Pahlen, Kurt 1907-2003

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PAHLEN, Kurt 1907-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born May 26, 1907, in Vienna, Austria; died July 24, 2003, in Lenk, Switzerland. Conductor, composer, educator, and author. Pahlen worked throughout his life to make music, especially orchestral and operatic works, accessible to general audiences and children. Initially intending to be a professional pianist, he switched to the study of composition and conducting at the Vienna Conservatoire, and also studied German language and literature at the University of Vienna, where he earned a D.Phil. in 1929. After graduation, he taught opera at the Volkshochschule, while earning additional income as a music critic and radio broadcaster. He found work, too, as a conductor and lecturer. As a music composer, his original compositions received acclaim and popularity in Europe, and he also established a respected opera studio in Vienna; for younger performers also Pahlen established a number of children's choruses and choirs. With the onset of World War II, however, he fled to Argentina, where he became chief conductor for the Filharmonica Metropolitana and then of the Filharmonia in Rosario. He continued to write music while publishing numerous books in German and Spanish, some of which were for juvenile audiences, including Manuel de Falla (1953), Que es la musica? (1956), La musica en la educatión moderna (1961), Grösse Meister der Musik (1968), and Opera der Welt (1979). In 1949 he moved to Uruguay, becoming professor of musicology at the University de la Republica in Montevideo and president and chief conductor of the Chorus-Organization. In 1957 he was also hired as manager of the Theatre Colon, an opera house in Buenos Aires. Pahlen returned to Europe in 1972, moving to Mannedorf, Switzerland and obtaining Swiss citizenship in 1982. He continued to lecture and travel abroad, as well as compose operas, songs, choral pieces, and musical theater for children and adults. Honored with such awards as the Great Cross for Culture and Sciences and the Great Cross from the Land of the Salzburgs, his most recent prize was the Gold Medal of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria, which he received in 2002. Pahlen wrote of his life in his autobiography, Ja, die Zeit andert viel: Mein Jahrhundert mit der Musik (2001).



Independent (London, England), August 6, 2003, p. 18.

Times (London, England), July 31, 2003.