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Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923 - 2013)

Sawallisch began to learn the piano at the age of five, studying theory and composition while still at school and subsequently becoming a pupil of Ruoff, Haas, and Sache in Munich, prior to joining the German army in 1942; following the end of World War II he completed his musical studies at the Munich High School for Music. He then joined the Augsburg Opera in 1947 as a répétiteur, and with the violinist Gerhard Seitz won the first prize for duo performances at the Geneva International Music Competition in 1949. Having made his début as a conductor with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel in 1950 at Augsburg, he shortly afterwards became first conductor there. He was Germany’s youngest general music director on his appointment to head the Aachen Opera in 1953, and was later recruited to the same post at Wiesbaden in 1958 and at Cologne in 1960. He also taught conducting at the Cologne Conservatory. Sawallisch conducted annually at the Bayreuth Festival from 1957 to 1961, opening the 1957 Festival with Tristan und Isolde. In the same year he made his English débuts as both an accompanist, with the soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and as a conductor, with her husband Walter Legge’s Philharmonia Orchestra. Legge also engaged him to make several important recordings, notably the first commercial release of Richard Strauss’s final opera, Capriccio.




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