Józef Koffler (November 28, 1896 – 1944), was a Polish composer, music teacher, musicologist and musical columnist.
Born into a Polish-speaking Jewish family in Striy, Józef Koffler began to compose
at the age of twelve. Musicological studies at the University of Vienna were interrupted by his conscription to the Austrian army (1916–1918). In 1918, he volunteered for the Polish Army, probably took part in the Polish-Soviet War
in 1920 and was taken captive.
Koffler continued his Viennese studies under such personalities as Guido Adler, Egon Wellesz and Felix Weingartner, he made acquaintance with Alban Berg and corresponded with Schönberg. In 1923, Koffler gained his doctoral degree, and worked at theatres including the Burgtheater. He settled in Lvov in 1924, and from 1928 he taught harmony and atonal composition at the conservatory of the Polish Musical Society. Koffler published several articles, some of a polemic nature, in Polish newspapers and reviews, gave talks for Polish Radio and was an active promoter of Polish music.
In 1930 he was one of the founders of the Lvov section of the ISCM, and in 1931 he joined the board of the Association of Polish Composers in Warsaw.
In Poland, Koffler’s music was played mainly in Lvov, where sympathetic musicians described him as “the modernist composer par excellence”.
Unfortunately, only a limited number of his works have survived. After the Nazis entered Lvov in June 1941, the ordeal began for the composer, his wife and their small son Alan (probably born in England in 1938). They left Lvov in search of a hideout, and were probably killed in 1944. Theories concerning the circumstances and place of their death remain unconfirmed.
He was the first Polish composer living before the Second World War that applied the twelve tone composition technique (dodecaphony).
Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek PhD, Warsaw.