Bruno Walter: The Early Years | Warner - Icon 6790262

Bruno Walter: The Early Years

Label: Warner - Icon

Cat No: 6790262

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 9

Release Date: 6th February 2012



Celebrated as an outstanding conductor in an era of great conducting, Bruno Walter favoured the Austro-German repertory, all well-represented in this collection. While he championed the works of Mahler and actively sought new music for much of his life, his fame lay in his exquisite recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn.

This collection includes 8CDs of his finest recordings and a new 60 minute audio documentary recounting the great conductor and aspects of his life.

Treating his players as colleagues, Walter drew a sensuous tone from the orchestra, employing rubato with consummate skill, juxtaposing fierce drama and warm lyricism. He sought to penetrate ‘to the core’ of a composition and, detesting ‘routine’ performances, continually endeavoured to present a piece ‘as if it were receiving its world première’.

Bruno Walter was born in Berlin on 15th September 1876 to a middle-class Jewish family named Schlesinger. He started his musical education aged 8 and made his first public appearance as a pianist the following year. He decided that he wanted to be a conductor following attendance at one of Hans von Bülow’s concerts in 1889 and a trip to Bayreuth in 1891.

His conducting debut was in Cologne, but later that year he moved to Hamburg as chorus director. It was here that he met Mahler whom he idolised and whose music became such a major part of his career. Mahler recommended him for the conducting position at the Breslau opera and it was now – since Schlesinger literally means Silesian and therefore very common in the city – he changed his name to Walter in 1896.

In 1900 he returned to Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden where among his colleagues were Richard Strauss and Karl Muck. The following year he accepted Mahler’s invitation to be his assistant at the Court Opera in Vienna. His reputation brought him numerous invitations, including to conduct Tristan und Isolde and Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers at Covent Garden in 1910. A few months after Mahler’s death in 1911, he conducted Das Lied von der Erde in Munich and Symphony No.9 in Vienna in 1912. He maintained his work throughout WW1 and subsequent years with a number of premieres, including two operas by Korngold.

In 1923 Walter had his first experience of America conducting in New York, Detroit, Minnesota and Boston. Engagements in Berlin and then Leipzig brought him back to Europe but the Nazis were making his life increasingly difficult. He left for Austria and made most of the recordings in this collection. He made frequent guest appearances in Amsterdam and Paris. He was in Paris at the time of the Anschluss and, although accepting France’s offer of citizenship, he set sail for America on 1st November 1939 and settled in California.

In America he was performing regularly with all the leading orchestras, and after peace was declared in 1945 he was able to return to Europe, becoming an important musical figure in the early years of the Edinburgh Festival as well as in Salzburg, Vienna and Munich. He died of a heart attack in his Beverly Hills home on 17th February 1962.

(60 minute audio documentary)

Bruno Walter stands in history as one of the few conductors who is almost unfailingly described as inspirational by those who performed with him. Often it has been said that he cast a magic spell over musicians, in a different way but to a similar extent as Wilhelm Furtwangler, Sir Thomas Beecham and, nearer our own time, Carlos Kleiber. But there was far more than just magic behind the acclaimed results he achieved, as is borne out by the contributors to this feature who, from their personal experiences, recall the mastery as well as the inspiration behind Bruno Walter’s music making.

There are memories from former members of the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and New York Philharmonic Orchestra, with recollections stretching as far back as 1929, and there is music by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mahler.

CD 1
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
[1]-[3] Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K466
Bruno Walter (piano)

[4]-[6] Symphony No.38 in D, K504 “Prague”
[7]-[10] Serenade No.13 in G, K525 “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: 64.57

CD 2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
[1] Overture “Le nozze di Figaro”, K492
British Symphony Orchestra

[2]-[5] Symphony No.38 in D, K504 “Prague”
BBC Symphony Orchestra

[6] Overture “La Clemenza di Tito”, K621
[7] Overture “Le finta giardiniera”, K196
[8]-[11]Symphony No.41 in C, K551 “Jupiter”
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: 63.51

CD 3
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
[1]-[14]Requiem in D minor, K626
Elisabeth Schumann (soprano), Kerstin Thorborg (contralto), Anton Dermota (tenor), Alexander Kipnis (bass)
Wiener Staatsopernchor

[15]-[17] 3 Deutsche Tänze, K605
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: 63.12

CD 4
Ludwig van Beethoven
[1]-[5] Symphony No.6 in F, Op. 68 “Pastoral”
Wiener Philharmoniker

Joseph Haydn
[6]-[9] Symphony No.92 in G, Hob.I.92 “Oxford”

Johann Strauss
[10] Die Fledermaus: Overture

Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris
Total Duration: 68.44

CD 5
Franz Schubert
[1]-[2] Symphony No.8 in B minor, D759 “Unfinished”

Richard Wagner
[3] Siegfried Idyll
Wiener Philharmoniker
[4] Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Act 1: Prelude
British Symphony Orchestra

Gustav Mahler
[5]-[9] Kindertotenlieder (Rückert)
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: (approx) 71.40

CD 6
Richard Wagner
Die Walküre
[1]-[13] Act I
[14]-[17] Act2, Scene 3
Lotte Lehmann (Sieglinde), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund), Emanuel List (Hunding), Ella Flesch (Brünnhilde), Alfred Jerger (Wotan)
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: (approx) 79.26

CD 7
Gustav Mahler
[1]-[6] Das Lied von der Erde (from “Die chinesiche Flöte”) (Bethge)
Kerstin Thorborg (contralto), Charles Kullmann (tenor)

- Rückert-Lieder
[7] Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
Kerstin Thorborg (contralto)

- Symphony No.5 in C# minor
[8] IV. Adagietto
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: (approx) 71.58

CD 8
Gustav Mahler
[1]-[4]Symphony No.9 in D major
Wiener Philharmoniker

Total Duration: 69.42

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