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1950 Donald Gabor engaged Felix Guenther and sent him to Austria to
conduct the Austrian Symphony Orchestra in recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart and Joseph Strauss for Remington Records.
Günther (Guenther) was
a pianist, arranger and conductor. He worked in the German film industry
and conducted the film orchestra for several productions of the UFA
(Universum-Film AG). He arranged and supervised the musical scores of
specific music for films and songs. An example is Here Lies an Actor,
on a text by Paul Dresser.
was also active as a free lancer in broadcasting, the modern medium
of those days. These activities more or less stopped from 1933 on, the
year the Nazis came to power. Before that he had conducted the Berlin
Symphony Orchestra (Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester) when making recordings
for the Polydor label (Deutsche Grammophon) and other labels like Parlophon
and Homocord, already in the 1920s, well before the electrical recording
process was introduced.
Grete Eweler performed gems of Antonin Dvorak (Humoreske) and
Peter Tchaikovsky (Chanson triste) and was accompanied by Felix
Günther at the grand piano.
Image courtesy Björn Cloppenburg,
a pianist and as a conductor he accompanied various singers like Gitta
Alpar (soprano), Ria Ginster (soprano), Friedrich Brodersen
(baritone), Martin Abendroth (bass), Heinrich Schlusnus
(baritone). He made a recording with violinist Grete Eweler for
the Homocord label. He also was the pianist in the recording of Schubert's
Forellen Quintet (Trout) with the Nikolas Lambinon Artist Quartet
originally known as Nicolas Lambinon Künstler-Quartett. In that
recording he played a grand piano of the German piano maker Schwechten.
Günther is best known as the conductor who accompanied the popular,
Jewish singer Joseph Schmidt. Schmidt performed in Carnegie
Hall in 1937, but returned to Germany to join his relatives. Via
Holland, where he was very popular and where he gave a last recital
in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Schmidt fled to Switzerland where
he was interned in a refugee camp. But fate was far from kind. Joseph
became ill and died there in 1942.
Günther however - already in his fifties - did not hesitate to
flee from Germany. He went to the US in 1937 and found refuge - as conductor
Hans Wolf, producer Marcel Prawy, and also Don Gabor and Laszlo Halasz
did before World War II broke out. Günther obtained US citizenship.
His son enlisted in the US Army in 1942.
from the day he arrived in the US, he was active in the New York music
scene. He wrote and compiled various publications. He
was co-editor of "Everybody's Favorite First Position Violin Pieces",
which he prepared together with violin pedagogue
Theodore Pashkus. The book was published by Amsco Music Publishing
Co. Inc, 1600 Broadway, New York, 1939. He compiled and edited "Anthems
of the United Nations: the inspiring national songs the Allies are singing
on the battlefields and at home", obviously inspired by the commitment
of America and the many nationalities of the troops who went to England
first in order to liberate Europe - New York, Edward B. Marks Music
Corp., 1942. Published by the same company is "Liebestraum by Liszt",
piano solo edited by Felix Guenther, 1941. From his hand is "Piano
Concerto Highlights for Solo Piano" (Dover Publications, New York);
"A Treasury of the Piano Sonata from Scarlatti to Shostakovitch";
a transcription for piano of "The Moldau" (Smetena) - Francis
Day & Hunter, 1950. Another title is "Heart of the Waltz"
edited by Felix Guenther, Heritage Music Publications, 1943. Felix Gühnter
made the arrangement for orchestra of Stravinsky's famous "Tango"
originally written for piano.
After the war had ended he only returned to Europe when he was requested
by Donald Gabor .
total of 10 symphonic standards were announced by Don Gabor in Billboard
Magazine, but only two were recorded. Felix Gunther who was born in
1886 in Trautenau, Austria, and studied in Vienna and Berlin and was
later a professor at the Humboldt Hochschule in that city, died May
5th, 1951 at the age of 65 in New York.
- Mozart: Two movements of
incidental music to Thamos, Koenig in Aegypten, conducted by Felix Guenther,
coupled with Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon
and Orchestra, condcuted by Kurt Wöss. These were also released
on R-149-25 coupled with Finlandia (Sibelius) conducted by Kurt
Wöss. In France issued on Concerteum TCR 273 coupled with Mozart's
Serenade 13 conducted by Fritz Weidlich.
- Joseph Strauss: Dynamiden, Felix Günther conducting,
coupled with Four Waltzes of Johann Strauss conducted by Kurt Wöss.
A release of November 1952. Probably the same collection was issued
one month later on Plymouth P-10-12.
Guenther also recorded Symphonies 1 and 3 of Carl Philip Emanuel
Bach and Sinfonia Concertante of Johann Christian Bach, both
for the Bach Guild label, reference 504, issued in Great Britain
on the Nixa label.
the Fall of 1953 Columbia RL 3073 was released. The LP contains
a selection of Strauss Waltzes performed by the Vienna Broadcasting
Orchestra conducted by Felix Günther and by the Vienna Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Max Schönherr. The disc was later
reissued on Columbia's Harmony label, reference HL 7061.
LP 1247 (The Heart of the Symphony), LP 1252 (Brahms Violin Concerto),
LP 1357 (An hour with Tchaikovsky) and other records released by Eli
Oberstein, and also Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 on the King label, do
mention Felix Guenther conducting "The Berlin Symphony" or
"The Rome Symphony Orchestra". Guenther was the moniker used
by Oberstein for any conductor of an orchestra on his Allegro-Royale
label he needed a name for, as Ernst A. Lumpe found out. And on those
recordings Felix Günther's name is a pseudonym for various conductors
like Wilhelm Furtwangler, Kirill Kondrashin, Joseph Keilberth, and
Rudolf Albert. See the pseudonyms on the
Allegro Royale label.
and research, Rudolf A. Bruil. Page published July 10, 2011.
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