Paul August von Klenau (11 February 1883 in Copenhagen – 31 August 1946 in Copenhagen) was a Danish-born composer who worked primarily in Germany and Austria. Klenau was born in Copenhagen, where he studied under Otto Malling. Already as a young man he left his native country to study and work in Germany and Austria, among others with Max Bruch, Ludwig Thuille and Max von Schillings. His first, Bruckner-influenced symphony was premiered successfully in 1908 at a Tonkünstlerfest in Munich. Within just five years the three additional large-scale symphonies followed. Later influences include French music, Richard Strauss, and Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. Klenau was among Arnold Schoenberg's advocates during the 1920s, and Schoenberg attended a concert of his music conducted by Klenau in 1923 in Freiburg. He also belonged to Alban Berg's circle of friends.
Klenau never achieved full recognition as a composer in Denmark, but he sat in a number of important conductor positions. In 1912, he led the concerts of the Bach Society Frankfurt, but already the following year he returned to the conductor position at the Freiburg opera. He took up permanent residence in Bavaria, where he owned a country house, but as a conductor he traveled extensively, both in Germany and the United Kingdom. His summers were spent in Denmark. In 1922, he became a choral conductor at the Vienna Konzerthausgesellschaft, where he served until 1930, the last six years as Konzertdirektor.
After the first orchestral period that lasted until around the outbreak of the First World War, Klenau shifted his focus to musical drama. From 1913 to 1940, he wrote seven operas (not counting the early opera-oratorio Sulamith). The Nordic-mythological opera Kjartan und Gudrun (1918, rev. 1924) was premiered by Wilhelm Furtwängler in Mannheim. This work was followed in 1926 by the comic opera Die Lästerschule (after Sheridan's The School for Scandal). Between 1933 and 1939, Klenau composed three major twelve-tone operas: Michael Kohlhaas (after Kleist), Rembrandt van Rijn and Elisabeth von England. His last opera, Elisabeth von England was performed in 1941 at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen as (probably) its first twelve-tone opera ever; it was also among the few works by Klenau to be performed in his native Denmark during his lifetime.
Klenau lived in Vienna until deafness prevented him from continuing his conducting career. In 1940 he returned to Copenhagen, where he remained until his death in 1946, aged 63. In the years around 1940, he returned to orchestral music with his three late symphonies: Triptikon (No. 5, 1939), the Nordische Symphonie (No. 6, 1940) and the Sturmsymphonie (No. 7, 1941). These works were written in a much more restrained style than his earlier symphonies. He also came to write an 8th symphony. A 9th Symphony, whose existence had remained unknown for decades, was recovered by Klenau's heirs in 2005. The work, written for large orchestra, chorus and soloists, has been described as 'the most comprehensive symphony ever written by a Dane' Text source : Wikipedia (Hide extended text) ... (Read all)