Magazine article Musical Times

In Memoriam: Georg Tintner

Magazine article Musical Times

In Memoriam: Georg Tintner

Article excerpt

Georg Tintner's story, a tale of undervalued talent and late-flowering success, is in its way emblematic of this century now almost drawn to its close. Though his career was crowned by the triumph of the symphonic cycle of his beloved Bruckner, recently recorded on the budget Naxos label, for years before that turning-point his reputation had remained in the shadows cast by other names, despite a distinguished career that had begun in pre-war Vienna with conducting studies under Felix Weingartner.

Vienna was Tintner's birthplace; and while Weingartner's tuition, and composition studies with the lieder composer Joseph Marx Ca very bad teacher, but he wrote beautiful songs') at the Vienna State Academy was crucial to his development, the most important formative experience of his life had occurred earlier. Aged nine, he had joined the Vienna Boys' Choir, and in the following four years had sung all the Bruckner masses under the baton of the composer's pupil and friend, Franz Schalk. This was the trigger for Tintner's lifelong devotion to Bruckner's music, a subject in which he was an expert and, controversially, a champion of the editions of the Nazi sympathiser Robert Haas over those of Leopold Novak, whom Tintner regarded as an inferior scholar.

The Nazis, indeed, were instrumental in Tintner's life, as they were in the lives of countless other Germans and Austrians of Jewish extraction. At the time of the Anschluss in 1938, he was working as a conductor at the Vienna Volksoper. When his contract there was abruptly terminated on account of the Nazis' racial policies, he tried to sue the party for unfair dismissal. 'I must have been mad', he later said; and, indeed, in comparison with many others, he was fortunate enough subsequently to leave Austria, via Yugoslavia, for New Zealand where he arrived in 1942, having been guaranteed support by the parents of one of his pupils. His defiant action was, however, entirely typical of a man who was a lifelong socialist, pacifist and vegan, and whose final act of courage was to defy the ignominies of incurable illness by the taking of his own life.

After initial difficulties in New Zealand, Tintner went on to conduct the Auckland Choral Society, and in 1954 moved to Australia to be conductor of the National Opera and later the Elizabethan Opera (which became Australian Opera). …

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