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Dr. Paul Steinitz (Conductor, Organ)

Born: August 25, 1909 - Chichester, West Sussex, England
Died: April 21, 1988 - Old Oxted, Surrey, England

The English organist and conductor, (Charles) Paul (Joseph) Steinitz, was educated privately and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and also privately with George Oldroyd. From 1933 to 1942 he served as church organist in Ashford, Kent where his interest in the music of J.S. Bach began in earnest while studying for his Doctorate in Music (University of London, 1940).

In 1946 Paul Steinitz founded the (South) London Bach Society - as the Society's reputation grew and its membership spread 'South' was later dropped from the title. The London Bach Society was founded to be a focus for the study and performance of Bach in its original form and to do this Dr.Steinitz founded the choir (1947) and his own professional orchestra, Steinitz Bach Players (1968). He also served as Director of Music (and organist) at the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great in London from 1949 to 1961, as Senior and then Principal Lecturer at University of London Goldsmiths' College (1945-1977) and Professor at the Royal Academy of Music (1945-1984). In 1969 he founded the Steinitz Bach Players, which he conducted on tours.

Paul Steinitz was acknowledged to be one of the leading authorities on the music of J.S. Bach during his lifetime. He was one of the pioneers in the area of authentic Baroque performance practice in the UK, responsible for introducing a number of important features in the performance of the music that are now established procedures and various period instruments to the chamber orchestra before many other musicians dared e.g. the clarino trumpet, cornet, sackbut and Baroque flute.

Of his many major musical achievements two are perhaps the most signficant in Britain: In 1952 Paul Steinitz presented the first performance in England of St.Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in its complete and original German form and in 1958, Dr. Steinitz embarked upon the first complete cycle of J.S. Bach's extant church and secular cantatas to be presented in public concerts in the UK using professional forces, a project finished in 1987. Many of the concerts were broadcast, and he took his musical forces on tour to USA, East Germany (including Leipzig twice), and Bulgaria amongst others. In addition Dr. Steinitz also pioneered the music of Heinrich Schütz and prepared editions published by Oxford University Press.

Paul Steinitz was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Organists and was appointed OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours of 1985 for his services to music. He published Bachís Passions (London, 1979). After his death, the London Bach Society was restructured and now promotes its main public work through the annual London Bach Festival held in the autumn. It is a unique Society in the UK and will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary) in 2006.

Source: Margaret Steinitz (March 2002); Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Margaret Steinitz (March 2002); Manfred Krugmann (Photo 03, June 2012)

Paul Steinitz: Short Biography | London Bach Society | Steinitz Bach Players | Recordings of Vocal Works

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