Erik Nitsche: Otto Klemperer
Artist: Erik Nitsche
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer of Jewish birth. After studying with Ivan Knorr at the conservatory in Frankfurt am Main, Klemperer followed Kwast to the Klindworth Scharwenka Conservatory in Berlin, where he also studied composition and conducting with Pfitzner. In 1906 he replaced Oskar Fried at the last moment to conduct Max Reinhardt's production of Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers at the Neues Theater in Berlin.
After 1918 Klemperer rapidly emerged as one of the leading German conductors of his generation (in 1923 he declined an appointment as musical director of the Berlin Staatsoper, where he felt he would have had insufficient artistic independence). His sympathy for and authoritative performances of an unusually wide range of contemporary music, as well as a less overtly emotional interpretation of the classics than had been common among older conductors, made him appear an expression of the 'new age'. He was therefore a natural choice as director when, in 1927, the Prussian Ministry of Culture set up a branch of the Berlin Staatsoper, whose special task was to perform new and recent works and repertory works in a non-traditional manner. This, the Staatsoper am Platz der Republik, played in the Kroll Theatre, from which it drew the name by which it is usually known.
In 1954 a contract to conduct and make recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London led to his appointment in 1955 as its principal conductor.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Germany 60pf Otto Klemperer stamp issued May 7, 1985.
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