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Wolfgang Schneiderhan & Willi Boskovsky

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This release pairs two distinguished Viennese violinists, Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Willi Boskovsky. They were taped a year apart, Schneiderhan in Berlin in 1943 and Boskovsky in Vienna the following year. None of these rare performances for German Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft have been published before.


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WOLFGANG SCHNEIDERHAN and WILLI BOSKOVSKY play Mozart and Dvorák – Wartime German Radio Recordings

‘Legendary Concertmasters of the Vienna Philharmonic’

1-3. MOZART: Violin Concerto No.5 in A Major, K.219 [28:09]
Recorded · 07 April 1943 · Berlin · Masurenallee · Haus des Rundfunks · Saal 1 · Reichssender Berlin · Live Recording
Wolfgang Schneiderhan · violin
Orchester des Opernhaus Berlin
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt · conductor

4-6. DVORÁK: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53 [31:34]
Recorded · 07 April 1944 · Wien · Konzerthaus · Großer Saal · Reichssender Wien · Radio Studio Recording
Willi Boskovsky · violin
Wiener Sinfoniker
Hans Weisbach · conductor

Additional Information

Article number: MC 2019
Release date: 02 May 2014
UPC barcode: 0791154050415
Total time: 59:43

Producer and Audio Restoration: Lynn Ludwig
Booklet Notes: Michael Waiblinger
Design: Alessia Issara
Photographs: Valentin Kubina and Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
With special thanks to Dr. Silvia Kargl from the Wiener Philharmoniker Archive
From the Original Masters · © 2014 Meloclassic

Wolfgang Eduard Schneiderhan was born on May 28, 1915 in Vienna as the son of the actor Theodor Schneiderhan, and received his first violin lessons from his mother, the prominent zither virtuoso Emma Schneider-Fallmann. He performed in public for the first time as a child prodigy in 1920. He then studied with Julius Winkler in Vienna, and supplemented his training through studies with Otakar Sevcik in Pisek, as did his brother Walther, who later became concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony. By the end of the 1920s Wolfgang Schneiderhan’s international career had begun, which would lead him to important centers of music and festivals worldwide. In addition to this, he developed a very successful orchestral career, becoming concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony in 1933 before taking up the same position with the Vienna State Opera on September 1, 1937. He was awarded membership in the Vienna Philharmonic on March 1, 1938.


Shortly thereafter, together with Otto Strasser, Ernst Morawec und Richard Krotschak, he founded the Schneiderhan Quartet, an ensemble which existed until 1951. By then, Wolfgang Schneiderhan had already left the Philharmonic. His solo career was not compatible with work in the orchestra, and despite great efforts on the part of then chairman Rudolf Hanzl, he relinquished his orchestral duties on May 31, 1949, although in the following years never he lost contact with the orchestra. Even after parting with the string quartet he did not turn away completely from chamber music activities, as he continued to play piano trio with Edwin Fischer and Enrico Mainardi and violin sonatas with Carl Seemann. In his 12 years as concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic, he appeared 80 times with the Vienna Philharmonic as soloist, not including the great orchestral soli in such works as Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis”, Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben”, “Also sprach Zarathustra” and “Der Bürger als Edelmann”. The solo repertoire which he performed with the Philharmonic was predominantly made up of the violin concertos of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorák, as well as Mozart’s “Sinfonia concertante”, Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto”, violin romances, and the “Double Concerto” of Brahms. He also performed works by Corelli, Haydn, Viotti, Paganini, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Lalo and Stravinsky. As successor to Georg Kulenkampf he directed master classes in violin at the International Music Festival in Lucerne.

He was co-founder, together with Rudolf Baumgartner, of the renowned Festival Strings Lucerne in 1956, where also he first met probably his most prominent student, our unforgettable concertmaster Gerhart Hetzel, who died in a tragic accident on July 29, 1992. Schneiderhan’s professorships at the Salzburg Mozarteum and Vienna College of Music are indicative of his lifelong activities as pedagogue, which he complemented through his endeavors as editor and publisher of numerous classical violin compositions, and articles and lectures pertaining hereto, which continued up until his death. Schneiderhan performed with the most prominent musicians of the 20th century: Geza Anda, Karl Böhm, Edwin Fischer, Pierre Fournier, Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Gerhart Hetzel, Herbert von Karajan, Istvan Kertész, Hans Knappertsbusch, Clemens Krauss, Richard Krotschak, Enrico Mainardi, Yehudi Menuhin, and Janos Starker. The most prominent admirer of his artistic ability was none other than Richard Strauss, who conducted concertmaster Schneiderhan in both of the legendary concerts on the occasion of the master’s 75th and 80th birthdays on June 11, 1939 and again in 1944, in performances of the orchestral suite from “Der Bürger als Edelmann”. Strauss regularly attended Schneiderhan Quartet concerts, and entrusted this ensemble with the first performance of the Sextet from “Capriccio”, his last opera, on May 7, 1942, after having personally rehearsed this enthralling prelude and having “sent them the score for corrections and entering of bowing marks” For Richard Strauss, Schneiderhan was the measure of all things relating to the violin, as is demonstrated in a letter he wrote to Karl Böhm on September 30, 1944: “For quite a while now, I have been working on an exercise which should even keep Schneiderhan in form – an adagio for about 11 solo strings, which may turn into an allegro seeing as how I cannot stand this Brucknerian organ tranquility for very long.” This “exercise” eventually became the Metamorphosen for 23 Strings.

Schneiderhan passed away on May 18, 2002 in Vienna.

Willi Boskovsky was born in Vienna on June 16, 1909. He took an interest in the violin from a very young age, and from 1914 (aged 5) began to receive instruction from his mother. He enrolled at the Vienna Academy at the age of nine, studied the violin with Franz Mayrecker (former concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera) and Ernst Moravec, and graduated at seventeen having won the Fritz Kreisler Prize. He made his public debut with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bruno Walter. He commenced performing with Hans Knappertsbusch and Wilhelm Furtwängler. His first appointment was to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1932, becoming one of the leaders in 1936 (with Fritz Sedlak, Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Walter Barylli), after Knappertsbusch selected him. He made his Salzburg Festival début as violinist in 1938 and was leading the orchestra of the Staatsoper in Vienna. n chamber ensemble he led the Boskovsky Quartet with Philipp Matheis (2nd violin), Gunther Breitenbach (viola) and Nikolaus Hübner (violoncello). The Boskovsky Quartet, together with Johann Krump (double-bass), Alfred Boskovsky (clarinet), Josef Veleba (horn) and Rudolf Hanzl (bassoon) formed the Vienna Octet in 1947, which he founded with his brother, principal clarinettist Alfred Boskovsky. His 4 years elder brother Alfred had begun his musical life on the violin. He turned to the clarinet at 16 and became a pupil of Leopold Wlach (1902-1956). Eight years later, in 1937 he joined the Philharmonic and by 1941 was playing alongside Wlach as a joint principal. After the war Alfred Boskovsky was a manager for the Orchestra and, as we shall see, this may have helped the Octet’s recording career.


Of the other players Josef Veleba was for years joint principal Philharmonic horn alongside Gottfried Freiberg, both players being exponents of the beautiful but treacherous Viennese F-horn which still contributes its special sound to the Orchestra. Two members, viola-player Günther Breitenbach and Nikolaus Hübner the distinguished-looking cellist, came originally from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Willi Boskovsky left the Octet in 1959 to be replaced by the Anton Fietz. During June 1954, he joined the renowned pianist Lili Kraus – with whom he recorded all of the Beethoven piano-violin sonatas- to record eleven of the Mozart piano-violin sonatas for “Les discophiles français” in Vienna at the Brahmsaal. A few months later, October through December of 1954, cellist Nikolaus Hüber joined with Krauss and Boskovsky to record all Mozart’s piano trio. This last album was awarded the famed Grand Prix du Disque in 1956 and remained a valued collectors’ item. Also in 1954, Boskovsky recorded two of Mozart’s concertos, the E-flat major, K. 271, and the D minor, K. 466, with the Orchestra de Chambre du Wiener Konzerthaus with Krauss. Unfortunately, before Boskovsky finished other mammoth projects “Les discophiles français” had proposed, the firm declared bankruptcy.

With the unexpected death of Clemens Krauss on May 16, 1954, the Vienna Philharmonic faced a great dilemma in determining his successor. Only after much deliberation did the members decide, shortly before January 1, 1955, to entrust concertmaster Boskovsky with the artistic direction of the New Year’s Concerts. This choice turned out to be a stroke of genius, with Boskovsky going on to conduct the concert 25 times, between 1955 and 1979, making such an enduring impression that his resignation constituted the end of an era.In October 1979, when Boskovsky was forced to cancel the New Year’s Concert of 1980 for health reasons, the Philharmonic made a fundamental change. The orchestra chose an internationally prominent conductor, Lorin Maazel, who directed the concerts through 1986. Apart from the Strauss family waltzes, Boskovsky recorded a 10-album cycle of the complete Mozart Dances and Marches, leading what Decca Records called the Vienna Mozart Ensemble (assorted members of the Vienna Philharmonic).

Boskovsky died of a stroke on April 21, 1991 in Valais, Switzerland

© Michael Waiblinger 2014

MusicWeb International Classical Review September 2014

With this release Meloclassic pairs two distinguished Viennese violinists and contemporaries, Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Willi Boskovsky. They were taped a year apart, Schneiderhan in Berlin in 1943 and Boskovsky in Vienna the following year. Mozart was common to both men’s repertoires and they both recorded a fair amount – Boskovsky’s excellent accounts of the violin sonatas with Lili Kraus are less well-known than Schneiderhan’s of the Violin Concertos in Berlin but are probably superior examples of Mozart performances.

It’s Schneiderhan who is accorded the Mozart recording, the Turkish Concerto with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting the Orchestra of the German Opera House, Berlin. Obviously this wartime broadcast is not to be confused with the post-war Hamburg Radio Symphony DG LP that the two men made together. Numerous other examples exist of the violinist’s way with this concerto – Ferdinand Leitner and the Vienna Symphony is one but the self-conducted Berlin Philharmonic cycle of the late 1960s for DG is the best-known. But you can certainly find other examples – Desarzens live in 1953 with the Berlin Radio Symphony, for instance, and Ančerl in 1966 with the Czech Philharmonic on Multisonic. Schneiderhan’s taut, suave way is familiar even in this earliest inscription so far made available. The radio sound is especially good – maybe slightly dry but full of detail. The violinist’s vibrato is a touch too fast in the slow movement which emerges as over-tense, but his trills are of near-electric velocity, and his portamenti are discreetly effective. The finale is vigorous, the Janissary episodes well characterised. There is brief tape damage from 5:17 to 5:20.

Boskovsky was a very different kind of fiddler, and his altogether more gemütlich tone and phrasing are put to good use in the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work he never recorded commercially. The Vienna Symphony is conducted by Hans Weisbach, and he doesn’t offer overmuch in the way of genuinely idiomatic support. The sound-stage is rather bass-heavy and this leeches into the performance. Most Austro-German players struggle in this concerto and whilst Boskovsky is adept in places he can also be pedestrian in others. The folkloric episodes both for him and for the winds, in particular, could be more pointed, and there is a hint of Viennese whipped cream in the slow movement where one ideally wants the assured phrasing of a man genuinely attuned to the idiom, such as, pre-eminently, Vaša Příhoda. The orchestral contribution remains rather half-hearted, regrettably, and some of the solo work remains cloying, however fine it may be as violin playing per se.

These are, though, interesting documents. This is the earliest example known to me of Schneiderhan’s Turkish and the only one of Boskovsky’s Dvořák. One could hardly ask for more dedicated documentation in the digipak, or sympathetic restoration of the tapes.

© Jonathan Woolf

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