Hugo Weisgall

Hugo Weisgall was an important composer of American song cycles and opera.

Photo: Hugo Weisgall, Theodore Presser Company

Print This Page




    Born in present day Ivančice, Moravia (then part of Austria-Hungary, later in his childhood Czechoslovakia), Hugo Weisgall immigrated to the United States with his family when he was eight. He came from a strong tradition of liturgical music–his father was a composer of synagogue music as well as a professional opera singer and cantor. Therefore, from boyhood, Weisgall was familiar with both standard Western vocal traditions as well as Jewish musical traditions.

    Weisgall became an naturalized American citizen in 1926. He studied at the Peabody Conservatory from 1927 to 1932 and began at that time to organize amateur orchestras and choirs. He also studied at the Curtis Institute and eventually earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, having written his dissertation “on primitivism in 17th-century German poetry.”

    A diplomatic individual with a great knowledge of languages, Weisgall was an ambassador for America and American music in Europe during World War II and in the years after the war. In 1947, he returned to the United States permanently, served on the faculties of several prestigious music schools on the East Coast and earning many awards.

    As a composer of art song, Weisgall has set the poetry of American poets such as Adelaide Crapsey, e. e. cummings, Amy Lowell, and Herman Melville.

    –Christie Finn

    Source: Bruce Saylor’s article in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

    Related Information



    Carolyn Heafner Sings American Songs

    (Ernst Bacon, Hugo Weisgall, Lee Hoiby and Amy Marcy Beach)


    I Hear America Singing

    (Ernst Bacon, Jean Berger, Paul Bowles, Henry T. Burleigh, Stephen Foster, Ernest Gold, Charles Griffes, Richard Hageman, Sergius Kagen, Charles Martin Loeffler, Edward MacDowell, Charles Naginski, John Jacob Niles, Hermann Reutter, Frédéric Louis Ritter, Ned Rorem, William Grant Still, Hugo Weisgall and Tennessee Williams)


    View recording

    Weisgall: Two Operas & Two Song Cycles

    (Hugo Weisgall)


    Paul Sperry Sings an American Sampler

    (Samuel Barber, Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, William Billings, Elliott Carter, Celius Dougherty, John Woods Duke, Stephen Foster, Charles Griffes, John Musto, Ned Rorem, May Swenson, Louise Talma, Hugo Weisgall and Kurt Weill)


    Gideon / Weisgall: Song Cycles

    (Miriam Gideon and Hugo Weisgall)


    Hugo Weisgall: Two Song Cycles

    (Hugo Weisgall)


    Weisgall: The Stronger; Fancies and Inventions

    (Hugo Weisgall)


    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.