Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Co-Robert Grayson

Second Advisor

Edith Killgore Kirpatrick


The German-born composer and conductor Felix Wolfes (1892-1971) left a substantial legacy of over two hundred inspired and finely crafted songs. These works have earned him a place among his self-proclaimed ancestors, Brahms, Wolf, Strauss, Mussorgsky, and his teachers, Reger and Pfitzner. Unfortunately, both the composer and his works remain virtually unknown today. Wolfes's output as a composer consists almost entirely of German lieder. His style is strongly rooted in the Romantic tradition of earlier lieder composers, but Wolfes did more than merely imitate his predecessors. While the majority of his output suggests a conservative post-tonal idiom, he frequently stretched the boundaries of tonality further through chromaticism and even ventured into atonality. Wolfes's greatest achievement was not, however, the development of a characteristic "Wolfes" style. His genius lay rather in his ability to create music that evolved directly from the poetry. It was in this way that he was able to accomplish a true melding of word and music, and to create a body of unique and individual works. The purpose of this monograph is to provide an introduction to Felix Wolfes and his songs. The paper is divided into three chapters, the first of which presents biographical information, including his family, education, and professional activity. Chapter Two begins with a brief discussion of general stylistic trends. This is followed by a detailed study of ten songs considered by the author to be some of the most appealing and accessible to both performer and audience. Chapter Three is an annotated catalogue of all 208 of Wolfes's lieder, both published and unpublished. Each entry contains the title, poet, date of composition, dedication, vocal range, initial tempo indication, publication information, length in measures, and an incipit.