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Hugo Wolf

Wolf was born in Slovenj Gradec, part of a German-speaking enclave within Slovenia, to a Slovene mother (Katherina Orehovnik) and a Germanic father (Philipp Wolf). His family was originally named Vouks, but they changed the surname to the German form Wolf. Hugo Wolf is usually presented as an Austrian composer, since he rejected his provincial or peasant origin and spent most of his life in Vienna, becoming a representative of “New German” trend in lieder, a trend which followed from the expressive, chromatic, and dramatic innovations in the music of Wagner. As a child he was considered a prodigy. He suffered from depression, which interrupted his creative periods. In 1897 he composed his last music, succumbing at last to the mental illness which had plagued him for most of his adult life; he died in a mental hospital in Vienna. Wolf wrote hundreds of songs, three operas, incidental music, choral music, as well as some rarely-heard orchestral, chamber and piano music. His most famous instrumental piece is likely the Italian Serenade (1887), originally for string quartet, and later transcribed for orchestra.