Sound Fountain




Felix Günther (1886 - 1951)


The text of this profile about Felix Günther was copied and published without my permission.




Jospeh Schmidt on Parlophone



















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Remington R-199-97

In 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.


Felix Günther (Guenther) was a pianist, arranger and conductor. He worked in the German film industry in the 1920s and 1930s. He conducted the film orchestra for several productions of the UFA (Universum-Film AG) in Berlin. 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 songwriter Paul Dresser.

Günther 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 Violin - FELIX GUENTHER - Homocord Electro - Humoreske - Chanson triste
Violinist 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, Hamburg.

As a pianist and as a conductor he accompanied various singers like Gitta Alpar (soprano), Ria Ginster (soprano), Lotte Schöne (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.

Felix Günther is best known as the conductor who accompanied the popular, Jewish singer Joseph Schmidt. The name of Felix Günther is hardly ever mentioned on the covers and labels of the recordings of 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, he fled to Switzerland where he was interned in a refugee camp. But fate was far from kind. Joseph Schmidt became ill and died there in 1942.

Felix Günther however - already in his fifties - did not hesitate to flee from Germany. He too went to the US in 1937 but did not return to Europe. He 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.

Right from the day he arrived in the US, he was active in the New York music scene. He wrote arrangements and compiled these for 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. It was published in New York by Edward B. Marks Music Corp., 1942. Felix Gühnter was editor of the Standard Editions department of that company. From 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" which was originally written for piano. Guenther made many arrangements.

Felix Guenther was very active in the New York music scene. He gave various lectures at gatherings organized by the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences as The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. Several years after the war had ended he then returned to Europe on the request of Donald Gabor.

Kurt Wöss Mozart Sinfonia Concertante - Felix Guenther Thamos König in Egypten - Remington

A 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, studied in Vienna and Berlin and was later a professor at the Humboldt Hochschule in Berlin, died May 5th, 1951 at the age of 65 in New York.

Finlandia (Sibelius) conducted by Kurt Woss and Thamos King in Egypt (Mozart) by Felix Guenther

RLP-199-54 - 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.

R-199-97 - 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.

Felix 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.

In 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 by Max Schönherr. The disc was later reissued on Columbia's Harmony label, reference HL 7061. This means that he had a few more recording dates.

Royale 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".
However Felix 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.

Text and research, Rudolf A. Bruil. Page published July 10, 2011.

This article - as all of my articles - is copyrighted. Please do not reproduce this article in whole or part, in any form, without obtaining my written permission.


Copyright 1995-2011 by Rudolf A. Bruil