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Felix Weingartner (1863 - 1942)

Felix Weingartner was born into an aristocratic Austrian family: his great-grandfather had been head of the mint in Vienna. After his father’s death in 1868, the family moved to Graz, where, after displaying precocious musical gifts, Felix was sent to the best local teacher, Wilhelm Mayer-Remy, for music lessons. He made swift progress and in 1881, following praise from Hanslick for his compositions, he won a scholarship to the Leipzig Conservatory. Here he studied composition, counterpoint and piano, but from the outset he was determined to make his professional career as a conductor. He came under the influence of Liszt in 1883, and his first opera, Sakuntala, was produced at Weimar during the following year. Shortly afterwards he was appointed to his first post, as chorusmaster and conductor at the Municipal Theatre in Königsberg. After one season there he moved to Danzig as second conductor for two seasons, and thence to Hamburg as first conductor under Hans von Bülow. Here he heard Tchaikovsky conduct his own works, and controversially offered a straightforward alternative to Bülow’s highly subjective interpretations. He began his first appointment as a chief conductor at Mannheim in 1889, where he also conducted orchestral concerts and came into close contact with Hugo Wolf. At the age of twenty-seven in 1891 he was appointed chief conductor at the Berlin Court Opera, thus achieving formal recognition of his gifts as a conductor of both opera and concerts. The strains of working in such a highly political environment, while at




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