Popular musician in his day who was best known for applying abstract forms to fugues, operas, and symphonies. He was a firm believer in absolute music, or music that is not explicitly about anything and is non-representational.
He had a successful teaching career that culminated in his 1911 appointment as Hofkapellmeister in the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.
He produced numerous vocal works, Lieder, pieces for mixed-chorus, men's chorus, and female chorus, and choral works in fewer than three decades.
He was the cousin of fellow German composer Hans von Koessler.
He saw himself as being part of the tradition of Ludwig van Beethoven.