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Walter Goehr (1903 - 1960)


Born into a German-Jewish mercantile family, Walter Goehr showed early signs of exceptional musical gifts. After studying in Berlin at the Stern Academy and at the Prussian Academy of Arts, where he was a pupil of Schoenberg, he became musical director of the Reinhardt Theatre in Berlin. Here in 1927 he conducted Kurt Weill’s incidental music for a production of Strindberg’s play Gustav III directed by Victor Barnowsky. Between 1925 and 1931 Goehr was a staff conductor for Berlin Radio, where he composed the music for an early radio opera, Malpopita. With the rise to power of the National Socialist Party he left Germany and emigrated to England, where until 1948 he was known professionally as George Walter. Having been appointed musical director for the Columbia Graphophone Company, by then a part of EMI, in 1933, Goehr remained with the company until 1939 and recorded extensively for both the Columbia and HMV labels. In 1943 he became conductor of the Morley College concerts, a position which he retained for the rest of his life, and in addition was the conductor of the BBC Theatre Orchestra from 1945 to 1948.

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