Krauss, Clemens (Heinrich)

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Krauss, Clemens (Heinrich)

Krauss, Clemens (Heinrich), eminent Austrian conductor, great- nephew of (Marie) Gabrielle Krauss; b. Vienna, March 31, 1893; d. Mexico City, May 16, 1954. His father was a court figure, and his mother a dancer; of illegitimate birth, he took his mother’s maiden name. He was a chorister in the Imperial Choir; then studied piano with Reinhold, composition with Grädener, and theory with Heuberger at the Vienna Cons, (graduated, 1912). He was a chorus master at the Brünn Theater (1912–13), making his conducting debut there with a performance of Zar und Zimmermann (Jan. 13, 1913); then was 2nd conductor at Riga’s German Theater (1913–14) and in Nuremberg (1915–16); after serving as 1st conductor in Stettin (1916–21), he conducted in Graz (1921–22). In 1922 he became Schalk’s assistant at the Vienna State Opera; he also taught conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music (1922–24) and was conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstlerkonzerte (1923–27). He was director of the Frankfurt am Main Opera and its Museumgesellschaft concerts (1924–29), and then of the Vienna State Opera (1929–34); was also conductor of the Vienna Phil. (1930–33). In 1926 he made his first appearance at the Salzburg Festivals, and returned there regularly (1929–34); he also conducted in South America (1927) and was a guest conductor with the N.Y. Phil, and the Philadelphia Orch. (1929); he made his debut at London’s Covent Garden in 1934. He was director of the Berlin State Opera (1934–37) and Generalmusikdirektor of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (1937–44); also conducted at the Salzburg Mozarteum (1939–45) and appeared with the Vienna Phil. (1944–45). Having been a friend of Hitler and Göring, and a prominent figure in the musical life of the Third Reich, Krauss was held accountable for his actions by the Allied authorities after the end of World War II. There was a strain of humanity in Krauss, however, for he had assisted Jews to escape the clutches of the barbarous Führer’s fury. In 1947 he was permitted to resume his career with appearances at the Vienna State Opera; he took it to London that same year. He was a conductor with the Vienna Phil. from 1947, and also served as conductor of its famous New Year’s Day Concerts. From 1951 to 1953 he conducted at London’s Covent Garden, and in 1953-54 at the Bayreuth Festivals. He died during a visit to Mexico. He was married to Viorica Ursuleac , who often appeared in operas under his direction; he also accompanied her in recitals. He was a close friend and collaborator of Richard Strauss, who considered him one of the finest interpreters of his works; he conducted the premieres of Arabella, Friedenstag, Capriccio (for which he wrote the libretto), and Die Liebe der Danae. Krauss was renowned as a conductor of works by Mozart, Wagner, and Verdi, as well as those by the Viennese waltz composers.


A. Berger, C. K. (Graz, 1924; 3rd ed., 1929); J. Gregor, C. K.: Eine musikalische Sendung (Vienna, 1953); O. van Pander, C. K. in München (Munich, 1955); G. Kende and S. Scanzoni, Der Prinzipal C. K.: Fakten, Vergleiche, Rückschlüsse (Tutzing, 1988); G. Brosche, ed., Richard Strauss, C. K. Briefwechsel: Gesamtausgabe (Tutzing, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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