Clemens Krauss (conductor)

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Clemens Krauss (1915)
Autograph (1933)
Drawing by Lino Salini

Clemens Heinrich Krauss (born March 31, 1893 in Vienna ; † May 16, 1954 in Mexico City ) was an Austrian conductor and theater director. Krauss was best known as an interpreter of the works of Richard Strauss ; he co-wrote the libretto for his opera Capriccio .


Youth and beginning of career

The illegitimate son of the court opera dancer and later singer Clementine Krauss (* April 25, 1877 in Vienna; † April 19, 1938 in Prague) and the racing rider Hector (Theodore) Baltazzi (* 1851 (possibly 1854?); † January 2, 1916 in Vienna) became court choirboy in 1902 at the Vienna court music band . He studied piano , composition and choral conducting at the Conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna and in 1913 became choir director in Brno . After positions at the Deutsches Theater in Riga (1913–1914), Nuremberg (1915–1916), Stettin (1916–1921) and Graz (1921), he was conductor at the Vienna Opera Theater from 1922 to 1924 under Franz Schalk and Richard Strauss . In 1924 Krauss went to the Frankfurt Opera as artistic director and at the same time directed the museum concerts. In 1929 he was appointed music director at the Vienna State Opera .

Work during the time of National Socialism

To this day, the question of whether Krauss was a staunch National Socialist is controversial; There is no written evidence for this. Many sources are questioned: On the one hand, a Viennese Nazi is quoted who had claimed that Krauss had sought NSDAP membership as early as April 1933, but was rejected as an "opportunist". On the other hand, the composer Gottfried von Eine , who frequently saw Krauss towards the end of the war, was convinced that Krauss would have been “not a Nazi”. The baritone Hans Hotter and Krauss' longtime assistant Erik Maschat made a similar judgment. Nonetheless, his personal closeness to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring is evident.

After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in Germany Krauss was ready, which emphasizes anti-Nazi opera Charles V of Ernst Krenek to bring in Vienna in February 1934 for the premiere. However, due to massive pressure from National Socialists, functionaries of the Heimwehr and also the board of the Vienna Philharmonic , Krauss had to postpone the planned premiere. In addition, this mission earned him disciplinary proceedings. In the same year, however, he received an offer from Hermann Göring to replace Wilhelm Furtwängler at the Berlin State Opera . An example of the tense situation in Vienna is a Falstaff performance on December 11, 1934, during which there were loud rallies for and against Krauss, which could only be broken up by the police. In view of the precarious situation in Vienna and the wish of his wife Viorica Ursuleac , who promised more opportunities for solo parts in Berlin, Krauss decided to move to Berlin in December 1934; In addition to his wife, Adele Kern , Josef von Manowarda and Franz Völker also followed him to Germany.

Opposite the high Nazi functionaries in Berlin, Krauss presented himself as a victim of political persecution and complained about the cultural and political damage that had occurred in Vienna. Krauss sought direct contact with Adolf Hitler , who valued the conductor very much and invited him to the Wachenfeld house at the end of 1935 . At this meeting, Hitler offered Krauss the prospect of an appointment to Munich. From 1936 he worked at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, was appointed general music director in 1937 (until 1944) and was artistic director there until 1940.

Strive back to the Vienna State Opera

After Austria was " annexed " to National Socialist Germany on April 10, 1938, Clemens Krauss wanted to become director of the Vienna State Opera again. On April 25, 1938, he wrote a letter to Hitler and made suggestions for his return to Vienna. Clemens Krauss' application was indirectly denied. Shortly before, Krauss had been one of those who wanted to prevent a cultural exchange with Vienna. In 1940 Krauss wrote another letter on this matter. Krauss aspired to the vacated position of director of the Vienna Academy for Music and Performing Arts . He clarified his options with Propaganda Minister Goebbels. Krauss had received a confidential message that "Hitler, in the course of very intensive efforts by authoritative circles in Vienna who wanted to win [Krauss] for a leading position," had now decided that the Munich director should concentrate fully on Munich. "Krauss suggested proposed to strive for a solution in Vienna that was closer to the Salzburg Mozarteum , of which he had already become director on June 13, 1939. "The Vienna Academy should be headed by a personality who comes from Vienna's soil," wrote Krauss to Ministerialrat Bade in the Propaganda Ministry. On February 23, 1941 Krauss had a meeting with Vienna's Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach , who Krauss would have liked to have in Vienna. It was agreed that any future activity by Krauss in Vienna should be declared as “pure guest performances so that the Führer does not get angry”. In May 1941, after six years, Krauss had another interview with Hitler that only dealt with Krauss' Viennese ambitions. Hitler completely refused to let Krauss go to Vienna. On September 13th he was appointed director of the Salzburg Festival.

Relationship to the Mozarteum

On November 17, 1938, Goebbels and Krauss clarified some questions about the future of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Krauss agreed to take over the management and build up a well-founded conducting school. At his initiative, the Mozarteum was declared a music college on June 13, 1939 . On the same day, Clemens Krauss was appointed head of the Mozarteum University of Music and head of the Mozarteum Foundation, against the resistance of the Munich Gauleitung . The Gauleitung in Munich denied Krauss the political suitability for this office on the grounds that he was neither a member of the NSDAP nor of any other NS associations. The relationship with Hitler and with Goebbels, however, protected Krauss from these objections; In addition, the NSDAP offices in Vienna certified Krauss that he had always been National Socialist.

During the ceremonial opening act of the Mozarteum Music Academy, the Prussian Minister of Culture and Reich Minister for Science, Education and National Education, Bernhard Rust , Gauleiter Friedrich Rainer and high representatives of the NSDAP were present in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum. Clemens Krauss spoke the following words during his address: “At this solemn moment, I am taking over the artistic direction of the music college. At this point I vow to manage the property entrusted to me as a high school of art with all the awe that befits us artists in this city, where Mozart learned as a student, with deep humility in front of the genius Mozart and in front of the forward storming sublime Master and artist Adolf Hitler. "

Salzburg Festival 1939

Festival director Erwin Kerber was summoned to the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin on December 9, 1938 and was given the program of the Salzburg Festival 1939 that had already been discussed with Hitler and dictated by him. The festival should last from July 30th to September 6th and include concerts as well as opera and drama. Selected conductors were Leopold Stokowski , Victor de Sabata and Willem Mengelberg , but not Clemens Krauss. Kerber was also informed that “the Propaganda Ministry is the actual and responsible organizer of the festival.” On April 8, 1939, the Austrian Volks-Zeitung announced the Salzburger Johann Strauss Concert at the presentation of the repertoire that was finally set by the Reich Propaganda Ministry Salzburg Festival in 1939.

From Joseph Goebbels' address on May 21, 1939 at the cultural policy rally during the 2nd Reich Music Days in Düsseldorf 1939:

“Today the Salzburg Festival and the Mozarteum in Salzburg can no longer be misused as a somewhat stunted and sterile representation of so-called Austrian people. They are the property of the culture of our National Socialist Empire. We have made it our priority to guarantee absolute security for the three Vienna orchestras and the Sudeten German Philharmonic through large government grants. […] Incidentally, after the extermination of the Jews from the former so-called Austrian music, we can see a steadily increasing organic recovery process in this sector of our musical creation and recreation. "

Exactly two months after the opening of the Mozarteum Academy of Music, the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Clemens Krauss gave their “Third Orchestra Concert” on August 13, 1939 in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum as part of the Salzburg Festival in 1939. The program of this concert was identical to that of the “ Extraordinary Concert ”by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Clemens Krauss on December 31, 1939 in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Music Association , which is considered to be the beginning of the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Concerts . The New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, which has become a tradition, goes back to Krauss.

Artistic director of the Salzburg Festival from 1941

In 1941 Krauss saw the Salzburg Festival in 1942 in danger of "falling victim to the access of Berlin's art-political authorities." The festival was to be directed by Reich dramaturge Rainer Schlösser and the music department of the Propaganda Ministry. “It was planned to withdraw the prerogative of the Vienna Philharmonic in Salzburg, to carry out theatrical performances with Berlin artists, etc.” At the request of the Salzburg authorities at the time, Krauss made himself available to direct the Salzburg Festival.

Krauss held numerous artistic activities in the Third Reich . On September 13, 1941, Clemens Krauss was commissioned by Hitler to take over the Salzburg Festival as artistic director. According to Krauss, "by virtue of [his] artistic authority, he ensured that the Austrian character of the festival was preserved."

Krauss emphasized to the Vienna Reichsleiter Baldur von Schirach that he “still attaches importance to the fact that the Vienna State Opera is represented significantly at this festival, but such an invitation would only be considered for those bodies that are still intact and at artistic level Reichsleiter von Schirach agreed to his request and assured Krauss that the Vienna Philharmonic would take part in the festival. To his surprise, Krauss received a message from the Reich Governor shortly afterwards , stating that the Vienna Philharmonic and the State Opera Choir would not be able to participate in the Salzburg Festival this year. The State Opera had to give Wehrmacht performances in Vienna from August 15th.

Krauss passed this message on to Goebbels and asked for a new decision. As a compromise, von Schirach Krauss set the condition of having the entire Vienna State Opera perform with Georg Friedrich Handel's Rodelinde . Krauss had to reject this suggestion, as it was the wish of the Führer and Goebbels to preserve the uniqueness of the Salzburg Festival. In order to guarantee this, “at the Salzburg Festival only operas and plays would have to be brought out in a previously unknown cast, conception, staging and down to the smallest clean rehearsal and neither before nor after in any city in Greater Germany in the presentation that was brought out in Salzburg get to the performance. ”The Reichsstatthalter remained on his negative position. Thereupon Krauss tried to refer the matter to the high command of the Wehrmacht in Berlin in order to come to an agreement.

In order not to endanger the Salzburg Festival, however, he reached an agreement with Goebbels, if an agreement with Vienna could not be reached, to invite the Munich State Orchestra and the Opera Choir for the opera performances and the Berlin Philharmonic for the concerts . To further demonstrate his friendly attitude towards Vienna, Krauss invited the Vienna Burgtheater under the leadership of Lothar Müthel . The Burgtheater should put on new productions of Iphigenie auf Tauris and Johann Nestroys He wants to make a joke . In this way he fulfilled the long-cherished wish of the Burgtheater to appear as a closed ensemble at the festival.

In the end, an agreement was reached, but only on the condition that the Vienna Philharmonic play the operas not as the Vienna Philharmonic, but as the State Opera Orchestra. The concerts should only be allowed to be labeled as being performed by the Vienna Philharmonic.

Dispute with the Vienna Philharmonic from 1933

Since April 1933, Clemens Krauss and the Vienna Philharmonic had been in dispute. At the annual general meeting of the Vienna Philharmonic on April 24, 1933, 85 members voted in a secret ballot in favor of “declaring war on Director Krauss”. “This sealed the end of the Krauss era.” On the following day, April 25, Clemens Krauss had entered in his data book: “Due to an inferior behavior of a newly elected executive of the Vienna Philharmonic, I am resigning from my position as permanent conductor of the Philharmonic subscription concerts . "

The "official reconciliation with the Orchestra" on 27 March 1943. With respect to these wrote Philharmonic Board Clemens Hellberg in democracy of the kings in the chapter Volkssturm unit Vienna Philharmonic : "While the Red Army was already at the gates of Vienna, the Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Krauss works by Debussy and Ravel ! ”At that time both were forbidden compositions from“ enemy territory ”. “The former opera director was the only prominent conductor who had not left. Furtwängler and Karl Böhm were reported 'sick', but Clemens Krauss stayed in Vienna with the Philharmonic and made up for a lot. The official reconciliation with the orchestra had already taken place on March 27, 1943, when Krauss received the Ring of Honor of the Vienna Philharmonic on his 50th birthday and emphasized in front of the assembled plenary that only the Vienna Philharmonic would come for him as director of the Salzburg Festival Festivals in consideration. "

The representative of the Vienna Philharmonic, Leopold Kainz, wrote on August 1, 1942 in his "memorial protocol" about his discussion with Clemens Krauss:

"According to [the] statements of Mr. Gen. Int. I explained to Krauss that from the orchestra there was never an opposing mood to Salzburg, although the higher authorities made subtle attempts to create such a feeling in us. Especially the new productions in June and the intended many double performances in July made (sic) the opinion that there was a method to make the orchestra so tired of work that it declined to participate in the Salzburg Festival because it physically and mentally after such a busy season and a rest break of 10 days is not able to immediately start working again with an increased workforce, as required by the Salzburg Festival.

It is also incorrect to claim that the Wr. Philh. Gen. Int. Reject Krauss. On the contrary, we work with Mr. Gen. Int. Krauss is happy to work together as long as the samples are not tiring, as we comb through this, which is very valuable from time to time, as the Gen. Int. Krauss undertakes to perceive it as artistically important, valuable and necessary. At the end of the debate, I thanked Gen. Int. Krauss for inviting us to come to Salzburg and for his really generous commitment to our orchestra and asked him to continue to weigh us down and to accept the assurance that we will always be happy to come to Salzburg, as this city is world famous for its Festival that has become part of the fame and reputation of the Vienna Philharmonic. Finally, I asked the higher authorities in Vienna and Berlin to work so that the end of the season of the State Opera and the beginning of the festival work would be arranged in such a way that the orchestra was given a closed vacation of at least four weeks, which the orchestra would have absolutely necessary to maintain his artistic performance.

For the Vienna Philharmonic signed Leopold Kainz "

Founding conductor of the New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic

Clemens Krauss is the founding conductor of the New Year's Concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1941; he conducted it until 1945 and again from 1948 until 1954, the year of his death. The first concert of this kind had already taken place on December 31, 1939, also under the direction of Krauss. Not until 1941 did it take place on New Year's Day. During the years when Krauss was banned from working, the internationally renowned Austrian conductor Josef Krips conducted the New Year's Concert in 1946 and 1947.

Last and post-war years

From 1943, Krauss was repeatedly the target of political intrigue. In the same year, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, he was intended to be the recipient of the Goethe Medal , but Goebbels refused, referring to Krauss' age. Krauss, who always seemed well informed, was able to refute criticism of a performance of the Magic Flute at the Salzburg Festival in 1943 by Heinz Drewes with appropriate "counter-writings". He used his political connections to gain advantages for his ensemble in the final years of the war. For example, he secured six “ Aryanized ” apartments for members of his ensemble . Further, isolated intrigues by Nazi functionaries at the Rosenberg Office against Krauss were unsuccessful with reference to Hitler's protective hand. In the final phase of the Second World War , when the theaters were closed on September 1, 1944, Krauss was on the Gottbegnadeten list , a list compiled by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and Hitler, in which the most important artists of the Nazi regime were listed. This naming released him from the war effort.

In a letter to Oberregierungsrat Horner from the Office for Security of the City of Salzburg, Clemens Krauss commented on the allegations made against him after the end of the war on November 30, 1945:

“The third accusation, that after the National Socialist overthrow, I appropriated the direction of the Salzburg Festival out of profitability, is a complete distortion of the facts. If that had been my intention, I would have conducted in Salzburg as early as 1938. In 1939 the festival management moved me to conduct a rather old, sloppy performance of 'Don Giovanni'. At the request of Dr. Kerber my acceptance, which I later regretted. The performance was bad because there were only few opportunities for rehearsals and the cast, despite the good singers, did not have a uniform level, let alone a festival level. Based on this experience, I canceled directing opera performances for the next few years. In 1941 I conducted only two orchestral concerts in view of my longstanding ties with the Vienna Philharmonic. "

The "very old, sloppy idea of ​​'Don Giovanni'" was the resumption of the production of the Salzburg Festival from 1938 under conductor Karl Böhm . In his long letter to the Office for Security in Salzburg, Clemens Krauss mentioned neither the Johann Strauss concert at the Salzburg Festival on August 13, 1939, nor the two other Strauss concerts he conducted on August 23, 1942 and 22. August 1943.

After the Battle of Vienna , Krauss conducted a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic on April 27, 1945 at the express request of the Soviet cultural administration. After that, however, he was banned from practicing his profession; Not until 1947 did Clemens Krauss regularly conduct again at the Vienna State Opera, with the Vienna Philharmonic and in 1953 Richard Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival .

Krauss was married to the singer Margarete Abraham (* July 19, 1890, † 1963) in his first marriage from 1921 to 1930. From this marriage he had two sons: Octavian Krauss, lawyer (born January 11, 1923; † March 2, 2004), Oliver Hector Krauss, actor, author and editor at ZDF in the television play and film departments (born October 20, 1926; † May 3, 2001). Second marriage to the Romanian soprano Viorica Ursuleac . Clemens Krauss died during a concert tour in Mexico. His funeral took place on July 12, 1954 in Ehrwald in Tyrol, where he had spent many days of vacation and his old age with his wife Viorica Krauss-Ursuleac.


Music Mile Vienna

In Vienna, a public park in Donaustadt was first named after Krauss, but this actually merged into the newly created Danube Park , whereupon a newly created park in Hernals was named after him as Clemens-Krauss-Park in 1966 .


Web links

Commons : Clemens Krauss  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ In detail: Michael H. Kater: The Twisted Muse - Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich , New York / Oxford 1997, p. 52 ff.
  2. Michael H. Kater: The Twisted Muse - Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich , New York / Oxford 1997, p. 52 ff.
  3. a b c d e f g Street names in Vienna since 1860 as “Political Places of Remembrance” (PDF; 4.4 MB), p. 150ff, final research project report, Vienna, July 2013
  4. a b c Götz Klaus Kende, Signe Scanzonide: The principal Clemens Krauss: facts, comparisons, conclusions . Ed .: Clemens Krauss Archive Vienna. Schneider Tutzing, 1998.
  5. ^ Johannes Hofinger: The Leopoldskron Files . Publisher Anton Pustet, Salzburg / Munich 2005.
  6. ^ Edda Fuhrich, Gisela Prossnitz: The Salzburg Festival: Your story in dates, testimonies and pictures . Volume I, 1920-1945. Residenz-Verlag, Salzburg / Vienna 1990, nationalization of the Mozarteum, p. 253 .
  7. ^ Edda Fuhrich, Gisela Prossnitz: The Salzburg Festival: Your story in dates, testimonies and pictures . Volume I, 1920-1945. Residenz-Verlag, Salzburg / Vienna 1990, nationalization of the Mozarteum, p. 248 f .
  8. Salzburg Festival Abc. In: Salzburger Volks-Zeitung. Austrian National Library, April 8, 1939, accessed on May 13, 2011 .
  9. ^ Sound excerpt from the Goebbels speech. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on July 7, 2011 ; Retrieved May 13, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. a b c d e Götz Klaus Kende, Signe Scanzonide: The principal Clemens Krauss: facts, comparisons, conclusions . Ed .: Clemens Krauss Archive Vienna. Schneider Tutzing, 1998, p. 259 ff .
  11. Clemens Hellsberg: Democracy of the Kings . = Swiss publishing house / Schott / Kremayr & Scherau, Zurich / Mainz / Vienna 1992, p. 440 .
  12. a b Clemens Hellsberg: Democracy of the Kings . = Swiss publishing house / Schott / Kremayr & Scherau, Zurich / Mainz / Vienna 1992, p. 497 .
  13. New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic . Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  14. Oliver Rathkolb : Loyal to the Führer and God-Grace. Artist elite in the Third Reich , Österreichischer Bundesverlag Vienna 1991
  15. ^ Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 .