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Hans Rott
Birth: Aug. 1, 1858
Vienna (Wien), Austria
Death: Jun. 25, 1884, Austria

Composer. One of the great "might-have-beens" of 19th Century music, he was a favorite student of Anton Bruckner and a notable influence on Gustav Mahler. His fame rests on his Symphony in E Major (1880) and on his brief, tragic life. Hans Carl Maria Rott was born in Vienna, the out of wedlock son of comic actor Karl Rott and a teenaged operetta singer (the couple married in 1862). Rott's mother died when he was 14. In 1874, the year he enrolled at the Vienna Conservatory, his father was crippled in a stage accident; his death two years later left Rott destitute and with a younger half-brother to support. Because of his brilliance as a student he was allowed to continue studying at the Conservatory for free, while Bruckner helped get him a position as organist of Vienna's Piaristen Church (1876 to 1878). Rott excelled at composition and the piano, and graduated from Bruckner's organ class with honors in 1877. For a time he was friendly with fellow students Mahler and Hugo Wolf, and showed them his music. Mahler in particular was impressed. In 1878 Rott submitted the first movement of his Symphony in E Major as a graduation exercise; the jury scoffed at it, causing Bruckner (in a rare fit of temper) to shout, "Do not laugh, gentlemen, one day you will hear great things from this young man!" Rott was ill-equipped to handle such vicissitudes. The deaths of his parents, and the subsequent shock of discovering his illegitimate birth, left him emotionally fragile. When he was falsely suspected of stealing a score from the Piaristen library, he took it as a personal betrayal and quit his post there in protest. From then on he barely earned enough to eat by giving piano lessons. As he reached adulthood he was tormented by feelings of isolation and self-doubt, made worse by a hopeless love affair and his inability to find employment as a musician in Vienna. Pecuniary circumstances finally compelled him to accept a music master's job in provincial Mulhausen, Germany, even though he dreaded leaving his hometown. Privately he expressed fears he was losing his mind. But he persevered with his ambitious Symphony. In September 1880 he played it for one of his idols, Johannes Brahms, who sat on a three-man committee that awarded government grants to promising young composers. He hoped winning the stipend would enable him to remain in Vienna. Instead he got caught up in the vicious musical politics of the time. Brahms was suspicious of Bruckner's students because he and Bruckner stood on opposing sides in the debate over Richard Wagner's music, and when he heard references to his own First Symphony in Rott's work, he thought he was being ridiculed. Brahms accused him of plagiarism, told him that his Symphony was worthless and that he should give up music. This harsh judgement was devastating for Rott, and along with a failed attempt to interest conductor Hans Richter in the piece, combined to drive him over the edge. On October 21, 1880, Rott bid farewell to his friends and set out by train for Mulhausen. He never reached his destination. On the second day of the journey he began raving that Brahms had filled the train with dynamite, and pulled a gun on a passenger who tried to light a cigar. He was brought back to Vienna in a straitjacket. Following several weeks of evaluation at the City General Hospital - the diagnosis was "hallucinatory insanity and persecution mania" - Rott was committed to the Lower Austrian State Insane Asylum in February 1881. It was there that he learned, too late, that he had been awarded the state grant after all. (Brahms evidently regretted his outburst). He continued to write music, only to use the manuscripts as toilet paper, saying, "This is what human works are worth". He died of tuberculosis at 25. At his funeral Bruckner wept openly and was heard blaming Brahms for his pupil's demise. He was buried at the Zentralfriedhof, in an unmarked temporary grave that was later recycled. Rott left about 25 compositions in a performable state. Most are student efforts and show him grappling with the influences of Wagner, Bruckner, Brahms, and Schumann. His Symphony is a work of outstanding promise, seriously flawed in places but studded with breathtaking moments. Re-examining the score in 1900, Mahler famously declared, "What music has lost in him cannot be estimated...he was the founder of the New Symphony as I see it. To be sure, what he wanted is not quite what he achieved. But I know where he aims". Mahler quoted from the E Major in some of his later symphonies, but refused to use his influence as a conductor to have it performed. Rott remained a musicological footnote until 1989, when the Symphony in E Major was finally given its World Premiere in Cincinnati. Since then Rott has been the subject of a biography and some of his other surviving pieces have been performed and recorded, including the Symphony for String Orchestra (1875), "Pater Noster" (1876), Orchestral Prelude in E Major (1876), "Prelude to 'Julius Caesar'" (1877), String Quartet in C Minor (1880), and "Pastoral Prelude" for Orchestra (1880). In March 2004, the International Hans Rott Society dedicated a commemorative plaque at the composer's former gravesite. The bitter epitaph was penned by Rott himself on the brink of madness: "May you enjoy the peace here which had been snatched from you too soon in life". (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
Wien Stadt
Vienna (Wien), Austria
Plot: Group 23, Row 2, Grave 59. Commemorative plaque at his former gravesite, now occupied by the Schwarz-Sahora family plot
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Jun 26, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11241405
Hans Rott
Added by: Bobb Edwards
Hans Rott
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Hans Rott
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