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William Steinberg (1899 - 1978)

William Steinberg was clear about the future direction of his life from an early age: when he was only thirteen years old he conducted his own setting for chorus and orchestra of excerpts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in addition to being active as a pianist and violinist. He studied piano, theory and conducting at the Cologne Conservatory, where his tutors included Hermann Abendroth, and graduated in 1919, winning the Wüllner Prize for conducting. He immediately joined the Cologne Orchestra as a second violinist, only to be dismissed by Otto Klemperer for using his own bowings. Shortly afterwards however Klemperer took him on as an unpaid assistant, and in June 1922 he conducted Halévy’s La Juive at short notice. Promoted to the post of principal conductor at Cologne in 1924, during the following year Steinberg succeeded Zemlinsky at the German Theatre in Prague; and after making his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the beginning of 1929 he was appointed chief conductor of the Frankfurt Opera. Here he led the first performances of George Antheil’s Transatlantic and Schoenberg’s Von Heute auf Morgen, as well as the local premières of Berg’s Wozzeck and Weill’s Aufsteig und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. In addition he appeared regularly in Berlin at the Staatsoper.



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