Max Kowalski was born on 10 August 1882 in Kowal (at that time Russia, now Poland), but the family moved to Frankfurt am Main in Germany just a year after his birth. After school he began to study law, but also voice (under Alexander Heinemann) and composition (under Bernhard Sekles). Max Kowalski then worked as a lawyer and was an authority on copyright. For example he represented Arnold Schoenberg in an action against the Frankfurt opera house in 1930. Beside that he composed several song cycles which were published and widely performed in Germany by renowned singers like Heinrich Schlusnus, Paul Bender or Heinrich Rehkemper. Due to his Jewish faith, Max Kowalski was imprisoned in a concentration camp in 1938, but released in 1939 and immediately emigrated to London. There he made a living from working as a piano tuner and voice teacher. Max Kowalski died on 4 June 1956 in London.
Beside 2 early piano pieces Max Kowalski only composed songs. All the works he composed before the Nazi regime were published through Simrock, Leuckart or Zimmermann, all compositions from his time in London remained unpublished.
In my possession is an autograph manuscript of "Ihre Locken, for voice and piano" from 1947. Max Kowalski always composed song cycles, therefore the song "Ihre Locken" seems to be unusual as it stands alone. The manuscript is dated 10 February 1947 and consists of only 22 measures. The text was originally written by Nâbi (1642-1712), a Kurdish poet and translated into German by Hans Bethge (1876-1946). The autograph also bears a handwritten dedication to the famous German bass-baritone Hans Hotter and is dated "London, 13 April 1947: Ich habe mich aufrichtig gefreut, Herrn Hans Hotter hier zu sehen und zu hören - einen wirklichen Künstler und einen lieben Menschen. Ich bitte ihn, mich nicht zu vergessen." (I was truly delighted to meet and to listen to Mr Hans Hotter here - a true artist and a dear person. I beg him to remember me).
If you are interested in other works by Kowalski, you will find scores recently published by Schott and Classical Vocal Reprints as well as recordings by Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone) on Bridge Records, Melinda Paulsen (mezzosoprano) on Zuk Records and Suzi More (soprano) on CDBaby.