Text Box: Conductor autographs


Price: $200.00


Autographed 5” x 7” cabinet photograph of the German conductor, Warneuke of Glasgow Studio.

Bruch (1854-1927) was an interesting character in the pantheon of 19th Century/early 20th Century German conductors.  A cousin of Max Bruch through their paternal great-grandparents, there was no love lost between them and it occasionally hurt the conductor as his composer cousin had great power in Germany and Great Britain.  Based on one known letter from Max, it would appear both spoke disparagingly of each other.  They met once in Posen.

Wilhelm went to both the University of Leipzig and the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied with Carl Reinecke.  He received both a juris doctorate and a music degree.  His debut was as a conductor at the Theatre de Strasborg, his first music position was as an opera conductor in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.  Whilst there in 1880 he offered his first composed opera “Hirlanda”.  He also married the Marie Schoell, the daughter of the publisher of the local “Luxemburger Zeitung” newspaper.  He also was named chief conductor consecutively of the opera houses in Freiburg and Mainz. (He also presented “Hirlanda” in both opera houses.) During the Summer he conducted the orchestras of the music festival in Posen.  Humperdinck recommended him for a conductor post at the Mannheim Hofoper.  In 1898, with the departure of the Dutch conductor Wilhem Kes from the recently founded Scottish Orchestra, Wagner disciple Hans Richter recommended Bruch for the position as Principal Conductor which the conductor accepted.  He arrived for the season in 1898 without a word of English.  He was homesick and apparently attempted to learn English, but could not understand the Scottish accent.  The photograph we offer was taken at this time.  Bruch was miserable during his two year stint and it clearly shows in the photograph.  Henry Wood wrote in his autobiography that Bruch was to conduct the Scottish premiere of Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” after the London world premiere and Elgar thought Bruch was “scared of the score”.  Based upon the works Bruch conducted in Nuremburg, his next post, nothing could have been further from the truth as he conducted far more complicated pieces there.  Wood also wrote that Bruch was nicknamed by the orchestra members as “Sleepy Willy” as he often appeared disinterested.  The conductor left Scotland in early 1901 with a new position as the Kapellmeister of City of Nuremburg and the Philharmonische Orchester Nürnberg.  He would remain in that position until he retired in 1918.  Based upon programs and reviews we have found, Bruch concentrated on the German Romantic repertoire including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Wagner, but also led a performance of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony with the composer’s blessing in early December, 1902.  Mahler even scheduled a stop in Nuremberg later that month while traveling back to Vienna to see Bruch, but circumstances prevented it. (There is known correspondence between the two dating from 1897.) The conductor premiered his second opera in Nuremburg, “Winzerfest am Rein” in 1903.  In 1909 he was invited to Bayreuth to conduct the Liszt memorial concert there be Cosima Wagner.  Bruch also led the local premiere of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony in 1910. In 1914 after Reger resigned as Kapellmeister to Georg II, the Duke of Saxe-Meinigen, Bruch campaigned for the job, but at Georg passed away the same year and his son Bernhard III was involved with the German military in the throws of World War I, the position was not replaced.  Bernhard would abdicate at the end of the War in 1918.  Bruch after the German defeat also retired.

As an aside, in the New York Philharmonic Archives there is a letter from Bruch recommending the harpist Steffy Goldner in 1913 for her musicianship.  In 1921 when applying to be the first female musician with the orchestra, she presented the Bruch letter along with a letter from Oskar Nedbal.  She won the position, became a favorite of Arturo Toscanini and was known as “a queen among 115 mere males”!  We hope Bruch’s letter helped!

As a composer in addition to his two operas, Bruch composed symphonic tone poems, a romance for violin and orchestra, solo violin works, string quartets and other chamber configurations as well as lieder including his “Schwanengesang” for tenor, female choir and orchestra.

An unusual and rare autograph of the German romantic period conductor!


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