Erich Leinsdorf: Wikis


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Erich Leinsdorf (born Erich Landauer) (February 4, 1912 – September 11, 1993) was an Austrian-born American conductor.[1] He performed and recorded with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States and Europe, earning a reputation for exacting standards as well as an acerbic personality.[2] He also published books and essays on musical matters.



Leinsdorf was born in Vienna, and was studying music at a local school by the age of 5. He studied conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and later at the University of Vienna and the Vienna Academy of Music. From 1934 to 1937 he worked as an assistant to Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival. He conducted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1938, being particularly noted for his Wagner; after the sudden death of Artur Bodanzky in 1939, Leinsdorf was named the Met's "head of German repertoire".[1][3]

In 1942 Leinsdorf became a naturalized American citizen.[1] From 1943 he had a brief three-year post as Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra, but was absent for much of this tenure because he was drafted into the United States Armed Forces for World War II; the orchestra did not renew Leinsdorf's contract. Many years later, in the transition in Cleveland from Lorin Maazel to Christoph von Dohnányi between 1982 and 1984, Leinsdorf returned to lead several concerts; Leinsdorf described his role as "the bridge between the regimes".[3]

He was the principal conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1947 to 1955. Leinsdorf came to despair of what he saw as Rochester's insular musical culture, famously remarking that "Rochester is the best disguised dead end in the world!" Subsequently he was briefly head of the New York City Opera, before resuming his association with the Met.[1]

In 1962 he was named music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His time in Boston would produce many recordings for RCA, but was also marked by controversy, as he occasionally clashed with musicians and administrators.[2]

More than once Leinsdorf's performances were interrupted by historical events. On November 22, 1963, during a performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he delivered this sad news: "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a press report over the wires ... We hope that it is unconfirmed but we have to doubt it ... that the President of the United States has been victim ... of an assassination. [audience gasps and murmurs loudly] We will play the Funeral March from Beethoven's third symphony."[4] He was referring to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Leinsdorf was in Israel at the start of the Six Day War in 1967. In 1969 Leinsdorf left the Boston post. He would continue to guest-conduct operas and orchestras around the world for the next two decades, being particularly associated with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. He also served from 1978 to 1980 as principal conductor of the (West) Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.[2] He died of cancer in Zürich, Switzerland, at the age of 81.

His notable students include John Ferritto.


Leinsdorf made numerous recordings throughout his career, including some 78-rpm discs for Columbia Records with the Cleveland Orchestra. He made a number of recordings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Capitol. In the 1950s, he was conductor for a series of complete stereophonic opera recordings for RCA Victor, made in Rome, beginning with Puccini's Tosca with Zinka Milanov, Jussi Bjoerling, and Leonard Warren (RCA CD #63305). He continued to record for RCA as music director of the Boston Symphony. Later he again made additional operatic recordings, including the first complete stereo recording of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt, with Carol Neblett and René Kollo (RCA CD #87767[2]). Also under RCA, Leinsdorf conducted the BSO with pianist Arthur Rubinstein in pianist's second complete recording of Beethoven's piano concertos, Brahms' First Piano Concerto, and Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto.


Boston Symphony Orchestra discography

Recordings made with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for RCA Records:


Leinsdorf with the BSO appreared regularly on local broadcasts from WGBH-TV. On August 17, 1967, Leinsdorf conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a two-hour primetime special telecast in color on NBC, a reflection of the days when a commercial network would periodically broadcast a full-length classical concert. The program, entitled An Evening at Tanglewood, featured violinist Itzhak Perlman as guest soloist.[5]


  • Leinsdorf, Erich (1976). Cadenza: A Musical Career. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395244013.  
  • Leinsdorf, Erich (1981). The Composer's Advocate: A Radical Orthodoxy for Musicians. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300024274.  
  • Leinsdorf, Erich (1997). Erich Leinsdorf on Music. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press. ISBN 157467028X.  


  1. ^ a b c d Slonimsky, N. (1994). The Concise Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th edition ed.). New York: G. Schirmer. pp. 559. ISBN 002872416X.  
  2. ^ a b c Bruce Eder. "Erich Leinsdorf Biography". All Music. Retrieved 2007-05-25.  
  3. ^ a b Rosenberg, Donald (2000). The Cleveland Orchestra Story. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co.. ISBN 1-886228-24-8.  
  4. ^ Bennett, Susan (2003). President Kennedy Has Been Shot: Experience the Moment-To-Moment Account of the Four Days That Changed America. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Mediafusion. ISBN 1402201583.  
  5. ^ "An Evening at Tanglewood". Time. 16 August 1967.,9171,840943,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-15.  

External links


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