Austria, the Second World War ended on April 27, 1945. In the years
to come an entire nation had to face what the Third Reich and its followers
had done to Austria and Austrian culture. The atmosphere looked really
grim and though many young Austrians had plans for a brighter future,
many had to wait to do what they wanted. Also 30 year old Kurt Wöss.
During the War he had been teaching at the Musik-Ademie and at the Musik-Schule
in Vienna. Now, after the war, he had to start all over again. He took
up the idea of reassembling and training the Niederösterreichisches
Tonkünstler Orchestra (Niederösterreichisches Sinfonieorchester
- Symphony Orchestra of Lower Austria) of which he became principal
conductor in 1948.
was born in Linz in Upper Austria on May 2nd, 1914. His formal musical
education took place at the 'State Academy of Music and the Performing
Arts' in Vienna were he studied under the university professors Egon
Joseph Wellesz (Austrian-English musicologist and composer who himself
had studied under Arnold Schönberg and Guido Adler), Robert
Lach (musicologist-composer), Alfred Orel (who, like Wellesz,
studied under Guido Adler), and he studied with musicologist Robert-Maria
Haas (who is famous for the restoration of the Bruckner Symphonies).
Robert-Maria Haas influenced Woss to a great extend.
The emphasis on musicology in Wöss's studies is not without
significance. It heightened his desire in giving a performance true
to the composer's intentions. This education laid the foundation that
made him later into a prominent advocate of and a devoted performer
of the works of Anton Bruckner. In 1975 he conducted the first performance
of the complete Novak Edition of Symphony No. 4 with the Munich Philharmonic.
This event took place in the Bruckner Haus in Linz (Austria).
Wöss at 36 (around 1950).
Picture taken from the cover of REMINGTON
R-199-97, edited and restored by R.A.B.
addition his studies as a private student of Felix Weingartner
(his subjects were violin and composition) are most significant for
the way Wöss developed his style of conducting. Woess was not only
noted for his musical perception and exactness of interpretation, he
also had a remarkable memory and it is said that he conducted most (if
not all) classical works that were on his repertoire without a
score. His repertory was extensive and ranged from J.S. Bach to the
more contemporary Béla Bartók.
the many famous orchestras which have played under his baton are: Swedish
Konsertforeningen, Augusteo Orchestra from Italy, L'Orchestre
de la Suisse Romande, Zürich Tonhalle-Orchester, the
Orchestra of the NHK (Japan; September 1951 August 1954
Principal Conductor), the Melbourne Symphony, and the famous
Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.
78 RPM recording of the Tonkuenstler Orchestra from before World
War II: Polyphon Record 100030 with Fantasy from "Cavalleria
Rusticana", Mascagni. It is not sure if this acoustical recording
from around 1923 was of the factual Tonkünstler Orchestra.
the SoundFountain Archive)
1938 on Kurt Wöss was a professor at the Musik Akademie
in Vienna. In order to have this post he had become a member of the
National Socialist Party (NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei).
Was this step taken out of a sincere conviction? Or did he join for
"practical" reasons because as a 24 year old he did not want
to jeopardize his career? In 1945 he was dismissed.
the years after the war he got involved with the Tonkünstler Orchestra
and by 1948 he became its principal conductor until 1951.
recording covers and labels this same orchestra is sometimes referred
to as 'Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society', 'Tonkünstler
Orchester' and 'Austrian Symphony Orchestra'. These names were probably
used for publicity reasons. The original Tonkünstler-Orchester
was founded in 1907 in Vienna, but soon after World War I had ended
(1918) it had a difficult time and was forced to fuse with the Wiener
Concertverein. After the Second World War the orchestra was newly organized.
At the basis was the "Niederösterreichische Landesorchester"
which was renamed Tonkuenstlerorchester. It was Kurt Wöss who reinstated
the Sunday Afternoon Concerts (which had been an institution before
Some well known and also famous names have swung the baton in front
of the musicians of the Tonkünstler Orchestra during Wöss's
reign and many after he had left for Japan. Among those were Gustav
Koslik who also can be found on the Remington label, Heinz Wallberg,
and Walter Weller (to name a few).
Wöss in his mid thirties conducting his Niederösterreiches
Tonkünstler-Orchester with solo violinist Walter Schneiderhan
in the Musikvereinssaal in Vienna in early 1950.
Picture courtesy Markus Hennerfeind, researcher
of the Tonkünstler Orchester.
was during 1950 and part of 1951, that the recordings with Kurt Wöss
were made for release on the Remington label. They were produced by
Marcel Prawy. In 1951, Kurt Wöss
went to Japan to be principal conductor of the Symphony Orchestra
of the Japanese National Broadcasting Corporation (NHK, Nippon Hoso
Kyokai), which is the most important orchestra of Japan. It was
Kurt Wöss who introduced the Japanese audience to Western (European)
music, even before Herbert von Karajan did. In Japan and also later
in Australia, he often conducted Bruckner Symphonies, he even performed
twelve tone compositions in Tasmania!
After Kurt Wöss had left
Vienna, recordings were now made with Gustav Koslik, Wilhelm Loibner,
H. Arthur Brown, a.o.
By the time Wöss left Tokyo in 1954 and returned to Vienna, Remington
Records was no longer procuring recordings made in Austria. Don Gabor
had signed a contract to make recordings in Berlin with the
RIAS Symphony Orchestra.)
a period of about two years, during which Kurt Wöss conducted concerts
in the USA as well, he took up the post of conductor of the Melbourne
based Victorian Symphony Orchestra until 1960. From 1961 till 1968 he
was director of the Opera of Linz, and he was principal conductor
of the Linz Bruckner Orchestra from 1961 till 1974, while his
wife, Dr. Margarethe Wöss, was music director in Linz from
1963 until 1987.
During his career Kurt Wöss also appeared as a guest conductor
of orchestras in other countries: L'Orchestre
du Conservatoire de Paris, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Bratislava
Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Municipal Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic
Orchestra, and many more.
Kurt Wöss died in Dresden on December 4, 1987, when he was billed
to conduct Bruckner's Fourth Symphony.
The Remington recordings of Kurt Wöss:
Beethoven: Emperor Concerto with pianist
in 1950) (Plymouth P-12-11.)
Schubert: Symphony No. 1, Mozart: Fantasia
Grieg: Piano Concerto Op. 16 with Felicitas Karrer (Released
1950.) The Masterseal release of the same recording was pressed
from Remington plates, first with the Masterseal label and later
with the Remington Musirama label, but without a reference number.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Tchaikovsky: Overture 1812
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto with
Michèle Auclair (reissue on Masterseal MSLP 5004)
Sibelius: Finlandia, Mozart: Overture to Thamos
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 with Felicitas Karrer (Released
1951.) (Plymouth P-12-12.) The first movement can also be found
on Twilight Concert No. 2, catalog number R-199-115.
Schubert: Symphony No. 4 "Tragic"
second cover - by Alex Steinweiss - for the recording of Schubert's
Brahms, Symphony No. 4
R-199-46 Mozart: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D
Schubert, Symphony No. 9, or 8R-199-87 Tchaikovsky: Ouverture
solennelle (re-release), Nutcracker Suite
RLP-199-54 Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, clarinet,
horn, bassoon and Orchestra. With two movements of
incidental music to Thamos, Koenig in Aegypten, conducted
by Felix Guenther.
R-199-88 Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet (Overture-Fantasia)
and Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches (Released November
Johann Strauss: Waltzes (4), coupled with Joseph Strauss "Dynamiden"
Mozart: Jupiter Symphony
Rossini: William Tell and Barber Of Seville Overtures, Bizet:
RLP-149-20 Paganini: Violin Concerto Op. 6 with Ivry
Gitlis plays Fritz Kreisler's completely reorchestrated first
movement of Paganini's First Violin Concerto, which is rarely
recorded; and it is only the one movement version spread over
two sides of a 10" disc.
Sibelius: Finlandia, Mozart: Thamos König in Aegypten
R-149-27 Famous Polkas and Waltzes - Strauss (apparently
also listed as Famous Operetta Marches)
Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches
Schubert: Symphony No. 6
Tchaikovsky: Fantasy Overture 'Romeo and Juliet' (also appeared
on R-199-88 coupled with Ippolotov-Ivanov's Caucasian Sketches
of R149-28. Also released as Masque M0.017 coupled with Capriccio
Italien by Rimsky-Korsakov and Procession of Bacchus by Delibes,
both conducted by Ernst Mehlich)
the reference numbers of the early releases was later changed
into R. So RLP-149-25 is the same as R-149-25.
On a Masterseal
MSLP 5008 from around 1957, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Schubert's
Symphony No. 8 can be found, whereas there exists no Remington disc
with this coupling conducted by Wöss. Beethoven's Fifth was released
on a 10" disc (R-149-9) with the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra conducted
Wolf and Schubert's Eighth was originally a recording with conductor
H. Arthur Brown (R-149-15). The name Wöss was probably a convenient
substitute, especially when Brown had fallen from grace.
for so many artists and conductors who appear on the Remington label,
also the performances of Kurt Wöss are "handicapped by a second
rate orchestra and mostly a poor recording quality", as Warren
DeMotte wrote in
Long Playing Record Guide.
There must be other performances of Wöss recorded in Austria, Sweden,
Australia and Japan. In recent years more recordings of Kurt Wöss
have been made available, mostly from broadcasts, and have probably
been transferred to CD: Bruckner, Wagner, Mozart.
Wöss at 60.
(Image taken from the Dutch record review "Luister...",
There is a technically beautifully recorded Telefunken 'Royal Sound'
Stereo LP from the early stereo days on which Wöss conducts the
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in popular pieces by Bizet, Tchaikovsky,
Bruch (with violinist Henri Lewkowitz), Glazunov, Weber and Grieg (Telefunken
SLE 4 450-P).
recording of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony by Woess and the Munich Philharmonic
which can be found on Bruckner Haus Linz LP 2/12430-315. It is
of the original version composed in 1874, edited by Leopold Nowak, published
in 1975. Robert McColley wrote that this version is quite different
from the later versions, and especially so in the case of the scherzo
which is an entirely different movement. The 1874 version has now been
recorded several times, but the recording by Woess was the first and
is still regarded as one of the best.
There exists a private issue on CD, Lucky Ball LB 0010 S, of
Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 with Kurt Wöss conducting the Vienna
Tonkuenstler Symphony Orchestra.
On OPUS Stereo
9116 0693, (from Slovakia) Wöss conducts the Slovak Philharmonic
in 'Operetta Overtures' - Fledermaus/The Bat (Johann Srauss), Parisian
Life/La vie parisienne (Offenbach), Beautiful Galathea/Die schöne
Galathea (Von Suppé), The Land of Smiles/Das Lands des Lächelns
(Lehar), Overture (Nedbal) and Czardas Princess/Czardasfürstin
(Kálmán). It was recorded in the Slovak Philharmonic Concert
Hall in Bratislava in February 1979.
A. Bruil. Page created and first published in the fall of 2000