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Leo Blech (1871 - 1958)

Leo Blech gave up a proposed career in business to enrol at the Berlin High School for Music, where he studied composition, firstly with Woldemar Bargiel, then with Engelbert Humperdinck, and piano with Ernst Rudorff. In 1893 he returned to Aachen and on the recommendation of Richard Strauss made his debut as the conductor of the city’s Municipal Theatre, remaining in this post until 1899 while continuing to study composition with Humperdinck in Munich during the summers. Henceforth Blech was to hold a succession of posts at major European opera houses, predominantly in Berlin. Between 1899 and 1906 he also conducted at the German Theatre in Prague. In 1906 he took up the appointment of first conductor at the Royal Opera in Berlin, where Richard Strauss was currently chief conductor, succeeding Strauss in this position in 1918. In 1923 he left this theatre (by which time it had been renamed the Berlin State Opera) to become chief conductor of the German Opera House (Deutsches Opernhaus) in Berlin, but stayed there only for a year, moving to the Berlin Volksoper in 1924, and then on to the Vienna Volksoper in 1925; in 1926 he returned to the Berlin State Opera as first conductor. Erich Kleiber was at this time the company’s chief conductor. Between 1924 and 1929 Blech also held the post of conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra.



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