C1894. HERBERT von KARAJAN Cond. Lucerne Festival Orch.: Coriolan Overture; Symphony #7 in A; w.WOLFGANG SCHNEIDERHAN: Violin Concerto in D (all Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1167, Live Performance, 27 Aug., 1955, Lucerne Festival. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“As always with Karajan, the distinction between his meticulous and sometimes rather over-wrought studio recordings and his live performances are noticeable. Even the choice of orchestra adds something to the magical and precise details that Karajan draws from both performances. That with his Berlin orchestra tended to be occluded by dense textures….[His] concerts with the Vienna Philhamonic [demonstrate] what clarity and definition and sheer grace there is in the Viennese playing….Throughout one is often spellbound by details here and there, playing of unusual poetry and a stunning use of dynamics. It doesn’t sound in the slightest forensic, but highly spontaneous, as a live performance ought to. It borders on the opulent but it has just the right amount of spikiness to bring the account alive….As is so often the case, personal bitterness can lead to artistic results at an unfathomable level. This was very much the case here, and just listening to these two performances you sense a conductor and orchestra so clearly meant to be making music together….”
- Marc Bridle, MusicWebInternational
"Wolfgang Schneiderhan was born on 28 May, 1915 in Vienna as the son of the actor Theodor Schneiderhan, and received his first violin lessons from his mother, the prominent zither virtuoso Emma Schneider-Fallmann. He performed in public for the first time as a child prodigy in 1920. He then studied with Julius Winkler in Vienna, and supplemented his training through studies with Otakar Sevcik in Pisek, as did his brother Walther, who later became concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony. By the end of the 1920s Wolfgang Schneiderhan's international career had begun, which would lead him to important centers of music and festivals worldwide. In addition to this, he developed a very successful orchestral career, becoming concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony in 1933 before taking up the same position with the Vienna State Opera on 1 September, 1937.
Shortly thereafter, together with Otto Strasser, Ernst Morawec und Richard Krotschak, he founded the Schneiderhan Quartet, an ensemble which existed until 1951. By then, Wolfgang Schneiderhan had already left the Philharmonic. His solo career was not compatible with work in the orchestra, and despite great efforts on the part of then chairman Rudolf Hanzl, he relinquished his orchestral duties on 31 May, 1949, although in the following years never did he lose contact with the orchestra. Even after parting with the string quartet he did not turn away completely from chamber music activities, as he continued to play piano trio with Edwin Fischer and Enrico Mainardi and violin sonatas with Carl Seemann. In September 1952 he made his benchmark Deutsche Grammophon recordings of all ten Beethoven violin sonatas with Wilhelm Kempff in the Konzerthaus, Mozartsaal, Vienna.
As successor to Georg Kulenkampf he directed master classes in violin at the International Music Festival in Lucerne, an institution which provided him a musical home for many decades. He was co-founder, together with Rudolf Baumgartner, of the renowned Festival Strings Lucerne in 1956. Schneiderhan's professorships at the Salzburg Mozarteum and Vienna College of Music are indicative of his lifelong activities as pedagogue, which he complemented through his endeavors as editor and publisher of numerous classical violin compositions, and articles and lectures pertaining thereto, which continued up until his death.
Wolfgang Schneiderhan was concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic for only 12 years; he appeared 80 times with the Vienna Philharmonic as soloist. The solo repertoire which he performed with the Philharmonic was predominantly made up of the violin concerti of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorák, as well as Mozart's Sinfonia concertante, Beethoven's 'Triple' Concerto, violin romances, and the 'Double' Concerto of Brahms. He also performed works by Arcangelo Corelli, Joseph Haydn, Giovanni Battista Viotti, Niccolo Paganini, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Edward Elgar, Edouard Lalo and Igor Stravinsky. Schneiderhan appeared with his wife, Irmgard Seefried, who sang Mozart's soprano aria 'Non temer, amato bene', KV 490, while he played the violin obbligato. The time span of Schneiderhan's appearances with the Vienna Philharmonic was longer than most musicians' entire professional career.
Wolfgang Schneiderhan performed with the most prominent musicians of the 20th century: Géza Anda, Karl Böhm, Edwin Fischer, Pierre Fournier, Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Gerhart Hetzel, Herbert von Karajan, Istvan Kertész, Hans Knappertsbusch, Clemens Krauss, Richard Krotschak, Enrico Mainardi, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, and Janos Starker. The most prominent admirer of his artistic ability was none other than Richard Strauss, who conducted concertmaster Schneiderhan in both of the legendary concerts on the occasion of the master's 75th and 80th birthdays in 1939 and again in 1944. For Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Schneiderhan was the measure of all things relating to the violin."
- Vienna Philharmonic
“No one would deny von Karajan’s position in the topmost ranks of 20th-century conductors. Inspired to conduct at the age of 20 when he heard Arturo Toscanini in Vienna, and Wilhelm Furtwängler's great rival from the early 1940s until the older maestro's death in 1954, Mr. Karajan once said that he had attempted to combine ‘Toscanini's precision with Furtwängler's fantasy’. But Mr. Karajan was always more than a mere conductor: he was a man of enormous energy and careerist determination, and he managed at his peak, in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, to tower over European musical life as no one had done before or is likely to do again. His nickname at the time was 'the general music director of Europe’, leading the Berlin Philharmonic, La Scala in Milan, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival.
Mr. Karajan's life was hardly untouched by controversy. His membership in the Nazi party from 1933, his lack of overt repentance for his thriving career during the Nazi years and his imperious personality made him many enemies. While he was always deeply respected as a conductor, some critics found his music-making increasingly slick and overrefined in his last decades. And his final years were clouded by a series of bitter battles with the Berlin Philharmonic, the West Berlin ensemble whose 'conductor for life' he became in 1955. He abruptly resigned his Berlin post in April, 1989, citing ill health.
Yet for all the tales of arrogance and self-indulgence, Mr. Karajan remained a masterly conductor, with a grasp of the standard orchestral and operatic repertory from Mozart through Schönberg that was unsurpassed among his peers. Always a champion of Mozart, Beethoven - whose symphony cycle he recorded three times - Wagner and Bruckner, he gradually extended his grasp to include Mahler and even Schönberg. He was also a lifelong admirer of Italian opera and, contrary to his domineering image, a champion of young talent, from the American soprano Leontyne Price to the Soviet pianist Yevgeny Kissin.
When critics complained that his performances in his later years had grown overrefined, he replied that 'if the details are right, the performance will work’. And to the very end, he drew playing of the utmost tonal beauty from his orchestras. The Berlin Philharmonic is widely regarded as the world's pre-eminent orchestra, if any one ensemble can stake that claim. And his performances at Carnegie Hall with the Vienna Philharmonic drew almost astonished enthusiasm from veteran observers for their sonic sumptuousness, even if not all the critics praised the musical results.
'The Karajan industry bears about the same relation to postwar European music that Krupp bore to prewar European steel production’, wrote Martin Mayer in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE in 1967. The classic, if perhaps apocryphal, Karajan anecdote had the conductor leaping into a taxi and, when asked his destination, replying: 'No matter. I am in demand everywhere’. Yet the conductor also had a spiritual side, and was a 40-year student of yoga and Zen Buddhism. He believed in reincarnation, and once dreamed of being reborn as an eagle, soaring above his beloved Alps
Fascinated by technical innovations, he once contemplated being frozen for 15 years so that he could re-record the standard repertory in the latest video and audio technology.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 July, 1989