Erwin Schulhoff is amongst the composers who have fallen into oblivion, and yet played an important role in the history of music. Dvorak already noticed him when he was a young boy, because of his musical talent and interest in everything new.
Schulhoff was one of the first European composers to find inspiration in jazz. He mainly made use of harmonic and rhythmic elements and dances like the foxtrot, charleston and shimmy. After the First World War, he also embraced the influence of Dadaism and composed a few pieces with absurd elements, such as In futurum, which consists entirely of rests.
In the 1930s, Schulhoff became a sympathizer of communism under influence of his friends, as a result of which he was not permitted to perform in Germany. Due to his Jewish descent and radical politic interests his music became labeled as ‘Entartete Musik’. His communist sympathies also brought him trouble in Czechoslovakia, were he had to work under a pseudonym after the invasion of the Nazis. In 1941, the Soviet Union approved his petition for citizenship, but he was arrested and deported to a concentration camp before he could leave Czechoslovakia.
Schulhoff was admired by his acquaintances, and recognized as a promising, gifted talent. As a pianist he was known as a virtuoso with brilliant technique and a strong touch.