Horenstein, Jascha

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HORENSTEIN, JASCHA (1898–1973), conductor. Born in Kiev, Horenstein moved to Germany with his family while still a child. He studied with Max Brode at Koenigsberg and, after moving to Vienna in 1911, with Franz *Schreker and Adolf Busch at the conservatory and the university. He then followed Schreker to the Berlin Hochschule fuer Musik, where he was a member of a composition class that included Haba and Krenek. He began conducting in 1919 and in 1922 was appointed conductor of the Berlin Schubert Choir, appearing with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra between 1925 and 1928. His first orchestral concert in Vienna included Gustav *Mahler's First Symphony. The following year he became Kapellmeister at the Duesseldorf Opera, a post he held until forced by the Nazis to relinquish it in 1933. Over the next few years he conducted in Russia and France, toured Australia and Scandinavia (with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo), and gave 12 concerts in Ereẓ Israel in 1938. In 1941, he settled in the United States.

As an advocate and interpreter of Mahler and Bruckner, Horenstein was almost unrivaled in the strength, integrity, and sincerity of his approach, and his many early recordings of their works were instrumental in bringing about their present-day popularity. He was also a noted exponent of *Schoenberg, Berg, Walton, and Janacek. Horenstein conducted little opera after Duesseldorf, although he gave the first French performance of Berg's Wozzeck (Paris, 1950), and the first American performance of Busoni's Doktor Faust (New York, 1964). At Covent Garden in London, he conducted Fidelio (1961) and later Parsifal (1973), his last performance of which took place 11 days before he died.

[Max Loppert]