had to accept the position of chapelmaster in Posen. He soon went to Copenhagen, where he was intimately associated with Niels Gade. In 1860 he went back to Konigsberg and devoted himself to composition. In 1866 he went to Berlin to teach in Tausig's School, but was compelled by poor health to go to Dresden, from there to Graz and other cities in southern Germany, finally to Baden-Baden. He was a gifted song composer. In rank he approaches very near to Schumann. His vocal compositions number about one hundred and sixty. Among these are Nonnengesang (The Chorus of Nuns), with horn, harp and piano accompaniment; Brautlied; the cantatas, Jephtha's Daughter, and The Journey to Emmaus; and The Songcycles, Gaudeamus and Dolorosa, which show the influence of Wagner. His best known songs are O Press thy Cheek against my Cheek; Murmuring Breezes of Scented Air; the Six Love Songs, Liebeslieder; and Art Sleeping, my Maiden? His other cantatas, The Feast of Adonis, given by the London Musical Society, and Donald Caird ist weider da, from Scott, are also noteworthy. While at Graz he composed thirty English songs, written for poems by Burns, Cunningham, Mrs. Hemans, Moore and Tennyson. He left an unfinished opera, Turandot, which was completed by Kienzl. Essentially a song-writer, Jensen's piano compositions partake of the song character. His Erotikon is sometimes considered his best piano composition. Among other piano compositions are two books, called Wanderbilder; three Idylls; Inner Voices; Lebensbilder; and Wedding Music. He further wrote a concert overture in E, and Geistliches Tonstück, a sacred orchestral work. Although Jensen was greatly influenced by Schumann and later by Wagner, he nevertheless preserved his originality.

Arnold Niggli, of Berlin, published a life of Jensen in 1900.