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Jascha Horenstein (1899 - 1973)

Jascha Horenstein’s father was Russian, and his mother Austrian: it was she who taught him to play the piano. When he was six the family moved from Kiev to Königsberg, and thence to Vienna in 1911; here he studied Indian philosophy at the university and violin with Adolph Busch. From 1917 he was in addition a student of composition with Franz Schreker and of theory with Joseph Marx at the Vienna Academy of Music. Horenstein began to conduct in 1919, when he founded the ‘Freie Orchester-Vereinigung’ (Free Orchestra Association) of students and amateurs, but when Schreker moved to Berlin in 1920 to teach at the High School for Music, Horenstein followed him, becoming a member of the same composition class as Aloys Hába and Ernst Krenek. His decision to make conducting his career came as a result of his early concert-going and the experience of hearing Nikisch, Walter and Weingartner: indeed he once said that he never conducted Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 without hearing Nikisch’s performance in his mind. In 1922 he became conductor of the Berlin Schubert Choir and the Gemischter Choir, and in the following year was engaged as Furtwängler’s assistant, rehearsing Bach’s B minor Mass for him at Frankfurt am Main.



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