Weingartner, (Paul) Felix, Edler von Münzberg
Weingartner, (Paul) Felix, Edler von Münzberg
Weingartner, (Paul) Felix, Edler von Münzberg , illustrious Austrian conductor; b. Zara, Dalmatia, June 2, 1863; d. Winterthur, May 7, 1942. After his father’s death in 1868, his mother took him to Graz, where he studied music with W.A. Rémy. He publ. some piano pieces when he was 16 years old; Brahms recommended him for a stipend that enabled him to take music courses with Reinecke, Jadassohn, and Paul at the Leipzig Cons. (1881-83). He received the Mozart Prize at his graduation. He was introduced to Liszt, who recommended Weingartner’s opera Sakuntala for production in Weimar (March 23, 1884), a signal honor for a young man not yet 21 years old. While progressing rapidly as a composer, Weingartner launched a brilliant career as a conductor, which was to become his prime vocation. He conducted in Königsberg (1884-85), Danzig (1885-87), Hamburg (1887-89), and Mannheim (1889-91). In 1891 he was engaged as court conductor in Berlin, where he led the Royal Opera until 1898 and the royal orch. concerts until 1907; he also conducted the Kaim Orch. in Munich (1898-1905). His reputation as a fine musician was enhanced by his appearances as an ensemble player in the Weingartner Trio, with himself as pianist, Rettich as violinist, and Warnke as cellist. In 1908 he succeeded Mahler as music director of the Vienna Court Opera and conducted there until 1911. He also was Mahler’s successor as conductor of the Vienna Phil. (1908-27), with which he won great renown. He likewise served as Generalmusikdirektor in Darmstadt (1914-19) and as director of the Vienna Volksoper (1919-24). In 1927 he became director of the Basel Cons. He also conducted sym. concerts in Basel. After serving as a guest conductor of the Vienna State Opera (1934-35), he again was its director (1935-36); then once more was a guest conductor there (1936-38). Throughout the years he had engagements as guest conductor with major European orchs. He made his American debut with the N.Y. Phil. on Feb. 12, 1904 and later conducted the N.Y. Sym. Soc. (Jan.-March 1906). He appeared with the Boston Opera Co. on Feb. 12, 1912, conducting Tristan und Isolde; he and his 3rd wife, Lucille Marcel, were engaged for a season with the Boston Opera Co. in 1913. (His 1st wife was Marie Juillerat, whom he married in 1891; his 2nd wife was the Baroness Feodora von Dreifus, whom he married in 1903). He made his debut at Covent Garden in London in 1939 conducting Parsifal. He eventually settled in Interlaken, where he established a summer conducting school. Although Weingartner was trained in the Austro-German Romantic tradition, his approach to conducting was notable for its eschewing of Romantic excess. Indeed, he acquired a remarkable reputation for his devotion to the composer’s intentions, which he conveyed to his musicians via an unostentatious baton technique. His interpretations of the Austro-German repertoire were acclaimed for their authority and integrity. He was the first conductor to record all the Beethoven syms. Weingartner was also a competent music editor; he was on the editorial board for the complete works of Berlioz (1899) and of Haydn (1907). Despite the pressure of his activities as a conductor, he found time for composition. In addition to his first opera, Sakuntala, he wrote the operas Malawika (Munich, 1886), Genesius (Berlin, Nov. 15, 1892), Orestes, a trilogy (Leipzig, Feb. 15,1902), Kain und Abel (Darmstadt, May 17, 1914), Dame Kobold (Darmstadt, Feb. 23, 1916), Die Dorfschule (Vienna, May 13, 1920), Meister Andrea (Vienna, May 13,1920), and Der Apostat (not perf.). He also composed 7 syms. (1899-1937); various other orch. works, including pieces for Voice and Orch. and Chorus and Orch.; songs; much chamber music, including 5 string quartets, 2 violin sonatas, and piano pieces. He made arrangements of Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata, op.106, and of Weber’s Aufforderung zum Tanz. He was an excellent writer on musical subjects. Among his publs, were: Die Lehre von der Wiedergeburt und das musikalische Drama (1895), Über das Dirigieren (1896; 5th ed., 1913; a fundamental essay on conducting), Bayreuth 1876-1896 (1897; 2nd ed., 1904), Die Symphonie nach Beethoven (1897; 4th ed., 1901; Eng. tr., 1904; new tr. as The Symphony since Beethoven, 1926), Ratschläge für Aufführung der Sinfonien Beethovens (1906; 3rd ed., 1928; Eng. tr., London, 1907), Akkorde: Gesammelte Aufsätze von Felix Weingartner (1912), a polemical pamphlet, Erlebnisse eines kgl. Kapellmeisters in Berlin (1912; an attack upon the Berlin intendancy; a rebuttal was publ. by A. Wolff in Der Fall Weingartner, 1912), Ratschläge für Aufführung der Sinfonien Schuberts und Schumanns (1918), Ratschläge für Aufführung der Sinfonien Mozarts (1923), and Lebenserinnerungen (vol. I, 1923; vol. II, 1929; Eng. version, London, 1937, as Buffets and Rewards: A Musician’s Reminiscences), Unwirkliches und Wirkliches (1936).
E. Krause, F. W. als schaffender Künstler (Berlin, 1904); P. Riesenfeld, F. W. Ein kritischer Versuch (Breslau, 1906); W. Hutschenruyter, Levensschets en portret van F. W. (Haarlem, 1906); J. Lustig, F. W. Persönlichkeiten (Berlin, 1908); W. Jacob, F. W. (Wiesbaden, 1933); Festschrift für Dr. F W. zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtstag (Basel, 1933); C. Dyment, F W.: Recollections and Recordings (Rickmansworth, 1975).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire