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Arthur Nikisch (1855 - 1922)

Arthur Nikisch’s father came from Moravia, and his mother from Hungary. At an early age he showed remarkable musical talent, and was initially taught privately: aged only seven, having heard Rossini’s Guillaume Tell and Il barbiere di Siviglia overtures for the first time, he was able to write them out from memory. When he was eleven years old he entered the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied violin with Hellmesberger and composition with Dessoff. He won prizes for his violin and piano playing, as well as for composition, and later commented that all conductors should learn the violin, both for its own sake and to acquire wrist control. He joined the Vienna Court Orchestra in 1874 and played under composers such as Brahms, Bruckner, Liszt, Verdi and Wagner, as well as major contemporary conductors including Herbeck and Dessoff. Nikisch was also a member of the orchestra which performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 ‘Choral’ under Wagner’s direction at the laying of the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festpielhaus.




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