Austrian-born British composer and musicologist. He taught at Vienna University 1913–38, specializing in the history of Byzantine, Renaissance, and modern music. He moved to England in 1938 and lectured at Oxford from 1943. His compositions include operas such as Alkestis (1924); symphonies, notably the Fifth (1957); ballet music; and a series of string quartets.
Wellesz studied with Schoenberg and Bruno Walter in Vienna, and also musicology with Guido Adler at the university there, receiving a PhD in 1908. In 1913 he became a lecturer in music history in Vienna and was professor 1930–38.
He edited and wrote books on Byzantine music, and published works on Schoenberg, Cavalli and the Venetian opera, and the modern orchestra. In 1932 he received an honorary PhD from Oxford University and in 1938 he settled there, becoming a lecturer in 1943 and Reader 1948–56. He was a member of the editorial board of the New Oxford History of Music and editor of volume I and one of the editions of Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae. His books include A History of Byzantine Music and Eastern Elements in Western Chant.
WorksOperaAlkestis (Hofmannsthal, 1924) and Die Bacchantinnen (after Euripides, 1931), Incognita (on Congreve's story, 1951).
Vocal and orchestra nine symphonies (1945–71), symphonic suite Prosperos Beschwörungen (after Shakespeare's Tempest, 1938), violin concerto; three Masses.
Chamber and instrumentalThe Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo (G M Hopkins) for soprano, clarinet, viola, cello and piano (1944); nine string quartets (1911–66); octet; solo sonatas for violin, cello, oboe, clarinet; piano pieces; songs.