62 Facts About Otto Klemperer


Otto Nossan Klemperer was a conductor and composer, originally based in Germany, and then the US, Hungary and finally Britain.


Otto Klemperer was from a Jewish family, and the rise of the Nazis caused him to leave Germany in 1933.


Otto Klemperer's career was seriously disrupted and did not fully recover until the mid-1940s.


Otto Klemperer served as the musical director of the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest from 1947 to 1950.


Otto Klemperer was the second child and only son of Nathan Klemperer and his wife Ida, nee Nathan.


Nathan Otto Klemperer was originally from Josefov, the ghetto in the Bohemian city of Prague; Ida was from a more prosperous Jewish family in Hamburg.


When Otto Klemperer was four the family moved from Breslau to Hamburg, where Nathan earned a modest living in commercial posts and his wife gave piano lessons.


Otto Klemperer followed him at each move, and later credited him with the whole basis of his musical development.


In 1905 Otto Klemperer met Gustav Mahler at a rehearsal of the latter's Second Symphony in Berlin.


Oscar Fried conducted, and Otto Klemperer was given charge of the off-stage orchestra.


Otto Klemperer later made a piano arrangement of the symphony, which he played to the composer in 1907 when visiting Vienna.


From Prague, Otto Klemperer moved to be assistant conductor at the Hamburg State Opera, where the sopranos Lotte Lehmann and Elisabeth Schumann made their joint debuts under his direction.


Otto Klemperer was a Christian, and he had converted from Judaism.


Otto Klemperer remained a practising Roman Catholic until 1967, when he left the faith and returned to Judaism.


In 1923 Otto Klemperer turned down an invitation to succeed Leo Blech as musical director of the Berlin State Opera because he did not believe he would be given enough artistic authority over productions.


Otto Klemperer found his tenure there rewarding and fulfilling, later describing it as the happiest time in his career.


Otto Klemperer visited Russia in 1924, conducting there during a six-week stay; he returned each year until 1936.


Otto Klemperer was offered a ten-year contract and accepted it on condition that he would be allowed to conduct orchestral concerts in the theatre, and that he could employ his chosen design and stage experts.


In both concert and operatic performances Otto Klemperer introduced much new music.


In 1929 Otto Klemperer made his British debut, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the first London performance of Bruckner's Eighth Symphony.


Otto Klemperer remained there until 1933, when the rise of the Nazis caused him to leave for safety in Switzerland, joined by his wife and children.


In exile from Germany, Otto Klemperer found that conducting work was far from plentiful, although he secured some prestigious engagements in Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival.


Otto Klemperer was sounded out by William Andrews Clark, founder and sponsor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, about becoming the orchestra's chief conductor in succession to Artur Rodzinski, who was leaving to take over the Cleveland Orchestra.


The Los Angeles orchestra was not then regarded as among the finest American ensembles, and the salary was less than Otto Klemperer would have liked, but he accepted and sailed to the US in 1935.


Otto Klemperer programmed music from Gurrelieder by his fellow exile and Los Angeles neighbour Arnold Schoenberg, although the composer complained that Klemperer did not perform his works more often.


Otto Klemperer insisted that the local public was not ready for such demanding music; Schoenberg did not bear a grudge and, as Otto Klemperer always aspired to compose as well as to conduct, Schoenberg gave him composition lessons.


In 1935, at Arthur Judson's invitation, Otto Klemperer conducted the New York Philharmonic for four weeks.


The orchestra's chief conductor, Arturo Toscanini, was in Europe and Otto Klemperer took charge of the opening concerts of the season.


The New York concert-going public was deeply conservative but despite Judson's warning that programming Mahler would be highly damaging at the box-office, Otto Klemperer insisted on giving the Second Symphony.


When Toscanini resigned from the orchestra the following year, Otto Klemperer hoped to be considered as his successor, but recognised that after "this affair of the Mahler symphony" he would not be re-engaged.


Nonetheless, when the then little-known John Barbirolli was announced as Toscanini's successor, Otto Klemperer wrote a vehement letter to Judson protesting at being passed over.


Pierre Monteux was conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and he and Otto Klemperer guest-conducted each other's orchestras.


Otto Klemperer held auditions in Pittsburgh and, more fruitfully, in New York, and after three weeks of intensive rehearsal the orchestra was ready for the opening concerts of the season, which he conducted.


Otto Klemperer was contractually committed to Los Angeles, but contemplated taking on the direction of both orchestras.


Otto Klemperer decided against it and Fritz Reiner was appointed as conductor in Pittsburgh.


In 1939 Otto Klemperer began to suffer from serious balance problems.


Otto Klemperer was found two days later in Morristown, New Jersey and appeared composed.


In March 1948 Otto Klemperer made his first post-war appearance in London, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.


Otto Klemperer conducted Bach's Third Orchestral Suite from the harpsichord, Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.


Otto Klemperer left the Budapest post in 1950, frustrated by the political interference of the communist regime.


Otto Klemperer held no permanent conductorship for the next nine years.


Otto Klemperer settled in Zurich, and obtained German citizenship and right of residency in Switzerland.


Otto Klemperer returned to opera in 1961, making his Covent Garden debut in Fidelio for which he directed the staging as well as the music.


Otto Klemperer had to a considerable extent moved away from the experimental stagings of the Kroll years; the 1961 Fidelio was described as "traditional, unfussy, grandly conceived, and profoundly revealing", and of "deep serenity" musically.


Otto Klemperer directed and conducted another Fidelio in Zurich the following year, at the opera house, only a few hundred yards from his home.


Otto Klemperer battled with entrenched interests in the Zurich orchestra to secure the best players, but he succeeded and the performances were well received.


Otto Klemperer remained in the position until his retirement eight years later.


Otto Klemperer visited his younger sister, who lived there, and while in Jerusalem in 1970 he accepted the offer of Israeli citizenship, though continuing to retain his German citizenship and permanent Swiss residency.


Otto Klemperer hoped to be able to go on making recordings, as he felt he might be able to manage the shorter spans of recording takes, and intended to conduct Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail and Bach's St John Passion for EMI, but neither plan came to fruition.


Otto Klemperer retired to his home in Zurich, where he died in his sleep on 6 July 1973.


Otto Klemperer's wife predeceased him and he was survived by their two children.


Otto Klemperer was buried in the Jewish cemetery at Friesenberg, Zurich, four days later.


Otto Klemperer began composing at an early age, and started writing songs in his mid-teens.


Otto Klemperer extensively revised some of his compositions and destroyed others.


Otto Klemperer later viewed the music he composed after that as his first mature works.


Otto Klemperer gave the premiere of his First Symphony with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam in 1961, and that of the final version of his Second with the New Philharmonia in 1969, recording it for EMI a few weeks later.


Otto Klemperer's first recording was an acoustic set of the slow movement of Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, made for Polydor in 1924 with the Staatskapelle Berlin.


In October 1954 Otto Klemperer made the first of his many recordings with the Philharmonia: Mozart's Jupiter Symphony.


In 1933 Otto Klemperer was presented with the Goethe Medal by President Hindenburg in Berlin.


Otto Klemperer was awarded the Leipzig Orchestral Nikisch Prize in 1966, and held honorary degrees from Occidental College and the University of California, Los Angeles.


In 1973 Lotte Otto Klemperer presented the Royal Academy of Music with a collection of her father's books and marked-up scores, together with a portrait and some of his batons.


Cardus expressed regret that Otto Klemperer had too rarely been allowed to programme Bruckner, "whose symphonies he encompassed with a grip and a vision which saw the end of a large musical shape in the beginning".