Walther Gruner

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Walther Gruner (born Walther Karl Grünebaum) b. 25 September 1905 Blumenstrasse 13, Frankfurt am Main of Jewish parents, d. 5 January 1980 London was a singing teacher and baritone singer who taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He arrived in England in 1933, having left Germany because the Nazis were in power. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1946, and married English mezzo-soprano Mercia Glossop (later Mercia Tinker) in 1951. They later divorced; she married Rex Harrison in 1979.

  • Father: Julius Grünebaum (a merchant), born in Giessen, Hessen
  • Mother: Klara Lina Grünebaum née Oppenheim (a music teacher)
  • Both parents perished in the Holocaust.
  • Sister: Hedi Frank (b.1900) (a chiropodist who moved to Australia in 1939)
  • Uncle: Hermann Grunebaum (pianist and conductor - Chorus Master at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from 1907 to 1933.)
  • Cousin: Nora Gruhn (Grunebaum) (English-born soprano)

Biographical note: He attended the Hoch Conservatory, Frankfurt, the Music Conservatory, Leipzig, and the Vienna Conservatory of Music. He studied with Swedish baritone Hjalmar Arlberg (voice) in Leipzig, and in Vienna with Lothar Wallerstein. Other musical studies were with Paul Bekker and Arthur Seidl. He had conducted a choir while a student, and became Assistant to Paul Bekker, who was then Intendant of Wiesbaden State Opera. He took the surname Gruner in 1928. From 1935-1939 he lectured at the City Literary Institute, London, and in 1940 was interned on the Isle of Man for 5 months. From 1945 to 1979 he was professor of singing and German Lieder at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. He was a jury member on a number of international music festivals, including Bayreuth in 1974, lectured extensively in the US and Australia, and was the London Correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung. He sang as baritone soloist on the BBC in the 1950s and recorded German Lieder and folksongs for Linguaphone under the listing German Songs, Series A. Titles are as follows:

  • Horch, was kommt von draussen rein
  • Muss I denn
  • Der Lindenbaum (Am Brunnen vor dem Tore)
  • Muss I denn
  • Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen
  • Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär
  • O du lieber Augustin
  • Im Wald und auf der Haide
  • Ich bin der Doktor Eisenbart
  • Fuchs, du hast die gans gestohlen
  • Alle Vogel sing schon da
  • Gute Kamerad
  • Sah ein Knab ein Röslein stehn
  • Wiegenlied, op.49 no.4 (Brahms)
  • Mai ist gekommen
  • Ach, wie ist's möglich dann

These recordings can be heard at the British Library with the following shelf mark numbers: 1SE0048311, 1SE0048312, 1SE0048313, 1SE0048314, 1SE0048315 Some are also held in the historical sound archives of the Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf.

His students included baritones Geraint Evans and Benjamin Luxon, and sopranos Jill Gomez and Patricia Rozario.

After his death, an annual song prize was founded in his name - The Walther Gruner International Lieder Competition. The first winner was Olaf Bär.[1] This competition is no longer held.

He was a contributor to the book
Tensions in the Performance of Music: A Symposium (Ed. Carola Grindea, Broude 1978)

Note: Gruner usually spelled with no umlaut on the u.

Date of birth and other birth details:
1. Birth Certificate held by the Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main (Year 1905, page 296, no.1492)
2. Compensation record held by the Hessian State Archives (Sign.: Abt. 518 Nr. 55179 Bd. 1 u. 2, Abt. 518 Nr. 12614). This Information is available in the online Encyclopedia of NS-persecuted musicians [1]

Date of British Naturalisation - London Gazette 26 Nov 1946.
Marriage - Ancestry.com

Biographical note - Information taken from Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933–1945 ed. Werner Röder, Herbert A. Strauss, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration, New York (corrected for final year of teaching at the GSM&D); and BBC Genome website.

Date of death - Index of Wills in the UK National Probate Calendar.


  1. ^ Europa Publications (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-85743-217-6.