Walter, Bruno

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Walter, Bruno

Bruno Walter, 1876–1962, German-American conductor, b. Berlin as Bruno Walter Schlesinger. Walter studied at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After he had conducted in several German cities, Gustav Mahler appointed him (1901) assistant conductor of the Vienna State Opera, where he remained until 1912. Walter was musical director of the Munich Opera (1912–22) and of the Municipal Opera, Berlin (1925–29), and appeared at Covent Garden and the Salzburg Festival. He made his American debut in 1923. While conductor of the Gewandhaus Concerts in Leipzig (1929–33), he was forced by the Nazis to leave Germany. He returned to the Vienna Opera in 1935 but left in 1938, when the Nazis took over Austria. Walter became a permanent resident of the United States in 1939. He conducted the Metropolitan Opera, the NBC Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and other American ensembles, being permanent conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1947 to 1949. His performances had technical accuracy, controlled balance and inner details, expressive phrasing, rhetorical emphasis, and contrasting power and lyricism. Walter was renowned as an interpreter of the German and Austrian classics and was a friend and champion of Mahler. He wrote Gustav Mahler (tr. 1941), an autobiography, Theme and Variations (1946), and Of Music and Music-Making (1961).

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