Hans Koessler

by M. Sparks

We may not realize it, but a great deal of our classical music heritage is owed to Hans Koessler (1853-1926). If you suddenly feel disheartened by a lack of awareness of this great composer, fear not. Certainly, a few household names are Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly, or Ernst von Dohnanyi. If you know and love these names like we do here at Masterpiece Finder, then you are closer to Hans Koessler than you realize.

Hans Koessler, a composer and performer originating from upper Bavaria, was primarily a great pedagogue. He taught for nearly thirty years at the Music Academy of Budapest where he held the position of Professor of Organ, Composition and Choral direction from the early 1880’s until 1908. Among his students were the great names mentioned above: Bartok, Kodaly, and Dohnanyi. In his time, he was honored as one of the finest teachers of composition in Austria-Hungary.


To be so indebted to Koessler for his great teaching, it is a shame that we do not have a better remembrance of his works. He primarily composed opera and vocal music, but he also made several rich contributions to string chamber music. Unfortunately, his work was often published without opus number and never catalogued. Luckily, one of our favorites here at Masterpiece Finder, his Trio-Suite for Violin, Viola and Piano, has been rediscovered. It was composed late in his life (1919), and was dedicated to his friend and pupil, Ernst von Dohnanyi.