OP0055. Capriccio (Strauss), Broadcast Performance, 1953, w.Clemens Krauss Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks Ensemble; Ursuleac, Schmitt-Walter, Schock, Hotter, Töpper, Braun, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0032. - 4035122650327
“Clemens Heinrich Krauss was a leading Austrian conductor, particularly associated with the music of Richard Strauss, who got to his major positions by the resignation of conductors less sympathetic to the German Nazi regime.
His mother was Clementine Krauss, a leading Viennese actress and singer. He was also related to Gabrielle Krauss (1842 - 1904), an important nineteenth century soprano. His father was a figure in the Austrian Imperial Court. When Clemens went into music, he used his mother's name because of its theatrical history.
When he was a boy, he was a chorister in the Hofkapelle (Imperial Choir). He attended the Vienna Conservatory, graduating in 1912. He studied composition with Grädener and theory with Heuberger. After graduation he was chorus master in the Brünn Theater (1912 - 1913), and there he made his conducting début in 1913.
He made the rounds of regional centers, conducting in Riga (1913 - 1914), Nüremberg (1915), and Sczeczin (1916 - 1921). The latter appointment gave him ample opportunity to travel to Berlin to hear Artur Nikisch conduct the Philharmonic, a major influence. His next appointment was back in Austria, where he became director of the opera and symphony concerts in Graz. In 1922 he joined the conducting staff of the Vienna State Opera and teacher of the conducting class at the State Academy of Germany. In 1923 he became conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Concerts (until 1927), and Intendant of the opera in Frankfurt am Maine and director of the Museum Concerts in 1924, until 1929.
He visited the United States in 1929, conducting in Philadelphia and at the New York Philharmonic. Also in 1929 he was appointed director of the Vienna State Opera. Its orchestra, in its independent concert form as the Vienna Philharmonic, appointed him its music director in 1930. He was a regular conductor at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1934. In 1933 and 1934 he gave up his Vienna positions, becoming director of the Berlin State Opera in 1935 after Erich Kleiber resigned in protest over Nazi rule. Leaving Austria for Nazi Germany was no hardship for Krauss, who was a friend of both Hitler and Göring. In 1933 he took over the preparations for the premieres of Strauss' opera ARABELLA when the principled conductor Fritz Busch left. In 1937 he was appointed Intendant of the Munich National Theater, following the resignation there of Knappertsbusch. He became a close friend of Richard Strauss, wrote the libretto to the opera CAPRICCIO (which he premiered in Munich in 1942), and DER LIEBE DER DANAE. He also conducted the premiere of Strauss' anti-War cantata ‘Friedenstag’.
After the Munich opera house was bombed, shutting it down, he returned to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra until it closed shortly before the end of the War (1944 - 1945). After the War, Allied officials investigated his pro-Nazi activities and because of them forbade him from appearing in public until 1947. Notably, however, they also found that he had frequently acted to assist a number of individual Jews escape the Third Reich machine. When his ban was lifted he resumed frequently conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, including its famous New Years Day concerts.
He conducted at Covent Garden in London (1951 to 1953) and in the 1953 Bayreuth Festival [whose RING of that season is famously notable]. He was married to the soprano Viorica Ursuleac. He was in Mexico on vacation when he died there in 1954.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Viorica Ursuleac was Richard Strauss' favorite soprano, and he called her ‘die treueste aller Treuen’ (‘the most faithful of all the faithful’). She sang in the world premières of four of his operas: ARABELLA (1933), FRIEDENSTAG (which was dedicated to Ursuleac and Krauss, 1938), CAPRICCIO (1942), and the public dress-rehearsal of DIE LIEBE DER DANAE (1944).
She appeared at the Salzburg Festival (1930-34 and 1942-43) and in one season at Covent Garden (1934), where she sang in the first performances in England of Jaromír Weinberger's SCHWANDA THE BAGPIPER and ARABELLA (her favorite rôle). She also appeared as Desdemona in Verdi's OTELLO at the Royal Opera, with Lauritz Melchior in the title rôle, Sir Thomas Beecham conducting.
The prima donna was created an Austrian Kammersängerin in 1934, a Prussian Kammersängerin in 1935, and gave her farewell in 1953, in Wiesbaden, in DER ROSENKAVALIER. She was appointed Professor at the Salzburg Mozarteum in 1964.
Ursuleac's voice was not of great beauty, at least as recorded, but she was reckoned a great musician and actress. In the words of one colleague, the soprano Hildegard Ranczak, ‘Although she had a lovely, facile top, I was constantly amazed at the two hours' vocalizing she went through before each performance. Hers was, in my opinion, a marvelously constructed, not really natural voice which she used with uncanny intelligence’. Ursuleac died at the age of ninety-one, in the village of Ehrwald in Tyrol, where she had resided since before the death in 1954 of her husband, Clemens Krauss.”
“Hotter was far, far more than a Wagnerian….[he] sang Lieder at recitals and in the studio throughout his timeless career….All his interpretations evinced a care over matching text to music. Even in Wagner he gave a Lieder singer's attention to the words….In private he was a gentle giant, an engaging raconteur and an intelligent observer of the musical scene”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, March, 2004