Levi, Hermann

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LEVI, HERMANN (1839–1900), German conductor. Born at Giessen, the grandson of a rabbi who had been a representative in Napoleon's Sanhedrin, Levi studied music at Leipzig and Paris. From 1872 to 1896 he was court conductor at Munich. Having at first been close to Brahms, Levi gradually drew nearer to *Wagner's circle, and owing to his position as conductor of the Royal Munich Opera Orchestra, he conducted the premiere of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1882. His relationship with Wagner was marred by the latter's antisemitism, and by constant suggestions that Levi submit to baptism because of the Christian implications of Parsifal. A composer as well as a conductor, Levi wrote songs and a piano concerto. He revised and edited Lorenzo *Da Ponte's librettos to Mozart's operas, thus contributing to a Mozart renaissance in the late 19th century. His interpretations of the works of Mozart, Brahms, Bruckner, and Wagner distinguished Levi as one of the greatest conductors of his time. In Munich, he acted as unofficial musical adviser to the city's synagogue; he composed a work for the inauguration of the Mannheim synagogue and a Veshamru for the cantor of Giessen.


E. von Possart, Erinnerungen an Hermann Levi (1901); J. Stern, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 7 (1970), 17–25, incl. bibl.; mgg, incl. bibl.; Grove, Dict, incl. bibl.; Riemann-Einstein; Riemann-Gurlitt, incl. bibl.; Baker, Biog Dict, incl. bibl.; Sendrey, Music, nos. 5313–15, 3096.

[Judith Cohen]