(b Münster, 28 Jan 1832; d Braunfels, 7 Sept 1902). German conductor, pianist and composer, father of Ludwig Wüllner. From an early age he studied the violin and the piano and composed music. His father was a distinguished philologist who was director of the Düsseldorf Gymnasium; when he died in 1842 the family moved to Münster, where Franz studied the piano and composition with Carl Arnold; from 1846 to 1850 he studied with Anton Schindler in Münster and Frankfurt. From 1850 to 1854 he went on concert tours, playing Beethoven's late sonatas, and completed his studies, visiting Berlin, Brussels, Cologne and Leipzig and meeting many of the important musicians of his day. A lifelong friendship linked him with Brahms from 1853. From 1856 he taught the piano at the music school in Munich before being made music director of Aachen in 1858. He returned to Munich in 1865 as court music director of the church choir (‘Vokalkapelle’), and from 1867 he was on the staff of the music school, where he directed the choral and orchestral classes. He became principal Kapellmeister of the court opera in 1871, after his success as conductor of the first performances of Das Rheingold (1869) and Die Walküre (1870). In 1877 he succeeded Julius Rietz as director of the Dresden Conservatory. Because of increasing difficulties and intrigues, which had forced him to relinquish his direction of the opera to Ernst von Schuch and to supervise the church music and share the direction of court concerts, he left Dresden in 1883 to conduct concerts of the Berlin PO. In 1884 he succeeded Ferdinand Hiller as director of the Cologne Conservatory and conductor of the Gürzenich concerts. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Munich in 1877.
Although Wüllner is chiefly remembered as a conductor his musical achievements are many-faceted. His compositions – most of them unpublished – show that Wüllner was a prominent representative of the Mendelssohn tradition and Berlin academicism. They include the cantata Heinrich der Finkler, works for soloists and orchestra such as Die Flucht der heiligen Familie, sacred and secular choral music, songs, chamber music and piano pieces. He also composed a recitative arrangement of the dialogue of Weber’s Oberon for the 1881 production in Vienna, and published several volumes of choral settings of German folksongs. His Chorübungen der Münchener Musikschule (Munich, 1876) appeared in several editions and was translated into English in 1882.
D.Kämper: Franz Wüllner: Leben, Wirken und kompositorisches Schaffen (Cologne, 1963) [with work-list]
D.Kämper, ed.: Richard Strauss und Franz Wüllner im Briefwechsel (Cologne, 1963)
D.Kämper: ‘Über die Uraufführung von Rheingold und Walküre’, Richard Wagner: Werk und Wirkung (Regensburg, 1971), 65–74
GAYNOR G. JONES/BERND WIECHERT
(b Münster, 19 Aug 1858; d Kiel, 19 March 1938). German baritone, reciter and actor, son of Franz Wüllner. He studied the violin and the piano at an early age and sang at the Maximilian Gymnasium in Munich. From 1876 to 1880 he studied German philology at the universities of Munich and Berlin and in 1881 he completed his dissertation, Das hrabanische Glossar und die ältesten bayrischen Sprachdenkmäler, at the University of Strasbourg. After further study in Berlin, he lectured at the Münster Academy and performed as a violinist, singer and reciter. He left Münster in 1887 for extended studies in singing (with Benno Stolzenberg), composition and piano at the conservatory in Cologne, where he also became a choir conductor. After two years he left Cologne for Meiningen; there he joined the court theatre company as an actor. Several successful concerts in Berlin in 1895–6 established Wüllner's reputation as a lieder singer. He was also very successful in operatic parts, particularly in the title role of Wagner's Tannhäuser. In 1900 he studied singing with Georg Armin in Leipzig and his voice production greatly improved (he had suffered from a speech impediment); he then embarked on a singing tour of England, the Netherlands, France, Scandinavia and Russia. His tours of the USA in 1908 and 1909–10 were highly successful; during the latter he appeared as a soloist with Mahler in New York and as a singer and reciter at the Manhattan Opera.
Called by his countrymen the ‘Kammersänger des deutschen Volkes’, Wüllner was a musician of remarkable versatility; during World War I he acted and recited and occasionally played the violin and conducted orchestral concerts. As a singer and reciter he was admired for the evocative intensity of his performances, and his success on the stage was due largely to his powers of declamation and inflection. Wüllner's speaking voice is preserved in a recording of some of his recitations.
F.Ludwig: Ludwig Wüllner: sein Leben und seine Kunst (Leipzig, 1931)
D.Kämper: Franz Wüllner: Leben, Wirken und kompositorisches Schaffen (Cologne, 1963)
GAYNOR G. JONES/BERND WIECHERT
(b Bandung, Java, 16 Nov 1958). Indonesian composer, active in the Netherlands. At the age of ten she moved with her family to the Netherlands. Wullur finished her piano studies at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam in 1971; in 1984 she returned there to study composition with Leeuw. In 1988 she undertook further composition studies with Andriessen and Loevendie at the conservatory in The Hague. Wullur's works often use the aesthetics and sound elements of gamelan music, for example in Ganantara (1988) for gamelan ensemble. She has made great efforts to discover the individual character of each gamelan instrument, blending her background in Western classical composition techniques with her experience of playing gamelan music. In 1985 Wullur set up Irama, a Balinese gamelan ensemble which performs wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre). Since commissioning a gamelan tuned to a chromatic scale in 1995, she has written many works for chromatic gamelan ensemble including Lingkaran (1995) with percussion, and Ballade and Tapestry (1996) with string quartet. Settled in the Netherlands, she returns periodically to Indonesia to study traditional Javanese and Sundanese music and to perform her compositions.