Composer and violinist best known for his opera "Mathis der Maler" from 1938 and "Das Marienleben," his song cycle from 1923.
He studied composition, violin, and conducting at the Hoch'sche Konservatorium in Frankfurt. His early income came from playing in dance bands and musical-comedy groups.
He was publicly denounced as an "atonal noisemaker" by Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.
He emigrated from Germany to Switzerland in 1938 to escape the Nazis because his wife was partially Jewish.
His neoclassical style of music was heavily influenced by the contrapuntal language of Johann Sebastian Bach.