Born in Coburg (Germany) in 1835 and reared in the tradition of the German protestant household of the clergy and educated in the "humanist" secondary school of  his native town, Draeseke was also shaped by impressions which the ducal court theater of the small town that was the duke's seat and that was open to the wisdom of the world conveyed to him. Further  educated at the Leipzig conservatory by Richter, Hauptmann and Rietz, a Lohengrin performance at Weimar under Franz Liszt turned into a decisive experience for the young Draeseke. As the most fervent  disciple of the so-called Neo-Germanic school he took a stand as an author in favour of Liszt's symphonic poetry. Draeseke maintained a close friendship with Hans von Blow. His most influential role models,  Wagner und Liszt, held the young dare-devil in high esteem and promoted him accordingly. 

His vehement commitment toward the new ideas, of course also demanded - commensurate with his character and personality - that he pursue his emancipation from his role models  with an equal sense of purpose while concurrently allowing the emergence of conservatism (in the best sense of the word) within him in order to preserve the attained progress. Draeseke's strong physiognomy and his bold  spirit, characteristics which were reflected in his works early on, earned him the nickname of "giant" which Liszt bestowed on him. Accordingly, in his later music predominantly rough, voluminous features are  found but also mildness and softness ! He took and used the stylistic elements generated by the Neo-Germanic movement in music endeavouring to amalgamate them with classical elements in his own way. To accuse Draeseke  of heresy would turn things uside down. To consolidate that which had been achieved and to continue it logically, on the other hand, was his actual concern which he was able to prove in the form of his impressive  complete works through all musical genres. As a composer of grand choral forms Draeseke was among the most impressive personages of the second half of the past century. With his oratorio Christ he left something to  posterity that lies like an erratic block in the musical landscape - admired by many, hardly understood - only performed twice so far in its totality !

(based on an article written by Udo-Rainer Follert)