Walter, Bruno, 1876-1962

Alternative names
Birth 1876-09-15
Death 1962-02-17
French, German, English, Italian

Biographical notes:

Elsa Walter (née Wirthschaft, previous married name Korneck) was an opera singer and Bruno's wife; they were married from around 1900 until Elsa's death, which was apparently in 1945. Delia Reinhardt, an opera singer whom Walter had mentored, was a close friend of Walter. McLane was a friend of Alma Mahler who communicated with Alma upon Walter's death; she lived in Calif.

From the description of Correspondence with Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler, and Franz Werfel, 1911-1960. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155864740

Bruno Walter [Schelsinger] was an American conductor and composer of German birth. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Walter attended the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, initially planning to become a concert pianist. Around 1889, however, he resolved to pursue a conducting career after hearing Hans von Bülow direct an orchestra. He obtained a position as vocal coach in Cologne, making his conducting début there in 1894 in a performance of Lortzing's Der Waffenschmied. From 1894 to 1896 he worked in Hamburg under Mahler, who profoundly influenced Walter's artistic development. Impressed by his protégé, Mahler found employment for him in Breslau in 1896, though the director there requested that Bruno Schlesinger change his name, ostensibly because Schlesinger was too common a name in Breslau, the capital of Silesia. Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 4/21/2009.

From the description of Bruno Walter letter. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 319684967

German conductor.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : Leipzig, 23 February 1931, to [Dannie Heineman], 1931 Feb. 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270678979

From the description of Autograph letters signed (3), autograph notes signed on his visiting cards (2), typewritten letters signed (one signed by Lotte Walter Lindt), and printed cards (5), dated : Salzburg, New York, Beverly Hills, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles, 1936 or 1937 and 1954-1961, to Lise Rueff, 1954 Dec. 23 and 1957 Sept. 27. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270678984

From the description of Autograph letters signed (42) and typewritten letters signed (15), dated : Igls (bei Innsbruck), St. Moritz, Zurich, Lugano, Beverly Hills, New York, [and other places], 1924-1952, to Harry Harkness Flagler, 1924 Jan. 3 and 1939 Mar. 4 and 1946 Sept. 10. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270678975

From the description of Autograph letters signed (3), dated : New York, Vienna, and Los Angeles, 1932, 1937, and 1940, to Mary Flagler Cary, 1932 Mar. 2 and 1937 Dec. 23 and 1940 Sept. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270678973

From the description of Typewritten letter signed (carbon copy), dated : New York, 6 December 1941, to an unidentified recipient, 1941 Dec. 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270678987

From the description of Autograph note signed, dated : [n.p., n.d.], to Herr and Frau Dr. Polgar, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270873854

Bruno Walter was a naturalized American conductor.

From the description of The Bruno Walter papers, [ca. 1887-ca. 1966]. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122597869

From the description of Bruno Walter material from the Mahler-Rosé collection, 1895-1931. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122686781

From the guide to the Bruno Walter material from the Mahler-Rosé collection, 1895-1931, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

As the life of Bruno Walter is well documented in standard reference sources, a brief overview of his life should suffice.

Bruno Schlesinger was born in Berlin on Sept. 15, 1876. His early musical instruction was in the form of piano lessons. As a student at the Stern Conservatory he began to receive notice as early as 1887. By the 1890s his interest gravitated toward conducting and he made his conducting debut in 1894. He first met Gustav Mahler in Hamburg, 1895. In 1901 Walter was appointed to the Court Opera in Vienna where Mahler was the Music Director. The two developed a close relationship that lasted until the composer's death in 1911. By the turn of the century Walter dropped Schlesinger as a last name. In 1900 he conducted the world premiere of Hans Pfitzner's Der arme Heinrich, and remained a close friend of the composer and of his wife (Walter's last letter, written the day before he died, was addressed to the composer's widow, Mali Pfitzner). Sometime in this first decade Walter married Elsa Korneck. Though she lived until the early 1940s, she remains a shadowy figure, and the papers hold scant evidence of her existence (though Mahler did address two cards to her).

Walter's appointment to Vienna ended in 1913 when he became the Music Director of the Munich Opera. His departure from Munich in 1922 was cause for an outpouring of public expression. Following this tenure, Walter made guest appearances several orchestras. From 1925-1929 he was Music Director of the Berlin Städtische Opera -- a position that was not without a certain amount of friction between him and the Generalintendant Heinz Tietjen. In 1929 Walter succeeded Furtwängler as Music Director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus.

With the rise to power of the Nazi party in 1933, Bruno Walter was removed from his post at Leipzig and made Austria the center of his activities for the next few years. The Anschluss of 1938 forced Walter to emigrate to France where he became a citizen in 1940. The subsequent occupation of France led Walter to find his home in the United States, where he settled in 1941, in Beverly Hills. He obtained United States citizenship in 1945.

Despite a brief stint as Acting Music Director of the New York Philharmonic (1947-1949), Walter was engaged primarily as a guest conductor with orchestras in North America and in Europe. He became acquainted with Rudolf Bing while the latter was in charge of the Edinburgh Festival. When Bing became General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in 1950 he was able to entice Walter into leading several operatic performances, most notably a revival of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in 1956.

Though his public appearances became less frequent during the 1950s, his recording activity assumed a major place in his life. A mild heart attack in 1957 led Walter to curtail many of his appearances. Even after his final public performances in 1960, Walter continued to record for Columbia Records, and plan for future recording projects.

Bruno Walter died in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles on February 17, 1962.

From the guide to the The Bruno Walter papers, ca. 1887-ca. 1966, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Alan Shulman was a composer, cellist and arranger. Born in Baltimore on June 4, 1915, his early studies were with Bart Wirtz (cello) and Louis Cheslock (harmony) at the Peabody Conservatory.

In 1928 the family moved to New York, where Shulman played in the National Orchestral Association under Leon Barzin. He received a New York Philharmonic Scholarship, studying cello with Joseph Emonts and harmony with Winthrop Sargent. From 1932-1937, he attended the Juilliard School where he was a fellowship student, studying cello with Felix Salmond and composition with Bernard Wagenaar. While still a student, he composed music for the American Children's Theatre production of Hans Christian Anderson's The Chinese Nightingale (1934). He continued his studies of cello with Emanuel Feuermann, and of composition with Paul Hindemith.

Shulman was the cellist of the Kreiner String Quartet (1935-38). Later, he and his brother, violinist/conductor Sylvan Shulman, co-founded the Stuyvesant String Quartet. During the 1940s and 1950s this group was noted for its performances and recordings of contemporary quartets of Bloch, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Malipiero, Hindemith and Kreisler, among others. In 1941 they played the American premiere of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet at Carnegie Hall (on a bill which included Benny Goodman), and recorded it for Columbia Records.

Simultaneously with his Kreiner Quartet activities, Shulman was arranging and performing classical themes in a jazz style with an ensemble consisting of string quartet, bass, guitar and harp. The group, called the New Friends of Rhythm, recorded for RCA Victor and sold 20,000 records in 1939 and 1940. They recorded with Buster Bailey for Victor before World War II, and with Maxine Sullivan for International Records after the war.

Shulman was a charter member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini from 1937-1942, served in the U.S. Maritime Service from 1942-1945, and rejoined NBC from 1948-1954. While in the Maritime Service, he taught orchestration to Nelson Riddle, who went on to write celebrated arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat "King" Cole. After NBC disbanded the Symphony in 1954, he helped form and manage the group's short-lived successor, the Symphony of the Air.

During the 1930s and 1940s Shulman was active as an arranger for Leo Reisman, Andre Kostalanetz, Arthur Fiedler and Wilfred Pelletier's Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air. Later, Shulman worked with opera singer Risë Stevens, producing "crossover" arrangements for her which she recorded from 1945-1947.

Shulman's first successful composition was Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra, which received its première over NBC in 1941 with Emanuel Vardi as soloist. The piece was recorded several times and is in the repertoire of most American viola soloists. Among his many successful compositions are the Suite on American Folk Songs (one movement of which, Cod Liver 'Ile, was recorded by Jascha Heifetz); Waltzes for Orchestra, premiered by the NBC Symphony with Milton Katims conducting; Threnody (For the Fallen Soldiers of Israel), premiered by the NBC String Quartet in February, 1950; Rendezvous, written for Benny Goodman and recorded by Artie Shaw and Richard Stoltzman; and the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, premiered by Leonard Rose with the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos. His Suite Miniature for Octet of Celli was written in 1956 for the Fine Arts Cello Ensemble of Los Angeles.

In the 1950s, Shulman wrote popular songs with entertainer Steve Allen and arranged for Skitch Henderson, Raoul Poliakin and Felix Slatkin. During the 1960s and 1970s, Shulman was busy in recording and television studios, and composed teaching material and works for band including Three Faces of Glen Cove, Interstate 90, The Corn Shuckers and Mazatlan, and arranged for singer-songwriter Cris Williamson's debut recording on Ampex Records.

Shulman founded the Violoncello Society in 1956 and was President from 1967 to 1972. He was cellist of the Philharmonia Trio (1962-1969), the Vardi Trio, An Die Musik (1976-1977), and the Haydn Quartet (1972-1982). Shulman taught cello at Sarah Lawrence College, Juilliard, SUNY-Purchase, Johnson State College (Vermont) and the University of Maine. He was made a Chevalier du Violoncelle by the Eva Janzer Cello Center at Indiana University in 1997. Shulman died on July 10, 2002.

Sources: Margaret Campbell. "Shulman, Alan." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 22, 2011).

"The Music of Alan Shulman." (accessed September 22, 2011).

From the guide to the Alan Shulman papers, 1924-2005, 1933-1988, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)


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  • Musicians
  • Sonatas (Violin and piano)--Scores
  • Conductors (Music)--Correspondence


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