Bruno Walter

Bruno Walter Schlesinger was born in Berlin on September 15, 1876. He began to play piano at an early age, and entered the Stern Conservatory of Berlin at age eight. He studied with Ehrlich, Bussler, and Radecke. He made a public appearance as a pianist at age nine. At age 13 he heard a concert by Hans von Bülow and decided to become a conductor. This was intensified by attendance at a performance at the Bayreuth Festival in 1891. He became an opera coach at the Cologne Opera in 1893 while still a teen-ager. His debut as a conductor was with a little-known work, Lortzing's Der Waffenschmied, (The Weaponsmith). He became an assistant conductor at the Hamburg Stadttheater in 1894. His superior there was Gustav Mahler, who advised him to drop the name "Schlesinger." (Walter did so informally, but when he took Austrian citizenship in 1911 he legally registered under his shortened name.) Mahler's influence and advice were instrumental in shaping Walter's career and ideals. He also became an ardent disciple of Mahler, and was one of the conductors who kept Mahler's music alive over the decades.

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