Wick, Otto (1885–1957)

By: Kevin E. Mooney

Type: Biography

Published: December 8, 2006

Updated: May 6, 2016

Otto Wick, composer, conductor, teacher, and arranger, was born in Krefeld, Germany, on July 8, 1885. Wick received his musical education in Germany at the conservatory in Krefeld and at the university in Kiel. In 1905 he came to America to study composition and conducting with Vassily Ilyich Safonoff, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

His professional life was centered in New York until July 1935, when he moved to San Antonio. From 1919 to 1921 he was the first conductor of the Manhattan Opera House, under the management of Mrs. Oscar Hammerstein. His compositions for the stage include Matasuntha, a music drama in three acts; The Moonmaid, a light opera; Alles für die Kunst (For Art's Sake), an operetta in one act; and The Lone Star (1935), an American folk opera in three acts composed for the Texas Centennial in 1936. Wick also held positions as conductor and arranger for the Individual Film Company with Paramount; conductor, composer, and arranger with the National Broadcasting Company, New York; and guest conductor with the New York Civic Orchestra. His great love of vocal music is evidenced by his role as conductor of various choral groups, including the Choral Society in Buffalo, New York; the Brooklyn Singers, and the New York Liederkranz Society; and, in San Antonio, the Beethoven–German Club Choir.

From 1937 until his death, Wick served as the musical conductor and general director of the San Antonio City-Wide Easter Sunrise Association. His works for orchestra include The Gulf of Mexico (1949), a symphonic poem inspired by William H. Prescott's Conquest of Mexico. Wick taught at the New York College of Music in New York City, where he received an honorary doctorate for excellence in music education (1933). In Texas, he was dean of music at the University of San Antonio (formerly San Antonio Female College) for four years and taught for three years at Trinity University.

In 1922 he married the soprano Elsa Diemer (1894–1993). They had three sons and one daughter. En route to a choral concert in Austin, Wick was stricken by a fatal cerebral hemorrhage and died in Kyle on November 19, 1957.

Kevin E. Mooney, Texas Centennial 1936: Music and Identity (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1998). Otto Wick Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, Festival–Institute at Round Top.


  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Peoples
  • Germans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kevin E. Mooney, “Wick, Otto,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wick-otto.

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December 8, 2006
May 6, 2016

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