C1626. JASCHA HORENSTEIN Cond. RTF S.O.: Symphony #1 in D (Prokofiev); Lied & Toccata (Tansman - World Premiere); Tod und Verklärung (Strauss); Symphony #3 in F (Brahms). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-612, Live Performance, 11 May, 1953, Victoria Hall, Geneva. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“A champion of modern music and an intellectual and philosophical conductor of a sort not much encountered any more, Jascha Horenstein moved to Vienna with his family at age six. He went on to study violin with Adolf Busch, Indian philosophy at the University of Vienna, and music at the Vienna School of Music. By 20 he had already decided to become a conductor and left Vienna for study in Berlin, where he conducted the Schubert Choir and became an assistant to Furtwängler. In 1924, he made his début with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducting Mahler's then-little-known First Symphony. From 1925 to 1928, he conducted the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and in 1929, as guest conductor, he led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of Alban Berg's LYRIC SUITE. As a young man he made the acquaintance of Schönberg, Webern, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Richard Strauss, Busoni, and Janácek, and frequently programmed their music for the rest of his life.
On Furtwängler's recommendation, Horenstein was appointed director of the Düsseldorf Opera in 1929, and remained there until, as a Jew, he was forced to leave Nazi Germany. In the 1930s he lived in Paris and traveled extensively, conducting in Brussels, Vienna, and the USSR, visiting Scandinavia with the Ballets Russe, and touring Australia and New Zealand. He settled in the U.S. in 1942, became a U.S. citizen, conducted many of the leading orchestras of both North and South America and was one of four conductors, including Toscanini, to conduct the newly formed Palestine Symphony Orchestra. Though in great demand from the 1930s onwards, Horenstein did not actively seek a permanent conductorship; he appeared to prefer to work on his own terms.
After the Second World War, Horenstein returned to Europe and lived in Lausanne, Switzerland. Highlights of his renewed European career came in 1950, when he introduced Berg's WOZZECK in Paris and in 1959 when his performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony for the BBC did much to stimulate a Mahler revival in Britain. After 1964, when he presented Busoni's DOKTOR FAUST in New York, he gave many concerts in London with the London Symphony Orchestra and in Manchester with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra. In his later years, he appeared frequently at London's Covent Garden.
From Furtwängler, Horenstein learned the importance in searching for the metaphysical rather than theoretical meaning of music, and that outlook coincided with his own interest in Eastern philosophy. As a conductor, Horenstein greatly admired Stokowski for his broad repertoire and the sense of occasion he brought to every performance. He was intolerant of routine performances, even from the greatest orchestras, and in rehearsal he would run through large sections of a work to establish coherence and continuity before proceeding to finer details of interpretation. In the words of his assistant Lazar, ‘[t]he exceptional unity and cohesion that characterized his performances arose from the way he controlled rhythm, harmony, dynamics and tempo so that each individual moment might achieve the most vivid characterization, but the overall line and cumulative effect would not be lost’."
- Roy Brewer, allmusic.com
“Alexandre Tansman is called both a French composer of Polish birth and a Polish composer who emigrated to France. However, he likely considered France his adopted homeland; except for the war years he lived in Paris from 1919 until his death in 1986, and he chose the French spelling of his given name, Aleksander.
In the French capital, he met the leading composers of the day, including Stravinsky and Ravel, whose music influenced his, particularly the neo-Classicism of the former. Tansman also developed a camaraderie with other European émigrés in Paris, including Tcherepnin and Martinù, and with Andrés Segovia, who inspired him to write several pieces for guitar. Tansman's successful concert debut in Paris in February 1920 opened inroads for his career as a pianist. He also composed many important works during his first decades in Paris, including the Symphony #2 (1926) and the first two piano concertos, 1925 and 1927, respectively. As early as 1921, Vladimir Golschmann introduced his orchestral work Impressions to Parisian audiences and with Koussevitzky, Tansman performed his piano concertos in Paris and Boston. In 1932, Tansman launched a world tour, performing in Japan, China, Singapore, Bali, Egypt, Greece, and other exotic locations. His career as pianist and composer remained quite successful throughout the 1930s and in 1938, he was given French citizenship. But trouble was on the horizon with the growing menace of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Shortly after the occupation of France in 1941, Tansman fled with his French wife, pianist Collete Cras, and two daughters. Helped by a fund established by Charlie Chaplin, they settled in Los Angeles that same year, where Tansman met other Jewish exiles, including Arnold Schonberg and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.”
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com