Fritz Weidlich (1898-1952)


Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 performed by Fritz Weidlich, pianist and conductor, on Don Gabor's Plymouth label.

The release of Mozart's Piano Concerto performed by Fritz Weidlich on Plymouth P-12-13




























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Iimage of violinist Siegfried Borries taken from an old publication























He was the piano teacher of the young Otmar Suitner at the Städtische Musikschule (City Music School) of Innsbruck, Austria. That was before Suitner went to Salzburg in 1940 to continue his studies there with Franz Ledwinka (piano) and Clemens Krauss (conducting), and eventually become the famous conductor.


It is said that Dr. Hans Wolf - who also recorded for the Remington label - did study with Fritz Weidlich for a short time after Wolf had returned to Austria with the US Army in 1945. More significant however is the fact that Hans Wolf helped Weidlich obtain permission from the occupational forces to entertain the citizens of Innsbruck with the newly rebuilt Tiroler Symphony Orchestra in 1945.

On the back of the cover of Remington R-199-89 is printed this brief biographical sketch:

Fritz Weidlich was born on July 12, 1898 at Vienna. He was a student at the Vienna University, but his studies were interrupted for several years owing to the outbreak of World War I.
In 1934, after twelve years of touring as an opera conductor, he was recalled to Vienna to conduct at the Vienna Volksoper.
Later, Weidlich accepted the position of director and head of the Municipal Conservatory in Innsbruck where he supervised the entire concert life of the city. Later he became head of the Innsbruck Opera.

These liner notes were obviously written when the release on R-149-43 was prepared in 1951, or in the summer of 1952 for the issue on the 12 inch disc with reference R-199-89, well before Fritz Weidlich unexpectedly died. The number 7 in the date of birth (July 17), probably handwritten by Marcel Prawy, was accidently read as a 2 by the copywriter of the liner notes, hence July 12. This short annotation never was corrected and further details about Weidlich were never added. Once a release had been published, corrections were seldom made.

To know more about Fritz Weidlich's career, one has to consult the extensive article written by Walter Kurz and published in the September 1952 edition of "Amtsblatt". Kurz gives many details and background information. The web site of the Tiroler Symphonieorchester, also provides some historical facts. And there are related pages about various composers and performers.

All of the available documents reveal that Fritz Weidlich was a musician 'pur sang' who, after leaving the army at the end of World War I, started in 1919 as an orchestra violinist. Three years later he was already serving as a Kapellmeister, first in Lübeck. In 1928 he became an opera conductor in Troppau, and six years later, in Vienna. But not for long, as he accepted the post of Director of the Städtische Musikschule in Innsbruck in 1935. He introduced himself to the public by playing and conducting from the piano a Haydn Concerto. In 1937 he became Innsbruck's opera conductor.

The next call was to Lemberg (Lwow, Lviv). Through the ages this town had been under Russian, Austrian, Polish and Ukrainian rule and it had a history of murdering Jews. And from 1941 on Lviv or Lwow (Lemberg in German), situated in the Galizien District, was part of Hitler's so called "Generalgouvernement". Subsequently the Nazis carried out their atrocities in 1941, right after the day the occupation by the Russians had ended. They built a concentration camp at the outskirts of the city, the Janowsk Camp. The Jews were interned and murdered, or transported to other camps. A small number survived in the sewers as a Polish Catholic sewer maintenance worker and burglar, Leopold Socha, along with his friend and co-worker Szczepek Wróblewski, hid and cared for a group of Polish Jews who had escaped the massacres and deportations during the liquidation of the Lwów Ghetto, as Wikipedia tells. Many posts of musicians had become vacant, and also that of conductor of the Opera. Weidlich may have been attracted to the rich cultural life of the city. Despite all what had happened he seized the opportunity to take up the post of conductor. It is reported that young Stanislaw Skrowaczewski sneaked into the conservatory to attend rehearsals led by Weidlich. There Weidlich conducted Verdi's Aida in 1942. See Lviv Opera House. Or Google Maps.

Fritz Weidlich left Lwów by the end of August, 1943, and moved to Bratislava (Preßburg), where he took up the post of Music Director. One and a half year later he conducted there for the last time, on February 19, 1945. He then returned to Innsbruck where he was "saved" by Hans Wolf and was allowed to start rebuilding the Tiroler Symphonieorchester (Innsbruck Symphony Orchestra).

R-199-89 - Haydn Symponies. No. 88 conducted by Paul Walter and No. 100 ('Military') conducted by Fritz Weidlich. Cover by Einhorn

His tenure was very successful. He worked with many well-known violinists: Siegfried Borries, Ginette Neveu, Ricardo Odnoposoff, Walter Schneiderhan, and Max Strub. The cellists he accompanied included Gaspar Cassadó, Pierre Fournier, Ludwig Hoelscher, Enrico Mainardi, and Maurice Maréchal. When he did not perform the solo part in a concerto while conducting the orchestra from the piano, he accompanied other pianists, Ernst von Dohnanyi, and Friedrich Wührer. In his twenties he had accompanied pianist Joseph Pembaur (a pupil of Bruckner), and later accompanied bass singer Josef von Manowarda, and tenor Julius Poelzer, artists of the interbellum.

Fritz Weidlich managed a heavy schedule throughout his entire professional life. He performed, he taught, and he composed (although he was rather modest about his own creations). He also travelled to Italy, to Germany, and he even conducted in Tripoli (it is not sure if this was Tripoli in Greece, in Libya or in Lebanon).

Weidlich performed all of the Beethoven Sonatas in concert and Schubert's complete Sonatas in a series of radio broadcasts. On top of that he promoted the music written by composers from Tirol who belonged to the ATK, 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Tiroler Komponisten'- Composers Collective of Tirol (Tyrol).

Mozart's K 219 performed by Violinist Eva Hitzker on R-149-37
Image from Amtsblatt, September 1952 edition. Courtesy of Günter Mühlberger, Ph. D.
University of Innsbruck

The Remington Recordings of Fritz Weidlich:

R-149-43 and R-199-89 - Haydn: Symphony No. 100, Military
Fritz Weidlich conducting the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
R-149-43 was issued in the fall of 1951. R-199-89 was coupled with Symphony No. 88 conducted by Paul Walter, issued one year later in the fall of 1952.

Warren DeMotte wrote: "Weidlich is prosaic and coarse."
Despite DeMotte's severe judgement, when playing the record on modern equipment, the performance shows subtleties, good phrasing and it is evident that Weidlich is in full command of the orchestra.

R-199-33 - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K 466
Fritz Weidlich, soloist, conducting the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra from the piano. Released in 1951. Also issued as Plymouth P-12-13.

R-149-37 - Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, K 219
Eva Hitzker (violinist) and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra conducted by Fritz Weidlich.

Cecil Smith comments in The New Republic of April 23, 1951: "Mozart's A major Violin Concerto, played by Eva Hitzker and the Salzburg Festival Orchestra under the direction of Fritz Weidlich, is also every way enjoyable."

R-149-36 - Tchaikovsky: Andante cantabilé from String Quartet No. 1, Waltz from Serenade for String Orchestra - Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K 525
Fritz Weidlich conducting the SalzburgFestival Orchestra.

Most recordings were not evaluated in The Long Playing Record Guide or reviewed by the critics of High Fidelity Magazine. The technical and artistic qualities were rarely on a par with the recordings of the major labels. C.G. Burke, in the 4th instalment of his discography of recordings of works by Mozart, "Mozart on microgroove" (High Fidelity November-December 1953), comments on various recordings of Serenata Notturna (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) as follows:

"Karajan. Fair, overloaded with precautions. ...
Weidlich. Ordinary, not bad by the conductor since his orchestra has no suavity. Satisfactory sound. ...
Koussevitzky. Decidedly refined, but graceless and hurried.
Kleiber. Dull sound...
Furtwangler. Pompous fussy and labored. Scrawny sound... (...)" - C.G. Burke - High Fidelity, 1953.

Fritz Weidlich was born in Vienna on July 17, 1898. He died unexpectedly at the relatively young age of 54 in Innsbruck, on August 16, 1952, of heart failure.

Research and text (c) Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published on the Internet on June 28, 2012.




Copyright 1995-2012 by Rudolf A. Bruil