Handel - Tamerlano
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Cat No: PH11029
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 5th May 2015
Ferdinand Leitner was born in Berlin, where he gave his first piano recital at the Bechstein Hall as a wunderkind at the age of eleven. In addition to his regular schooling, at fourteen Ferdinand Leitner was already also studying singing, composition (with Franz Schreker and others) and conducting at the famous Staatliche Hochschule für Musik.
Already a 'finished' pianist at sixteen, he learned his trade from masters like Bruno Walter, Fritz Busch, Hans Richter and Karl Muck (with whom he worked as rehearsal pianist in Bayreuth in 1929), gaining the experience which would later lead to him being dubbed the "singers' conductor" by all who worked with him. In 1931, at the age of nineteen, he obtained a post as conductor and composer at the Berlin State Theatre.
In 1945, after the war, Eugen Jochum secured him a conducting post at the Hamburg State Opera, and in 1946 he became opera director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. The following year marked the beginning of an extremely productive period for him in Stuttgart, where he directed the opera and the symphony concerts and in 1950 was appointed general music director. Awards like the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1959), the 'Commandeur in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau' from the Netherlands and the Hans Georg Nägeli Medal from Switzerland reflected his growing reputation.
Innumerable guest performances at home and abroad and some 300 commercial recordings underpinned his excellent reputation as a conductor who knew few, if any, boundaries. He co-founded the Ansbach Bach Festival in 1947, indefatigably championed the works of Carl Orff and presented numerous world and local premieres of works by contemporary composers. His authority as a Wagner conductor and intimate collaboration with the composer's grandson Wieland Wagner led to Stuttgart being called the 'Winter Bayreuth'. His son, Michael C Leitner, testifies to the attention he paid also to less familiar German Romantic composers like Heinrich Marschner, Otto Nicolai and Peter Cornelius.
Nevertheless, Leitner's lifelong relationship with Mozart remained at the core of his sense of artistic identity: "Mozart is the only composer whom I have loved since I was eight, and that love has endured. Every melody must be singable. Dynamics are always a question of taste and of the instrument. Moderation is in any case the right thing, but the freedom of the instruments should not be restricted."
Ferdinand Leitner, the great universal classical conductor, died in Forch in Switzerland on June 3, 1996.
- Franz Mazura (Tamerlano)
- Helen Donath (Asteria)
- Kieth Engen (Andronico)
- Raili Kostia (Irene)
- Kari Nurmela (Leone)
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