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Willem Mengelberg (Conductor)

Born: March 28, 1871 - Utrecht, Holland
Died: March 21, 1951 - Chur, Switzerland

The celebrated Dutch conductor, (Josef) Willem Mengelberg, studied in Utrecht under Richard Hol, Henri Wilhelm Petri and Anton Averkamp and then went to the Music School in Cologne to study under Franz Wüllner and Adolf Jensen; he took first prize in piano, composition and orchestral conducting.

Willem Mengelberg made his debut as a pianist at a very young age and took over leadership of the Lucerne City Conservatory in 1891. Only four years later, in 1895, he was nominated musical director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and did not leave this post until 1945. At the same time, he became conductor of the internationally famous Amsterdam Toonkunst choir, which he incorporated into performances of orchestral works requiring large choirs, such as his annual performance of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) by J.S. Bach. He met and befriended Gustav Mahler in 1902, after which date Mengelberg tirelessly promoted G. Mahler's works. From 1907 to 1920, he conducted the Frankfurt Museum concerts and from 1921 to 1929 the New York National Symphony Orchestra. During this time, he entrusted the Concertgebouw Orchestra to various principal guest conductors, such as Bruno Walter, Karl Muck and Pierre Monteux. Mengelberg then returned to Amsterdam after differences with Arturo Toscanini, with whom he had conducted the New York Orchestra on equal terms (1928-1929). Utrecht University set up a chair for him in 1933, but he never taught there other than holding his inaugural lecture. He was forbidden to work in Holland in 1945 due to his co-operation with the occupation troops and went to Switzerland for the rest of his life.

Willem Mengelberg is one of the most important G. Mahler interpreters of his generation. In 1920, he conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam in all ten G. Mahler symphonies in nine concerts for his twenty-fifth anniversary with the orchestra. He promoted contemporary music and conducted first performances of the works of the following composers: Henk Badings Symphony No.1 (1930) and Symphony No. 3 (1935), Béla Bartók Concerto for violin and orchestra No. 2 (1939) with Zoltan Szekely, Paul Hindemith Der Schwanendreher (1935) with assistance from the composer and Konzert für Violine und Orchester (1940), Zoltan Kodaly Suite from Hary Janos (1927) and Felszallott a pava (1939), Darius Milhaud Carnaval d'Aix (1926), Max Reger Konzert im alten Stil (1912) and Ottorino Respighi Concerto in modo misolido (1924).

More Pictures

Source: Great Conductors Online Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2001)

Willem Mengelberg: Short Biography | Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam | Recordings of Vocal Works | BWV 244 - W. Mengelberg

Links to other Sites

Josef Willem Mengelberg (Great Conductors Online)
Great Historical Musicians
The Life And Art Of Willem Mengelberg
Willem Mengelberg
Discography of Willem Mengelberg ver. 0103

Willem Mengelberg: The Columbia Recordings, Classical Notes
xrefer: Mengelberg, Willem (1871 - 1951)
Willem Mengelberg (Dutch Divas)
Willem Mengelberg (Orchestra Conductors)
Willem Mengelberg (Hubert Wendel) [French/English]

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