Stamp of the Month: July 2023

Otto Klemperer

The German conductor Otto Klemperer is considered one of the great conductors of the 20th century. He was born in Breslau on 14 May 1885 and died in Zurich on 6 July 1973 at the age of 88. July 2023 will be the 50th anniversary of his death.
Otto Klemperer studied at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt and with Hans Pfitzner at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. There he met Gustav Mahler,

Germany / Berlin 7.5.1985
with whom he became close friends. After a position at the German Opera in Prague and the City Theatre in Hamburg, he was Kapellmeister in Barmen, Strasbourg and Cologne, where he was appointed General Music Director in 1923. This was followed by the opera in Wiesbaden, the Kroll Opera in Berlin and finally the State Opera in Berlin in 1931. His commitment to contemporary music attracted international attention, but led to a performance ban by the Nazis in 1933. Otto Klemperer emigrated to the USA and took over the direction of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. After the war, he was appointed music director of the Budapest Opera, went to the USA again in 1951, and from 1955 was principal conductor of the London Philharmonia Orchestra for life. After an operation on a brain tumour (1939), Klemperer was partially paralysed and from the 1950s could only conduct sitting down. From 1961 he also conducted operas again and staged some operas himself at Covent Garden (Fidelio 1961; Zauberflöte 1962; Lohengrin 1963).
In the 1930s Otto Klemperer had studied composition with Arnold Schönberg and left behind as a composer an opera, six symphonies, a mass, chamber music and a number of song compositions.

Otto Klemperer conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra in 1970 at the Royal Festival Hall London: Beethoven Symphony No. 6 in F (Pastoral) Op.68