Josef Schelb was born on 14 March 1894 in Krozingen (Germany). His musical talents were nurtured by composer Hans Huber in Bâle, who was his first teacher. After graduating from school Josef Schelb studied music at the Conservatory in Geneva under Bernhard Stavenhagen (piano) and Otto Barblan (counterpoint). He finished his studies in 1914 with the "Diplôme de Virtuosité avec Distinction".
Due to his language skills (he could speak French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese in addition to his mother tongue German) Josef Schelb was drafted for alternative military service during World War I and had to work in a monitoring post station.
After World War I Josef Schelb toured extensively as a concert pianist, worked as a music teacher and started to compose. In 1924 he became lecturer at the Badisches Konservatorium, in 1932 he was named professor. He remained in this position (with a short interruption due to World War II) until his retirement in 1958. Beside his teaching duties Josef Schelb also continued to perform and he was for example the piano partner of the famous violinist Joan Manen in the late 1920s.
Josef Schelb continued to compose after his retirement and reveiced the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his life's work in 1969. Josef Schelb died on 8 February 1977 in Freiburg i.B.
Josef Schelb composed for all genres with an emphasis on songs as his wife Lotte Schelb was a soprano singer. But there are also 11 symphonies, several other symphonic works, concertos, operas, ballets and chamber music. Most of these compositions date from the time after World War II as warplanes bombed the Conservatory in Karlsruhe on 2 September 1942 and destroyed all the works by Josef Schelb located there. Only the few compositions survived that were at other places by chance at that time.
The Violin concerto dates from November 1930 and is one of the very few compositions that survived the air raid in 1942. The work was premiered in 1931, but I could not find information about the performers. The original manuscript is archived – as part of the whole musical estate of Josef Schelb – at the Badische Landesbibliothek.
Parts available on request (send me a message via the contact page)
The snippet below is a computer realisation of the beginning of the first movement.