Janowitz, Otto

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Otto Janowitz was a Czech-born vocal coach, accompanist, composer and writer. He emigrated to the United States in 1938.

From the description of Otto Janowitz papers, 1920-1987. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122465145

Otto Janowitz was born in Poderbrady, Czechoslovakia on July 22, 1888. He attended university in Prague where he studied piano with Holfeld and Alexander von Zemlinsky, graduating in 1907. He then went to the University of Vienna where he studied music theory with Walter Klein and received a doctorate in political science in 1912. He became a respected voice coach, teacher, recital accompanist, composer, writer and lecturer on music and its cultural background.

Dr. Janowitz's professional activities in Europe included stints as opera coach and assistant conductor at Prague, Berlin, and Aussig during the years 1920-1923. In 1923 he was engaged by Richard Strauss as opera coach and assistant conductor at the Vienna State Opera, where he remained until his emigration to the United States in 1938. During his tenure there Janowitz was assistant conductor under Richard Strauss, Clemens Krauss, Felix Weingartner, and Erwin Kerber, worked with Elisabeth Schumann, Enid Szantho, Lotte Lehman, Jan Kiepura, and Friedrich Schorr. He coached operatic, recital, and oratorical repertoire in German, English, Italian, French and Czech.

Upon his arrival in America Dr. Janowitz became the assistant conductor of the Mozart Opera Company in New York, a position he held until 1941. His other positions of note include teacher and accompanist at the Operatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research, New York (1940-1941) where he worked with Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, and Josef Turnau; voice coach, assistant conductor, and director of the Opera Workshop at Hunter College, New York (1946-1947); musical adviser and librarian at radio station WOV, New York in 1949; opera coach and repertoire builder at Philadelphia Academy of Music from 1948 to 1950; voice coach and accompanist in the Opera Workshop at the Pittsburgh College for Women from 1952 to 1954; faculty member of the Academy of Vocal Arts, Philadelphia, in 1953; and played celesta and piano at the Metropolitan Opera for several seasons during this period. Janowitz also enjoyed a career as a writer and lecturer on music and its cultural background. Some titles include "Music and Politics," and a lecture series about Mozart's Don Giovanni, delivered at New York's Steinway Hall in 1940.

Over the years Janowitz performed recital accompaniment for Eleanor Steele and Hall Clovis, Rosa Bok, Fred Destal, Jessica Dragonette, Martha Eggerth, Irene Jessner, Olga Paul, and others. He composed dance music, ballets and pantomimes for Ellen Tels, Tilly Losch, Gertrude Lippincott, Elaine Blok, Jean Erdman, and Katya Delakova and Fred Berk, and created many arrangements of traditional folksongs. He also set three Dorothy Parker poems to music.

Otto Janowitz's death is difficult to find documented, but is estimated as summer of 1965, in New York.

From the guide to the Otto Janowitz papers, 1920-1987, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Levin, Harry. Harry Levin Papers. 1920-1995. Houghton Library
creatorOf Otto Janowitz papers, 1920-1987 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn George Balanchine archive, 1924-1989 (inclusive), 1961-1983 (bulk). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Lippincott, Gertrude. Gertrude Lippincott collection of ballet music. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Janowitz, Otto. Otto Janowitz papers, 1920-1987. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Music Collection corporateBody
correspondedWith Balanchine, George. person
associatedWith Levin, Harry, 1912-1994 person
associatedWith Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Dance music
Vocal coaches
Arrangement (music)
Musical accompaniment
Vocal coaches
Conductors (Music)


Active 1920

Active 1987




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