Seidl, Anton

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Seidl, Anton

Seidl, Anton, famous Hungarian conductor; b. Pest, May 7, 1850; d. N.Y., March 28, 1898. He studied at the Univ. and at the Cons. in Leipzig, then was engaged by Hans Richter as chorus master at the Vienna Court Opera. Richter in turn recommended him to Wagner to assist in preparing the score and parts of the Ring tetralogy for the Bayreuth Festival of 1876. Returning to Leipzig, he was first conductor of its Opera (1879–82); in 1882 he was engaged by the impresario Angelo Neumann for a grand tour of Wagner’s operas. From 1883 he conducted the Bremen Opera; in 1885 he was engaged to conduct the German opera repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. He made his American debut with Lohengrin there (Nov. 23, 1885), then conducted the American premieres of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Jan. 4, 1886), Tristan und Isolde (Dec. 1, 1886), Siegfried (Nov. 9, 1887), and the Ring cycle (March 4–11, 1889). In 1891 he was engaged as conductor of the N.Y. Phil., and led it until his death (of ptomaine poisoning). Seidl was an excellent technician of the baton and established a standard of perfection rare in American orch. playing of that time; he introduced many unfamiliar works by German composers and conducted the premiere of Dvorak’s New World Sym. (N.Y, Dec. 15, 1893). He married the Austrian soprano Auguste Kraus (b. Vienna, Aug. 28, 1853; d. Kingston, N.Y, July 17, 1939); after vocal studies with Marchen, she made her operatic debut at the Vienna Court Opera in 1877, where she sang minor roles; then sang in Leipzig (1881–82), where she subsequently became a member of Neumann’s Wagnerian company and married Seidl; sang at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London in 1882 and then made her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser under her husband’s direction, remaining on its roster until 1888. Among her best known roles were Elsa, Eva, Siegliende, and Gutrune.

Bibliography

H. Krehbiel, A. S. (N.Y., 1898); H. Finck, ed., A. S.: A Memorial by His Friends (N.Y, 1899).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire