Old Dominion University Libraries

F. Ludwig Diehn
Composers Room

Diehn Fine & Performing Arts Bldg.
49th & Elkhorn Ave.
Norfolk, VA

Driving directions

Monday - Thursday

Exhibits and Events

About F. Ludwig Diehn

Touring the Diehn Composers Room

Policies & Procedures

Collection Development Policy


About F. Ludwig Diehn

Friedrich Ludwig Diehn was born of German parents on September 27, 1910, in Singapore. His father was general manager of the potash firm Behn, Meyer, & Co., and his mother was a concert pianist of international reputation. As a boy, Diehn lived in Dutch-governed Java where he was privately tutored. In 1920, he went to Holland, and then to Germany, where he attended a Gymnasium (high school and junior college) in Mecklenburg. As early as age 13, Ludwig was composing marches and later, intrigued by Wagner, wrote an "opera fragment" based on a Nordic saga which is not extant. In Germany, Ludwig studied music with private teachers such as Arthur Meissner, Otto Ruedinger, and Arno Rentsch. At age 22, he heard his first symphony played by the Dresden Philharmonic, in which his mother played the piano part. Later, Ludwig attended the Universities of Frankfurt, Munich, and Rostock. From the latter he received the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence. 

In 1937, Diehn left Germany because of the political climate and came to America where he worked in the international potash industry. During his early years in this country he worked in San Francisco, then moved to Washington, D.C., and settled finally in Norfolk. He became an American citizen in 1947. Diehn saw himself as a modern composer influenced by traditional classicism. "I use modern trends but stick basically to the principals of traditional classic technique," the composer has said. "I am not an arch-conservative. I don't believe you must write only major and minor chords. I use many 12-tone chords." 

Although during the first years of his adult life Diehn's composing was secondary to a career in the potash industry, the collapse of the industry after World War II changed Ludwig's primary focus to the thing he loved best – the composition of music. The music of F. Ludwig Diehn has been heard around the world – Vienna, Munich, Jamaica, Washington, D.C., Jacksonville, Florida, Middleton, Ohio, and of course Norfolk, Virginia. Friedrich Ludwig Diehn died on April 16, 1995 at the age of 84.