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Thomas Schippers (1930 - 1977)


Thomas Schippers’s family was of Dutch and German origin. He began to study the piano at the age of four, made his first appearance in public aged six, and was soon playing on local radio. During 1944 and 1945 he studied the organ at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and between 1946 and 1947 piano with Olga Samaroff; in addition he studied with Hindemith at Yale, and at the Juilliard School in New York. He was a finalist in a conductors’ competition held in Philadelphia during 1948, the year in which he took up a post as a church organist in New York and made his début as a conductor with the Lemonade Opera in Greenwich Village. Schippers was involved in the musical preparation of Menotti’s opera The Consul in 1950 (conducting it after its first performance) as well as later of two other Menotti operas, The Medium and Amahl and the Night Visitors; he went on to conduct the soundtrack of the former for an Italian film (1950) and the commercial recording of the latter (1952) with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Having joined the music staff of the New York City Opera in 1951, becoming at the age of twenty-one the youngest conductor ever to have appeared with the company, Schippers conducted the first performance of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land there in 1954, the year in which he toured Europe. He made his débuts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and at La Scala, Milan, in

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