B1469. BRUNO WALTER. Theme and Variations [Autobiography]. New York, Knopf, 1966. 364pp. Index; Photos; DJ. Fifth USA Edition.
A sincere, professional life story in which the German conductor, at 70, tells of his career in terms of his musical transformations and developments, from his early on to his mature experiences. From a modest, reformed Jewish family of Berlin, his early musical inclinations were sympathetically catered to by his family. At 15, he gave up formal education to devote himself to his career as a pianist, but conducting proved to be his real ambition, and his first engagement, at 17, was in Cologne. There, as coach and chorus master, he found sureness in his ability. Friendship and admiration for Mahler was a determining factor in his advance, and European experiences gave him an international reputation, so that he spent 12 years in Vienna, 10 in Munich. The revolutions in Germany brought him to slow awareness of political upheaval, but his optimism kept him from realizing how much he would be effected. He know the U.S. in the '20's, and found warm audiences here. The Hitlerian persecution roused him to his danger, and via Switzerland he reached America, to stay permanently. Throughout the record are names famous in music, events important in European history, and a vast wealth of artistic detail... An honest evaluation of a professional life, a subjective examination of personal development and artistic yield, this is of special appeal for the serious musical market.
- KIRKUS REVIEW
"While rehearsing Mahler's ninth symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic, Nazis entered the theater to take Walter. The orchestra hurried the maestro out the back door. He left for Austria and did not see his family for five years. Later, when listening to a playback of a Columbia recording of the first movement of the ninth symphony, principal players of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra were ushered out of the booth as Walter began to weep. After the door was closed, the musicians were told, 'Gentlemen, you must excuse him. This was the place in the symphony when the Nazis entered the hall. He was smuggled out the back door and didn't see his family for five years'. [told by James Decker, principal horn of the Columbia Symphony and witness to the event]."
- Zillah Dorset Akron