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Michael Zeno Diemer

Michael Zeno Diemer was born on 8 February 1867 in Munich (Germany). He studied fine arts at the academy in Munich under Gabriel Hackl and Alexander von Liezen-Mayer.

Michael Zeno Diemer was immediately successful with his paintings of battle ships, battle scenes and landscapes of the Alps. In 1894 he received the order to create a large panoramic painting of the battles at Bergisel in Innsbruck. He created this 1000 m2 painting within six months.

Michael Zeno Diemer is today best known for this panoramic painting, but also his normal sized paintings still sell well in the four-figure Euro range.
Michael Zeno Diemer died on 28 February 1939 in Oberammergau (Germany).


Many biographies of Michael Zeno Diemer also mention that he was a musician and composer, but nothing more. But in the important book "Michael Zeno Diemer 1867-1939 : Landschaft, Historie, Technik" (published in 2014 by Deutscher Kunstverlag) the author Constanze Werner finally provides a detailed biography that also includes information about the musical education and the creations of Michael Zeno Diemer as a composer. I would like to give a short roundup of this text.


The composer Michael Zeno Diemer


Michael Zeno Diemer was born in Munich and spent his complete childhood there but the rest of his family - grandparents, uncles and aunts - lived in Oberammergau, a town that is known world wide for its tradition of staging a monumental Passion Play every ten years. So music was an important part of the Diemer family due to this reason and so also Michael Zeno Diemer received an early musical education. He learned to play the violin and sang in the children's choir of the St. Boniface's Abbey in Munich.


In 1881 the family of Michael Zeno Diemer moved from Munich to Oberammergau and there he learned to play the organ and could serve as organist for the church music if requested. He did this not only during his childhood but throughout his lifetime whenever it was possible. And also composed masses for liturgical services or other occasions. For example Michael Zeno Diemer composed a Hymnus for organ and orchestra at the age of 17 on the occasion of the inauguration of the new organ.


In Oberammergau it is common practice to stage plays and singspiele in the years without the Passion Play and Michael Zeno Diemer created such plays once in a while throughout his lifetime. For example at the age of 16 he composed a singspiel for children called "Zauberamsel" (magic blackbird) on an own text.


During his studies at the academy of fine arts in Munich he earned an extra income by giving music lessons and piano performances. He also founded a brass ensemble, the "Akademische Blechmusik", in which he played the tenor saxhorn and for which he composed own arrangements.


Michael Zeno Diemer was also especially interested in the life and the works of Rochus Dedler, the composer of the music for the Passion Play in Oberammergau. He tried to reconstruct the original composition by Dedler, which is partly lost and collected his autograph manuscripts. Of course Michael Zeno Diemer also performed regularly in the orchestra of the Passion Play, at last in 1934 on the contrabass.


known compositions:

  • singspiel "Zauberamsel"
  • singspiel "Die schwarze Sau"
  • singspiel "Der Meineidbauer"
  • singspiel "Konradin"
  • music for the play "Das Sternlied"
  • Hymnus for organ and orchestra

Largo for string orchestra


I am in possession of an autograph music manuscript by Michael Zeno Diemer. The composition is called "Largo für 9-stimmiges Streichorchester" and was finished - according ot the manuscript - on 9 January 1910. The full score is accompanied by manuscripts for all parts, but I could not find any information of a performance nor a publication of this work.


Below one can find the full score of the Largo:

PDF-Dokument [144.5 KB]
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© Tobias Broeker