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Gottfried Preinfalk (1914-1986)

















































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The field of oratorio, mass and passion is relatively well represented in the Remington catalog considering the fact that Remington is a budget label. Joseph Messner (Handel: The Messiah - Haydn: The 7 Last Words - Mozart: Requiem - Rossini: Stabat Mater); Gustav Koslik (Verdi: Requiem); Hans Grischkat (Bach: Christmas Oratorio). And there is multi-talented Gottfried Preinfalk who is represented by just one single LP record.


Already as a child Preinfalk studied the violin and the viola, then electrical engineering and mechanics at the Technical University in Vienna, and continued from 1936 till 1938 German Language Studies. In those same years he studied Musicology and later in Berlin, according according to the Austrian Music Lexicon. he followe lessons in church music and music education.
Being a conservative, strict and apparently well organized man, he made a few choices before World War II broke out. While most Austrians were forced to serve in the German Army after the Annexation (Anschluss) in 1938, Preinfalk joined the National Socialist Party and the paramillitary Sturm Abteilung (Storm Detachment) already in 1934, when he was 20 years of age, out of conviction.

His joining made it possible for him to conduct the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Gau-Symphonie-Orchester Niederdonau during the war. His career was well underway, but these choices had to be corrected later, when the war was over. From 1946 on he worked as an assistant in a weaving factory and as a private teacher he gave violin lessons and had some restricted freedom in the first years after the war.

It was conductor Kurt Wöss who brought him back to the larger music culture after World War II by offering him a seat in the Tonkuenstler Orchestra as an alto player (Bratsche) in 1949. In that same year Preinfalk founded the Tonkuenstler Choir and was its conductor till 1955.

Preinfalk was also a creative man who organized an ensemble or a chorus whenever he had the chance to do so. In 1956 he organized the Vienna Radio Chorus (Wiener Rundfunkchor) and led the choir until 1983. He also founded a chamber ensemble of 16 singers which he led for 7 years (1974 - 1981) and with it he performed complicated a-capelle compositions by Ligeti and Penderecki. At the same time, from 1960 on, he had a film production firm.

In the early 1950s when he was a member of the Tonkuenstler-Orchester, he was going to conduct that orchestra as well. He led performances of Johannes Brahms's A German Requiem (Ein Deutsches Requiem); Georg Friedrich Handel's Messiah; Joseph Haydn's Die Schöpfung (The Creation). He also conducted the orchestra in a performance by Richard Matuschka of Antonin Dvorak's Concerto for Cello Op. 104. (Matuschka can be heard in the Sonata for Cello and Pisno Op. 4 of Zoltan Kodaly on Remington R-199-107.)

Remington R-199-78 with Excerpts from St. John Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach. Cover by Curt John Witt.

On Sunday December 9, 1951, starting at 4 p.m. in the Grosser Saal of the Musikverein, he led the performance of St.John's Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach. That performance must have been at the basis of Remington R-199-78 with excerpts of that work performed by the Tonkünstlerorchester, the Tonkünstlerchor and soloists Berta Seidl (Soprano), Hilde Rössel-Majdan (Alto), Erich Majkut (Tenor), James Erb (Tenor), Otto Wiener (Bariton), Walter Berry (Bass). Organist was Alois Forer, and harpsichordist was Ulrich Staeps.

Yes, American James Erb - founder of the
Richmond Symphony Chorus - sang also in that performance according to the site of the Musikverein. His name is not mentioned on the cover of R-199-78, nor on the label, though I suspect that he sang some of the abridged recitatives. At the time James Erb studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien) and sang on that Sunday in St. John's Passion. It is possible that the excerpts were taped on the following Monday in the early morning and later in the evening, in the Brahmssaal of the Musikverein.


In High Fidelity Magazine of September 1955 reviewer Nathan Broder evaluated an extensive series of recordings of choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach. About the Preinfalk disc he wrote:

This performance is neither unmusical nor insensitive, and those who would be satisfied with only some of the important portions of the Passion on a single disk may find this one acceptable.
A harpsichord is the continuo instrument here. The numbers that are retained are given complete, except for the recitative,
which is often considerably abbreviated, and for the great first and last ( "Ruht wohl") choruses, which are cut before the repeat. The highs are very much exaggerated; I had to turn the treble control way down to achieve tone approaching reality. - Nathan Broder

REMINGTON R-199 -78. $1.95.
Berta Seidl (s); Hilde Rössl -Majdan (a); Erich Majkut (t); Otto Wiener (bs); Walter Berry (bs); Austrian Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Gottfried Preinfalk, cond. 12 -in.

In the 1970s Preinfalk was responsible for the chorusses in several opera's conducted by Lamberto Gardelli. He also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft and other labels.

A few recordings Gottfried Preinfalk was involved with:

*Springtime in the Tyrols (Vanguard VRS-7037)
*Luigi Cherubini: Requiem in C Minor - ORF Chorus and Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lamberto Gardelli and Gottfried Preinfalk (Philips 9500 715)
*A Treasury of German Folksongs (Columbia ML-5344)
*Oskar Nedbal: Polenblut (operetta). Hertha Schmidt (Helena) - Karl Terkal (Bolo) - Christine Spierenburg (Wanda) - Hilde Längauer (Jadwiga) - Karl Weber (Popiel) - Leo Heppe (Zaremba). Der Chor von Radio Wien, Leitung: Gottfried Preinfalk; Das Wiener Volksopernorchester, Leitung: Kurt Richter (Philips)
*Schubert: Choruses. Choir conducted by Gottfried Preinfalk (DGG Stereo 25363 77)
*Johan Sklenka: Naive Musik - ORF Chorus Chamber Ensemble. (Preiser Records120426)
*Verdi: I due foscari. Ricciarelli, Carreras, Cappuccilli, Ramey. ORF Symphony Orchestra and ORF Chorus, Lamberto Gardelli and Gottfried Preinfalk. (Philips ?6700 105)
*Verdi: La Prima Donna (selections) - Lamberto Gardelli, John McCarthy, Gottfried Preinfalk (Philips 6527 220)
*Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe, Rapsodie Espagnole. Austria Broadcast Symphony Orchestra conducted by Milan Horvat conducting and the ORF Choir conducted by Gottfried Preinfalk (Classical Excellence-CE 11048)

Gottfried Preinfalk was born on August 8, 1914, in Vienna and died in Vienna on December 20, 1986.

Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published on February 6, 2018. Concepted in 2014.



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