Wilhelm Petersen

Wilhelm Petersen (1890-1957)

(b Athens, Mar. 15, 1890; d Darmstadt, Dec. 18, 1957). German composer. During his years of studies in Munich (composition with Friedrich Klose and Rudolf Louis, conducting with Felix Mottl), he established close association with the circle of poets around Stefan George and Karl Wolfskehl. He worked as a theater conductor, and from 1913 to 1914 he served in Lübeck as an assistant conductor under Wilhelm Furtwängler. After the successful premieres of his first two symphonies in the early 1920’s, Petersen became well-known in Germany, winning the Georg-Büchner Prize from the state of Hesse in 1926. His academic posts include an assistant professorship (Docent) at the “Akademie für Tonkunst” in Darmstadt and professorships at the “Hochschule für Musik” in Mannheim and in Heidelberg. His Grosse Messe op. 27 was premiered in 1930 under the direction of Karl Böhm, and his opera Der Goldne Topf was premiered in 1941; both took place in Darmstadt. In addition to numerous other large-scale orchestral compositions, he has also written much chamber and vocal music. He was highly regarded in Darmstadt as a musician and pedagogue. In 1972 a Wilhelm Petersen Society was founded to memorialize his work.

See also:
Wolfgang Mechsner’s biographical sketch of Petersen, with timeline and work listing, on Thiasos publisher’s web site (in German).