The Music Treasury for 13 January 2019 — Jascha Horenstein, Conductor
Jascha Horenstein, conductor
The distinguished Russian-born American conductor, Jascha Horenstein (1898-1973), began his musical training in Königsberg as a piano student of his mother. He also studied with Max Brode. In 1911 his family moved to Vienna, where he studied philosophy at the University and, starting in 1916, was a pupil of A. Busch (violin), Joseph Marx (music theory), and Franz Schreker (composition) at the Vienna Academy of Music. He then continued his training with Franz Schreker at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik.
From 1920, he was an assistant to Wilhelm Furtwängler in Berlin, and began his career conducting the Schubert Choir there. In 1923 he was a guest conductor with the Wiener Symphoniker. Returning toBerlin, he conducted the Blüthner Concerts (1924) and was conductor of the Berliner Symphoniker(1925-1928); he also appeared as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He became principal conductor of the Düsseldorf Opera in 1928, and in 1929 the company’s Generalmusikdirektor, but was removed from that position in March 1933 by the Nazi regime because he was a Jew. His Düsseldorf tenure was the only permanent musical directorship in his career. After conducting in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Palestine, he went to the USA in 1940 and became a naturalized American citizen. He also taught at the New School for Social Research while in New York City.
Following the end of World War II, Horenstein resumed his career in Europe. He became especially admired in England, where he appeared as a guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1961 he made his debut at London’s Covent Garden conducting Fidelio. His final operatic, and British, engagement was his March 1973 performances of Richard Wagner’sParsifal at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
While Horenstein’s repertoire ranged widely from the Baroque era to the 20thcentury, he is particularly remembered as a champion of modern music and as a Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler conductor. In 1929 he conducted the premiere of three movements of Alban Berg‘s Lyric Suitein an arrangement for string orchestra. In 1950, he conducted the first Paris performance of Berg‘s Wozzeck. Horenstein conducted the works of Bruckner and Mahler throughout his career, and displayed ongoing interest in Carl Nielsen, whom he knew personally, at a time when these composers were unfashionable. For example, his 1952 Vox recording of Mahler‘s Symphony No. 9was the first studio recording, and the second commercial record, of that work. Several years later, he recorded the original version of Bruckner’sSymphony No. 9. He made studio recordings of several of Mahler‘s symphonies, including Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra. A number of radio archives hold broadcast airchecks of many of the other Mahler symphonies, as well asDas Lied von der Erde.
Korngold: Prelude and Carnival Music from Violanta
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major (w/M. Haas)
Schoenberg: Verklaerte Nacht, Op. 4
Schreker: Prelude to a Drama
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82