Maretzek, Max

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Maretzek, Max

Maretzek, Max, Czech-born American conductor, operatic impresario, and composer; b. Brünn, June 28, 1821; d. Staten Island, N.Y., May 14, 1897. He received training in medicine and law at the Univ. of Vienna and pursued musical studies with Seyfried. In 1840 he commenced his career as a conductor and composer. In 1844 he became chorus master at London’s Covent Garden. He went to N.Y. in 1848 to conduct Italian opera at the Astor Place Opera House. In 1849 he launched out on his own as an operatic impresario, conducting enterprises in N.Y. and on tour throughout the U.S., Cuba, and Mexico. In addition to engaging many famous singers for the first time in the U.S., he also conducted first performances in N.Y. of many operas, most notably Il Trovatore (May 2,1855), La Traviata (Dec. 3,1856), and Don Carlos (April 12, 1877). Although he retired as an operatic impresario in 1878, he continued to be active as a conductor. Among his own works were several operas, including Sleepy Hollow: or, The Headless Horseman (N.Y, Sept. 25, 1879), and a number of ballets. His colorful career is related in his two books, Crotchets and Quavers (N.Y, 1855) and Sharps and Flats (N.Y, 1890).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire