Dohnanyi, Ernst von


A modern European composer, whose works show decided individuality and give promise of still greater things to come. He is also a pianist of rare ability, ranking with the finest performers in Europe. Dohnanyi is a Hungarian by birth, haying been born at Pressburg, but is almost wholly Teutonic in temperament. His father, who was professor of mathematics and physics at the Gymnasium of his native town, was a good celloplayer and an all-around musician, who encouraged his son's fondness for music in every way. The younger Dohnanyi began when very young to compose, his first composition being written when he was only seven years of age, when he chose for a Christmas gift a sheet of music paper. After a period of study under Carl Forstner, organist of the cathedral at Pressburg, Dohnanyi decided to adopt a musical career. He studied composition for a short time at the Royal Hungarian Academy of Music under Hans Koessler and later was a pupil of Stephen Thoman in piano. He completed his piano study under Eugen D'Albert. Von Dohnanyi won a royal prize with the overture, Zrinyi, and the King's prize at Budapest in 1894, with a Symphony in F, which is a work of great value and which earned for him the respect and admiration of the entire musical world. In 1898 he won the prize offered by Herr Bosendorfer, the great pianomaker, in memory of Hans von Bülow for the best piano concerto.

Dohnanyi visited the United States in 1899, and in a season when Hambourg, de Pachmann and other pianists noted for their technique, appeared here, he was heard several times and held his own with them. Of recent years he has devoted .himself almost wholly to composition, and as one writer has said, "Wants to be taken as a composer who plays the piano and not as a pianist who occasionally writes a piece of music." He has played the Beethoven G major concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, under Hans Richter and at one of Richter's Philharmonic concerts in London and at numerous recitals.   While in Boston, Dohnanyi played his pianoforte concerto at a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert, and it was declared to be remarkable in conception as well as in workmanship.   He was, in the early years of his career, a strong admirer of Schumann, but at the present time, is said to be a still more ardent devotee of Brahms and his music. Dohnanyi's works include, beside those already mentioned, four rhapsodies; five clavierstuck; a quintet; a serenade; piano concerto; variations for the piano; and other works. His piano concerto and symphony in D minor have been especially praised. Of Dohnanyj's playing, one writer says: "It is vigorous and manly, although at times also tender, where that quality is required. In a word, he plays the piano as a sound and sane musician, with much dexterity and beauty." His compositions show great originality of idea, and a decided leaning toward classical forms.