Hans Rott was born on August 1, 1858 in Braunhirschengrund, a suburban parish of Vienna (today Vienna XV) as illegitimate son of the actor Carl Mathias Rott (real name Roth) and the singer and actress Maria Rosalia Lutz. After his parents had married his father legitimized him in 1863.
From 1874 to 1878 he studied at the Conservatoire for Music and Performing Arts of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna: piano with Leopold Landskron, organ with Anton Bruckner, harmony with Hermann Grädener and composition with Franz Krenn (together with Gustav Mahler and others).
1876 Rott, a member of the Viennese Academic Wagner Society, attended the first Bayreuth Festival. From 1876 to 1878 he was employed as organist at the Piaristen Church (Maria Treu) in Vienna with lodgings in the Piaristen Monastery. His rooms became the meeting point for numerous fellow students and friends, among them the musicians Rudolf Krzyzanowski, Gustav Mahler, Hugo Wolf, the philologist and archaeologist Friedrich Löwy (as from 1887 Löhr) as well as the scholar of German philology Joseph Seemüller.
Still during his musical studies Rott became an orphan in 1876. Anton Bruckner tried in vain to find a post as organist in St Florian resp. Klosterneuburg for his "favourite student". From 1878 on Rott made a living by giving private music lessons and he received financial support from his friends.
When in September 1880 he presented his First Symphony to Johannes Brahms, a member of the jury deciding on the grant of a state scholarship Rott had applied for, he met with a harsh rebuff by Bruckner's antipode. And yet another of his hopes was doomed: Court Opera Conductor Hans Richter, although showing an interest in a performance of the symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, was reluctant to commit himself.
In October 1880 chain of unfortunate accidents exerting a heavy psychic strain on Rott caused an already lurking insanity to break out. During a train ride to Mulhouse in the Alsace where he had accepted a position as music director and choir master he pointed a pistol at a fellow traveller to prevent him from lighting a cigar. The reason for his conduct he gave was that Brahms had had the carriage filled with dynamite.
In February 1881 Rott was transferred from the Psychiatric Hospital of the General Hospital in Vienna to the Provincial Lunatic Asylum of Lower Austria. The diagnosis was: insanity, hallucinatory persecution mania. He continued composing at the asylum, later on, however, he gradually developed a deep depression and destroyed some of his compositions. Following several attempts of suicide he finally died of tuberculosis on June 25, 1884 not yet 26 years old.
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