Erich Kleiber

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Arturo Toscanini (right) is received by Erich Kleiber (left) at the Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin in May 1930 .
Floor plaque for Erich Kleiber in Vienna, Kärntner Strasse

Erich Kleiber (born August 5, 1890 in Vienna , † January 27, 1956 in Zurich ) was an Austrian conductor .


Kleiber was born in Vienna as the son of a poor family of teachers. He spent his youth and studies in Prague. There he studied philosophy and music. His time in Prague was interrupted by a longer stay in Vienna.

After various shorter engagements in Prague (1911–1912), Darmstadt, Barmen-Elberfeld, Düsseldorf and Mannheim, Max von Schillings appointed him in 1923 as successor to Leo Blech at the State Opera in Berlin, after he had previously impressed as a guest conductor with Fidelio . He stayed there for twelve years and shaped German musical life like only Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss . In addition to caring for the works of Beethoven and Wagner - he was not averse to the lighter muse either - he premiered Alban Berg's Wozzeck (1925) and Janáček's opera Jenufa for the German premiere. Between 1923 and 1929 he produced over 100 records.

Erich Kleiber was “a resolutely anti-fascist conductor”. In 1935 he had to resign as an advocate of modern music ( Alban Berg , Ernst Krenek , Darius Milhaud and Igor Stravinsky ) under the pressure of the Hitler regime. He emigrated to Cuba and later to Argentina ( Buenos Aires ). There he helped many classical and romantic musical works to their South American premieres. He also conducted works by South American composers. In 1938 he was granted honorary citizenship in Argentina .

Kleiber returned to Europe in 1950. He had tried to conduct again in 1951 at the Berlin State Opera , but felt snubbed by the promises of the GDR leadership that had not been kept . He was also unable to put down roots in West Berlin, and an engagement in Vienna did not materialize. He lived for some time in a Zurich hotel.

He died surprisingly in Zurich on January 27, 1956. His remains are buried in the Zurich Hönggerberg cemetery (grave number F81011).

Erich Kleiber was married to the American Ruth Goodrich and is the father of Veronika and the conductor Carlos Kleiber .

Discography (selection)

  • Orchestral Showpieces - Berliner Philharmoniker 1930–34, Telefunken Legacy 3984-28407-2 (1999)
  • Concert Recordings with the NBC Orchestra 1947-48, 4 CDs Music And Arts
  • Wagner: Tristan and Isolde - Teatro Colon Orchestra 1948, Myto
  • The Great Conductors - Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 - Czech Philharmony, 1955; Mozart: Symphony No. 40 - London Philharmonic Orchestra, 1949; Schubert: Symphony No. 5 - NDR Orchestra, 1953; R. Strauss: "Till Eulenspiegel" - NDR Orchestra, 1951 ao 1949–55, 2 CDs IMG-EMI
  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 3, 5, 6, 7 - Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam 1950–1953, DECCA
  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 9 - Vienna 1952–55, DECCA
  • Verdi: I vespri siciliani - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino 1951, Urania
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Vienna Philharmonic 1952, DECCA
  • Tchaikovski: Symphonies Nos. 4, 6 - Paris Conservatoire Orchestra 1953, DECCA
  • R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier - Vienna Philharmonic 1954, 3 CDs DECCA
  • Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro - Vienna Philharmonic 1955, 3 CDs DECCA
  • Weber: Der Freischütz - Cologne RSO 1955, 2 CDs Koch; Capriccio
  • Beethoven: Fidelio - Cologne RSO 1956, 2 CDs Koch; Capriccio
  • Complete Decca Recordings 1949–1955, 6 CDs DECCA


  • Wilfried Brennecke:  Kleiber, Erich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-428-00192-3 , p. 730 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Cesar A. Dillon: Erich Kleiber: a discography . Ediciones Tres Tiempos, Buenos Aires 1990, ISBN 950-18-0098-9
  • John Russell: Erich Kleiber: a memoir . Andre Deutsch, London 1957; German edition: Erich Kleiber: a biography . Albert Langen / Georg Müller Verlag, Munich 1958
  • Matthias Pasdzierny: Erich Kleiber . In: Lexicon of Persecuted Musicians from the Nazi Era ,

Web links

Commons : Erich Kleiber  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jonathan Carr: The Wagner Clan. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-455-50079-0 , p. 277.