Aus der Neuen Welt: Otto Dresel's New York lieder

David Francis Urrows

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The composer-pianist Otto Dresel (1826-90), studied with Liszt, Schumann, and Mendelssohn and emigrated to the United States in 1848. Dresel came to the New World with talent, energy, and influential recommendations. Within a week of his arrival he had performed the Mendelssohn G minor piano concerto in public, his chamber music and songs were later to be played and sung by the city's leading performers, and a selection of his songs was published by his co-émigré, William Scharfenberg. Yet his three years in New York were ultimately a failure, personally and professionally. Disappointed in New York, he eventually moved to Boston, where as an influential pianist and composer he helped to shape American tastes for the canon of European Music. The traces of Dresel's brief New York years lie in the works he composed there: German Lieder, a few fascinating settings of English poetry, and several instrumental works. This paper examines his New York vocal compositions as well as how his presence in the midst of a highly intellectual German-American community - which included William Scharfenberg, the publisher and impresario Hermann Saroni, the writer and linguist Therese Albertine Luise von Jacob Robinson (known as Talvj) - influenced his musical choices. His songs reflect, in both their literary and musical dimensions, the émigré experience as well as Dresel's own personal successes and failures, and they continue to speak to us in an autobiographical manner even today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-216
Number of pages13
JournalFontes Artis Musicae
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Music
  • Library and Information Sciences


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