recording of Idomeneo (Mozart), the 1950 Glyndebourne production with
Sena Jurinac, Richard Lewis, Dorothy McNeil and Alexander Young, conducted
by Fritz Busch, received a "Grand Prix du Disque".
reissue on Music for Pleasure of the recording made of the Glyndebourne
production of Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) in 1934 (Classics for Pleasure
Victor's 5 EP set of Busch's Glyndebourne's 'Cosi fan tutte'
Resnik, leading dramatic soprano at the MET in 1952.
Image taken from a booking ad of William L. Stein Inc.
Bamberger conducts the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in
Schumann's Symphony No. 1, Op. 38 on MMS 148, coupled with Fritz Busch
conducting "Symphonie-Orchester Winthertur" in Overture "Die
schöne Melusine", Op. 32 (Mendelssohn-Bartholdy).
Haydn's Symphony No. 101 in D Major The Clock: The Austrian Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Fritz Busch.
of the early Masterseal label from 1951 (above) and of the later label
from 1957 of the Busch Memorial issue (below).
early edition of the Eroica Symphony.
3rd Symphony on a late release in the nineteen sixties from Italy: Vibraton
VB K 2002. The recording was originally produced by Marcel Prawy.
Busch on the cover of an early catalog when Remington Records was still
located at 263 West 54th St., the first address of the company.
also 'BUSCH MSS' - listing Busch's manuscripts.
also the extensive Fritz Busch article in French Wikipedia
is the case with so many artists who appeared on the Remington label,
also of conductor Fritz Busch there are only a few performances released
on this early nineteen fifties label. They landed there merely by accident,
one would suspect. However it was impresario Marcel Prawy in Vienna who
sought the opportunity to make recordings of "the conductor with
the pure style".
1950 there were many recordings of Fritz Busch on 78 RPM shellac
discs available, like excerpts from Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde',
a performance of Richard Strauss's 'Don Juan' and several complete
Mozart operas from the productions of John Christie's Glyndebourne
Festival in the nineteen thirties.
Busch (at far left) in 1950 in Glyndebourne with John Christie,
Carl Ebert (Producer) and Moran Caplat (General Manager).
Picture taken from the
cover of His Master's Voice LP Mozart at Glyndebourne (ALP 1731).
performances of Busch released uniquely on the new medium, the Long
Playing record, were non existent, except for the odd
Hall Society CHC-61 of Schubert's Fifth Symphony with
the Winterthur Symphony Orchestra, released in the fall of 1950.
Hall CHC-61 Schubert Symphony No. 5: Fritz Busch conducting the
Winterthur Symphony Orchestra.
of 78 RPM plates would only gradually appear in the new format. The
first was RCA Victor's 2 LP set (LCT 6001) of the 1934 production of
'The Marriage of Figaro', issued in 1952. Singers were Roy Henderson
(baritone), Aulikki Rautavaara (soprano), Audrey Mildmay (soprano),
Wili Domgraf-Fassbänder (baritone), Haddle Nash (tenor), Norman
Allin and Italo Tajo (bass), Constance Willis (mezzo soprano), Luise
Hellesgruber (soprano), Fergus Dunlop (bass), Morgan Jones (tenor),
Winifred Radford, Fritz Busch conducting. The later reissue on LP
of this same recording of 'Le nozze di Figaro' on Music for Pleasure
EMI LP (CFP 117-118) - shows an exceptionally high sound quality.
No wonder 'Figaro's Hochzeit' was the first recording in the Busch discography
to be transferred to LP.
The opera was recorded by HMV at Glyndebourne Theater, Sussex, England
on 6/6/34, 24/6/35 and 28/6/35. First released as Volume 1 of "The
Mozart Opera Society" in 1934, and Volumes 2-3 followed in 1935.
If you do not play vinyl, or if you cannot find the analog HMV transfer
to LP, it is good to know that 'Le nozze di Figaro' on 78 RPM
discs was recently transferred to CD by
Audio, the company which restores and transfers historical material
with great success.
sales of a Remington disc with Fritz Busch conducting could not only
result from the fact that Fritz Busch was considered a significant musician
and opera conductor worldwide, but also that during the nineteen forties
his name had become familiar to many New Yorkers. During World War Two
Fritz Busch was Musical Director of the New Opera Company for
several seasons, and after the war he conducted productions of the New
York Metropolitan on various occasions.
Fritz Busch, founder and director of the Glyndebourne Mozart Festivals,
formerly Chief Conductor of the Stuttgart Opera and General Music
Director of the Dresden State Opera.
Picture edited by R.A.B., taken from The Etude magazine, April 1943.
his New York period, Fritz Busch was interviewed for the Etude Magazine.
The interview was published in the April 1943 issue.
The introduction of the article gives a short biography and a survey
of his career compiled from the information he gave to the editors of
Busch, son of the distinguished violin maker, Wilhelm Busch,
and brother of Adolf Busch, violinist, and of Hermann Busch,
violoncellist, has contributed more perhaps than any other contemporary
musician to the vitality of opera. Dr. Busch became operatic
conductor at Riga at the age of nineteen, and two years later
he entered upon the duties of Director of Music at Aachen. He
succeeded Max von Schillings as chief conductor of the Stuttgart
Opera and, from 1922 to the beginning of the currently political
regime in Germany, served as General Musical Director of the
State Opera at Dresden. During this period he presented world
premieres of the operatic works of Richard Strauss, Busoni,
Hindemith, Weill, Wolf-Ferrari, and Stravinsky, besides launching
a Verdi revival which drew the attention of the musical world.
In 1934 Dr. Busch launched the notable Mozart Festivals at Glyndebourne,
England, during which more than two hundred performances of
Mozart's operas were given. After a period of activity in Buenos
Aires, Dr. Busch assumed directorship of the New Opera Company,
in the USA. Under the sponsorship of Mrs. Lytle Hull, the New
Opera Company has a twofold goal: the presentation of intimate,
chamber opera under the highest of traditional artistic standards,
and the training of young, entirely inexperienced American singers.
his conversation, with Burton Paige of Etude Magazine, Fritz
Busch specifically aimed his attention at young singers. He states that
he does not like the 'star' system, but wants to give young and new
talents a chance and to educate them by providing the necessary professional
"In my work in pre-Nazi Dresden, I
accepted dozens of untried, inexperienced young singers into the
company, many of whom today, hold distinguished posts in great
houses of the world. They showed no greater ability, when I found
them, than do young Americans who have sung for me - but they
were enabled to reach greater heights because of a sustained period
of routine experience and drill."
Berger was one of the singers he certainly
was referring to, and he certainly meant Sena Jurinac whose
mentor he was. Fritz Busch also played a significant role in the career
of Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. Just to name a few.
Numerous are the names of artists who had been given a chance to receive
a formal education and to reach a high degree of professionalism.
Fritz Busch had also given proof of his ideas with the New Opera
Company when, in 1942, he let Regina Resnik sing Lady Macbeth.
Ms. Regina Resnik sent me this recollection in the summer of 2005:
can describe the incredible beginning of my operatic life, thanks
to Maestro Busch.
I was 19 years old when I sang the entrance aria of Lady Macbeth
for Maestro Busch and his son Hans. Instead of a position in
the chorus, which I thought was going to be offered to me, they
offered to teach me the role of the Lady as a COVER UNDERSTUDY.
In the morning of December 4, 1942, I was called to come to
the Broadway theater at 8 pm. Under a work light, in costume,
I was walked through the opera (most of which I sang) with maestro
Fritz Stiedry alone in the pit and a piano on stage.
The following day, December 5th, with Toscanini present in the
audience, I sang Lady Macbeth, replacing the ailing soprano
Florence Kirk. (Stiedry conducting for Busch, who heard the
performance in the theater.) I had NO position or power to make
ANY wish known. I only had to sing to prove the faith the New
Opera Company had shown in putting this beginner on stage in
that role. I was completely prepared, yet completely unaware
of the possible consequences. The fact that my preparation was
so complete - I will always owe this to Dr.Busch - I was thrown
into the Olympic swimming pool."
- Regina Resnik (August 1st, 2005)
the war -when the New Opera Company was more or less replaced by the
New York City Opera - Fritz Busch
often conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, the company which, strangely
enough, produced the opera performances precisely on the basis of the
'star system' which he disliked so much.
art of Fritz Busch can be seen in Verdi's 'Otello', the first
live telecast ever of an entire opera. It was done from the stage
of the old Metropolitan Opera House with Lucia Albanese, John
Garris, Thomas Hayward, Martha Lipton, Nicola Moscona, Ramón
Vinay and Leonard Warren. That was in 1948! At the time Hans
Peter Busch, son of Fritz Busch, was one of the first directors of the
NBC-TV opera theater.
In this New York context the release of Beethoven's Symphony No.
3, Opus 55, 'Eroica', performed with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra
on Remington R-199-21 is not only logical but also rather
unique. The Schwann catalog of June 1951 lists the Remington disc
(which was released in the first months of that year), and that
is well before September 14th of 1951, the day the maestro died.
So the appearance of Busch on Remington was not the ultimate marketing
trick with the conductor's passing away in mind, as some may have
assumed later. It became however a quasi memorial album and it
is suspected that quite a lot of copies were sold worldwide.
left an early issue of the recording of the recording of
the Third Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven performed by
the Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstler- Orchester in Vienna.
The performance was recorded in the Brahmssaal of the Musikverein
in october, 1950.
High Fidelity Magazine (Spring 1952 issue - Vol. 1, No. 4) reviewer
C.G. Burke wrote an extensive article entitled "Beethoven
on records". He compared the available Eroicas by Arturo
Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Fritz Busch, Willem Mengelberg, Carl
Schuricht, Erich Kleiber, Serge Koussevitzky, and Paul Shubert.
About the Fritz Busch Remington disc he writes: "Busch has
the best balance, but the exuberant treble of his violins cannot
be subdued on all apparatuses." And about Beethoven's 8th
he writes: "Busch: The most reflective and tempered perusal
of the Eighth - unusual treatment, not disappealing. Also the
most incicive direction, the cleanest orchestral response and,
after Muench, the greatest impression of orchestral weight. The
treble on the amplifier needs careful adjustment to discipline
the violins on this disc."
DeMotte's evaluation of the recording of Beethoven's Third Symphony
in 'The Long Playing Record Guide' may sound as a warning to some,
but to others as an incentive to buy the record: "Busch leads
an inferior orchestra in a superior performance."
The inferiority certainly being caused for a great deal by the
low technical quality of the matrix and the subsequent pressing
on cheap plastic. Yes, the sound is thin, but that could be corrected
somewhat by boosting the bass and turn down the treble on the
tube amplifier, as was the custom in those days. Yet the orchestra
is very disciplined and succeeds in following for a good deal
the ideas of the conductor who himself seems to follow the score
in a strict manner. It is a style which is in contrast to the
deeper sensitivity of performances by Wilhelm Furtwangler, the
other famous conductor of that same generation. - R.A.B.
Gabor issued a special series of recordings on the Masterseal label
pressed on better vinyl. There were recordings of Vittorio Gui, Oscar
Strauss (the factual conductor was not Oscae Strauss), Erich Wolfgang
von Korngold, Paul Schöffler together with Gaspar Cassado, and
Masterseal MW 39 Haydn's Symphony No. 101 (The Clock) and Beethoven's
Symphony No. 8 was released. Haydn's The Clock was also available on
a 10 inch disc with reference R-149-31.
Cecil Smith commented
on it when reviewing a batch of Remington records in The New Republic
of April 23, 1951:
"The best orchestral performance in
the group I listened to is Haydn's Symphony No. 101 ("The
Clock"), conducted with taste by Fritz Busch, played expertly
by the Austrian Symphony Orchestra, and cleanly and brightly recorded."
is indeed a lively performance, full of nuances.
'The Clock' was at the same time a Remington release. The Masterseal
was issued around February 1952 (it was listed in the March 1952 Schwann
Catalog. Catalogs and magazines stating the month of issue were generally
available one month earlier.
quote from the liner notes of the release of Masterseal MW 39 as a special
Fritz Busch Memorial Album:
in 1950 he (Fritz Busch) conducted a concert and performances
of "Meistersinger" and "Marriage of Figaro"
in Vienna. Critics wrote that "a new spirit had enlivened
the city's musical world." "International Masterworks,
Inc." is proud that Fritz Busch consented to record for
them during his few three hours there. After the recording sessions,
he addressed the Austria State Symphony in a wonderful farewell
speech, quoting Robert Schumann: "Where enthusiasm is the
guiding spirit - there is the center of the world". These
words are a symbol of the life of Fritz Busch, cruelly cut short
by his sudden death (...).
The noteworthy Masterseal disc with Volkmar
Andreae conducting Bruckner's Symphony no. 1 with The Niederösterreichisches
Tonkünstler Orchester (Masterseal ML 40) was released in the fall
of 1951 but for unknown reasons, was deleted one year later. This recording
never appeared on Remington.
The Masterseal label was deliberately created by Don Gabor to release
specific recordings. The Masterseal discs had a list price of $6.45
for a 12 inch record. The recordings were considered special and probably
the license fee was higher than for other recordings produced by Marcel
Prawy. And Gabor may have created the label to please Prawy.
April 1953 the Busch performances of Haydn No. 101 and Beethoven's 8th
were issued as Remington R-199-149 and the earlier Masterseal Memorial
Album was no longer available.
The high reference number of R-199-149 would suggest that it
was a Musirama recording and was profiting from some technical advancement.
But since it was recorded in 1950, it is not.
Warren De Motte wrote about the recording of Beethoven's 8th, Op. 93:
"Busch squeezes the last drop of technique out of an inferior orchestra."
This reflects that the maestro asked for discipline and precision. But
the performance also shows the tension and the hectic life the conductor
had which led to his rather unexpected and early death. Despite the
low technical qualities of the recordings and the capabilities of the
orchestras, these recordings are part of to the legacy of a great conductor.
Busch was born in Siegen on March 13,
1890. His father was an ardent violin player and as a young man was
wandering through Germany, more or less following his bliss. He was
too poor to pay for official violin studies. When he came to München-Gladbach,
he met a twenty year older lady who promised to pay for his studies
in Liège. They married and the couple bought a small inn in the
Dutch town of Venlo. The business was not successful and father Busch
started wandering again. When he came to Siegen to play at a wedding,
he met Ms. Schmidt, his future wife. The first born from this marriage
was Fritz. When the young boy was six years old, he went to school and
his teacher was asked to give piano lessons as well. Brother Adolph
also studied music. They formed a trio with their father: Fritz Busch
playing piano, Adolph playing the violin and the father was the cellist.
From 1906 till 1909 young Fritz studied at the Conservatory of Cologne
(Kölner Konservatorium) with Karl Boettcher. But Boettcher was
a severe teacher. Only when Fritz was studying with professor Uzielli,
a pupil of Clara Schumann, Boettcher allowed Fritz Busch to study in
the conductor's class. He then started playing in the opera orchestra
of Cologne under the sincere Felix Weingartner and the the charming,
improviser Arthur Nikisch. He fell in love with Grete Boettcher, his
teacher's niece, engaged in secret, and got married.
Busch and Grete Boettcher
Picture courtesy Mme Fabian Gastellier-Hathorn
passing his exam he was given the post of conductor of the Riga Opera
and during summers he worked in Pyrmont. Then followed posts at Aachen,
Stuttgart and Dresden.
Busch with Richard Strauss. After Toscanini had refused to conduct
at Bayreuth, Fritz Busch was asked. But he refused to work in Germany
after the takeover by the Nazis. Richard Strauss filled in the gap.
The management in Bayreuth did not have time enough to have new
posters printed. Early in 1933 Fritz Busch left the country to work
in England, Argentina, and the United States of America.
Nazis were eager to keep Fritz Busch for their cultural and political
aims. Hermann Göring himself tried to convince Busch to stay. The
new regime wanted him to conduct at Bayreuth. But Busch had already
the official invitation for Argentina in his pocket. In 1933 he left
Germany bringing his daughters to England. From there he traveled via
Holland to Switzerland and when his son Hans Peter had arrived from
Rome, he embarked on the "Conte Biancamano" and traveled into
the free world as Busch said.
In 1934 he was involved in the founding of the Glyndebourne Opera Company.
From then on he also worked in Buenos Aires to lead the Teatro Colón.
During the war he led the New Opera Company in New York and after the
war the Metropolitan Opera. In 1950 he became principal conductor of
the Orchestra Society of Copenhagen (Københavns Orkesterforening).
Busch was a very creative man and he knew very well how to inspire the
singers and other members of the productions. His creativity is most
evident in the recordings of his direction at Glyndebourne. If he would
have had a better orchestra at his disposal in Vienna, and if his performances
for Remington would have been taped with professional care and using
a better technique, his Eroica, Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, and Haydn's
No.101, would have shown much more of the maestro's outstanding artistry.
Busch (who at the age of twelve had bought himself a baton), was predestined
to become a great conductor. He died too early in his career of a heart
attack, on September 14, 1951, in London.
Busch at 60 during a recording session. It is the same photograph
featured on the earliest Remington Records catalog. On its
cover is printed the following testimony:
record for Remington Records because it offers me the possibility
to reach the widest audiences on high fidelity quality recordings
at prices everyone is able to pay..."
Fritz Busch conductor.
taken from the back of a Remington cover. Edited by R.A. Bruil.
(c) Rudolf A. Bruil,
June 10th, 2005
about his youth, his family and brothers are from Fritz Busch's autobiography
"Fritz Busch, Aus dem Leben eines Musikers", Rascher Verlag