This week, The Music Treasury is presenting recordings of the conductor Josef Krips.  Krips was a significant figure in the world 20th century conducting, leading orchestras and opera houses in Boston, San Francisco, Vienna, London, and Berlin.  Quite comfortable with the standard literature of the day, Krips also championed new composers, and featured many world premiers under his baton.

The show is aired on KZSU in the Bay Area on Sunday evening, from 19:00-21:00 PST, and is streamed concurrently on the web through the host station at Stanford  University, kzsu.stanford.edu.  As always, the show is hosted by none other than Dr Gary Lemco.

Josef Alois Krips, conductor

Josef Alois Krips (8 April 1902 – 13 October 1974) was an Austrian conductor and violinist. Krips was born in Vienna. His father, Josef Jakob Krips, was a medical doctor and amateur singer; his mother was Aloisia, née Seitz. Krips was one of five sons. He became a pupil of Felix Weingartner and Eusebius Mandyczewski. From 1921 to 1924, he served as Weingartner’s assistant at the Vienna Volksoper, and also as répétiteur and chorus master. He then conducted several orchestras, including in Karlsruhe from 1926 to 1933. In 1933 he returned to Vienna as a resident conductor of the Volksoper and a regular conductor at the Wiener Staatsoper. He was appointed professor at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1935, and conducted regularly at the Salzburg Festival between 1935 and 1938.

In 1938, the Nazi annexation of Austria (or Anschluss) forced Krips to leave the country. (He was raised a Roman Catholic, but would have been excluded from musical activity because his father was born Jewish.) Krips moved to Belgrade, where he worked for a year with the Belgrade Opera and Philharmonic, until Yugoslavia also became involved in World War II. For the rest of the war, he worked as an “industrial clerk” in a food factory.

On his return to Austria at the end of the war in 1945, Krips was one of the few conductors allowed to perform, since he had not worked under the Nazi régime. He was the first to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic and the Salzburg Festival in the postwar period. Working with fellow conductors Clemens Krauss and Karl Böhm, Krips helped restore the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic to their prewar levels.

From 1950 to 1954, Krips was principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. From 1954-1963, he led the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra  lengthened its performance season and increased its number of musicians. Krips took the orchestra on tours in the eastern U. S. and Canada. During his time with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Krips largely eschewed recent compositions and “concentrated largely in European classical and romantic literature.” Later, during his final seasons, he began to program “a few contemporary works.”

Krips guest conducted many other orchestras. For example, in February 1960 he conducted the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in works by Mozart and Brahms. He appeared as guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic in 1964, performing works by Brahms, Copland, and Schumann.  From 1963 to 1970, Krips served as the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, conducting 210 works during this tenure. Of these, 91 were by twentieth century composers. In San Francisco, Krips conducted several world premieres, e.g., the First Symphony of Kirke Mechem in 1965, and William Walton’s Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten in 1970.

Krips made his Covent Garden debut in 1947 and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966, guest conducting frequently from then on. He made his first appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the 1968 Berkshire Festival. In 1970, he became conductor of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and from 1970 to 1973, was the principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony.

Portrait of Josef Krips

Josef Krips

Krips was twice married. His first wife was Maria “Mitzi” Wilheim, a singer whom he had coached, and then married in 1947. They remained together until her death on April 8, 1969. In October, 1969, he married his second wife, who, according to The New York Times, was “the former Baroness Marietta von Prohaska,” whom the paper noted that was his “29‐year‐old secretary.” Other sources list the name of Krips’ second wife as “Harrietta Krips.” In Krips’ Reuters obituary notice, her name is given as “the Baroness Henriette Prochazka.” The Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives has a photograph of Krips and his second wife attending a Tanglewood concert, where she is identified as “Baroness Harriet Prochazka.” Krips’ second wife died on January 12, 2015.

Krips’ brother, Henry Krips, emigrated to Australia and was the chief conductor of the South Australian Symphony Orchestra (later known as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra) for 23 years (1949-1972). Both brothers appeared together as conductors at a 1963 concert of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Krips’s first recording was made for Odeon Records in Vienna on 13 January 1937, conducting the Orchestra of the Wiener Staatsoper in two Rossini numbers from the Bernhard Paumgartner operetta Rossini in Neapel. Krips had conducted the Vienna premiere of the work ten days earlier. In 1950, Krips and the London Symphony Orchestra made a well-received recording of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony (London LPS 86). In 1955, he made a critically acclaimed recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Vienna State Opera. Krips conducted Symphony of the Air stereo recordings of the five Beethoven piano concertos with Arthur Rubinstein for RCA Victor in 1957. With the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, Rubinstein and Krips also recorded Brahms Second Piano Concerto in 1958.

During the years 1950-1958, Krips recorded various works by Mozart, Brahms, Dvořák, Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Haydn, and Felix Mendelssohn. These performances included the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic. In January 1960, he recorded Beethoven’s nine symphonies for Everest Records with the London Symphony Orchestra.

During the 1970s, Krips and the Concertgebouw Orchestra recorded Mozart’s late symphonies for Philips Records. These have been reissued by Philips and Decca. Krips did not make any commercial recordings with the San Francisco Symphony, although many of his concerts were broadcast in stereo by San Francisco station KKHI.

Krips died of lung cancer at 72 in Geneva, Switzerland in 1974.  [adapted from Wikipedia]

Program List:
Honegger: Symphony No. 2 for Strings
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16 (w/Shura Cherkassky)
Mozart: 2 Arias from “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” K. 384 W/L. Popp)
Stravinsky: Excerpts from “The Firebird” – Suite
Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68