Walter Goehr

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Walter Goehr (28 May 1903 – 4 December 1960) was a German composer and conductor.

Goehr was born in Berlin, where he studied with Arnold Schoenberg and embarked on a conducting career, before being forced as a Jew to seek employment outside Germany, while working for Berlin Radio in 1932. He was invited to become music director for the Gramophone Company (later EMI), so he moved to London. In 1937 he conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere recording of Bizet's Symphony in C.[1] During his years as a staff conductor for EMI, he conducted the orchestra for many recordings, including those of Beniamino Gigli, Richard Tauber, and Joseph Schmidt. In more popular items, his name appears on the record labels as 'G. Walter'. In addition, he conducted for many concerto recordings, including some by Benno Moiseiwitsch, Myra Hess and others. After the war he conducted for several smaller recording companies based in Europe, including for the concerto recordings of Noel Mewton-Wood.

As well as teaching composition in Britain, he also instructed pupils in conducting, one of whom was the young Wally Stott, later known as Angela Morley. In England he worked for the Columbia Record Company, and between 1945 and 1948 was conductor of the BBC Theatre Orchestra (the predecessor of today’s BBC Concert Orchestra); he was also a skilled arranger. He was one of many musicians of European origin and training recruited by Michael Tippett to the staff of Morley College. Goehr conducted many important premieres at Morley, including the first British performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.

His first successful work was Malpopita in 1931, an opera especially designed for being broadcast. This work was scheduled for its first live performance on 6 May 2004, in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, Abspannwerk Humboldt.

In 1942, he made a new arrangement of Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition, with a subsidiary piano part. In 1946, he arranged a number of Mussorgsky's piano pieces into the orchestral suite Pictures from the Crimea. In 1947, Goehr composed the music for the much acclaimed film Great Expectations, directed by David Lean. He wrote several other film scores. He was also well known as a conductor of film soundtracks, including A Canterbury Tale, for which his friend Allan Gray had composed the score.

In 1952 he conducted the first recording of L'incoronazione di Poppea, conducting the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich in a live stage performance. The LP version was issued in 1954 and won a Grand Prix du Disque in 1954.[2]

He conducted the UK premiere of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie in 1953.

He died in the City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom, on 4 December 1960, immediately after conducting a performance of Handel's Messiah.

His son Alexander Goehr is a composer living in the United Kingdom.

References[edit]

  1. ^ CHARM (Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music). In London at Studio No. 1, Abbey Road for HMV on 26 November 1937.
  2. ^ "Trade News". Gramophone (London: Haymarket): 95. November 1954. Retrieved 8 November 2009.