Mitja Nikisch

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Mitja Nikisch in 1922

Mitja Nikisch was a classical pianist and dance band leader, born in Leipzig, Germany on May 21, 1899 and died in Venice, Italy on August 5, 1936.


Mitja Nikisch was the son of celebrated orchestral conductor Arthur Nikisch and, like his father, became a fine interpreter of classical works. Nonetheless, while respected in that literature—he made his debut as piano soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on April 22, 1918; performed with luminaries such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Sir Henry J. Wood; and composed a piano concerto, completed shortly before his death—he was most celebrated as leader of a popular jazz band in Berlin during the Weimar Republic era. The band played in fashionable clubs and included some of the most admired popular performers in Germany of the day; prominent guitarist Otto Sachsenhauer described it as "the best dance band ever heard in Berlin." The ascendence of the Nazi Party in Germany put an end to the band, however; despairing, Nikisch committed suicide.

He had been married to and divorced from stage and film actress Nora Gregor.


As a classical performer, Mitja Nikisch left some reproducing piano rolls and one commercial recording, a 1934 account of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Rudolf Schulz-Dornburg. The Tahra label reissued it in 2007 as part of a set of 4 compact discs (TAHRA 595-598).

Recordings by the Mitja Nikisch Tanz Orchester included one in 1931 of the Nacio Herb Brown-Arthur Freed tune for the MGM film Lord Byron of Broadway, Should I (Reveal Exactly How I Feel), in German as Ich kann, ich will with vocalist Paul Dorn.


  • [1]
  • The Music Sack [2]
  • Music Web International review of Tahra 595-598 [3]
  • Big Bands Database Plus [4]
  • Rob Wilton Theatricalia Promenade Concert Programmes [5]
See also: Nikisch