Walter Damrosch (1862-1950)
Damrosch, Walter Johannes (1862-1950), German American conductor and composer, known for his long tenure (1928-1942) as conductor of the National Broadcasting Company Symphony Orchestra..
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Conductor, composer, educator; born in Breslau, Prussia (son of Leopold Damrosch). He came to the U.S.A. with his family in 1871 and was largely trained in music by his father. When his father died, he took over his post as conductor of the New York Symphony Society (1885--1903). He also began an assistantship at the Metropolitan Opera (1885-91), during which time he helped to promote German opera. When he left he began his own company, the Damrosch Opera Company (1895--99), mainly to do Wagner's operas. Meanwhile, he took over as director of a reorganized New York Symphony Society (1903-27), turning away from opera to orchestral works. During World War I he conducted for the troops in France and his contacts led to the establishment of a summer music school at Fontainebleau that would train many American musicians over the ensuing decades.
He also took his New York Symphony to Europe in 1920, the first American orchestra to be heard there. When his orchestra merged with the (New York) Philharmonic, he retired but from 1927 to 1947 he was the music adviser to National Broadcasting Company radio; among his achievements was the Music Appreciation Hour for young people, which he narrated and conducted after opening each session with, "Good morning, my dear children." Although forgettable as a composer, he retains a special place in America's musical life for introducing generations to the music of Wagner in particular and serious music in general.
Walter Damrosch's accomplishments include:
- Founding or further developing organizations (New York City).
- Laying the groundwork for the founding of various orchestras throughout the U. S..
- Helping to establish a school of music for military personnel.
- Pioneer of radio broadcasts of classical music.
- One of the first musical superstars – receiving more that 50,000 "fan letters" per year.
- Prolific author of various magazine or journals and an autobiography.
- His recordings or broadcasts were heard and enjoyed by millions of new fans to classical music.
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