Johannes Schuler was one of a now-forgotten breed of conductor. In an era in which seemingly every figure at the podium seems to aspire (in their dreams at least) to a high-profile international career, Schuler was content to serve quietly as a kapellmeister, achieving extraordinary levels of excellence leading his various opera companies and their orchestras, without any attention to publicity or self-aggrandizement.
Schuler began hisRead more musical studies in Berlin, but was interrupted by the outbreak of the 1914-18 war. He resumed his training in 1918, and after completing his formal training moved into conducting posts in Gleiwitz, Konigsberg, and Hanover. Schuller moved through a succession of music directorships in Oldenberg, Halle, and Essen. After less than a decade, he became recognized as an extraordinarily gifted director -- his triumphant production of Berg's Wozzeck in March of 1929 at Oldenberg was hailed by the composer as a "veritable miracle." Schuler remained in Germany amid the rise of the Nazis, but he was notable for his early resistance to the party's cultural dictates by staging Paul Hindemith's banned opera Mathis der Maler, a decision that earned him a conductor's appointment at the Berlin Staatsoper.
Schuler presided over the Berlin Staatsoper with integrity and a powerful force of will, which allowed the company to continue functioning despite the ravages of the war, which by 1944 had crippled and depleted virtually every musical institution in Germany other than the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. He was also largely responsible for the Staatsoper's rapid rebuilding after the war's end. He returned to Hanover in 1949, and among his notable achievements was conducting the premiere of Hans Werner Henze's Boulevard Solitude, a landmark of modern German music.
As a recording artist, Schuler's output was limited largely to the period immediately before and after the Second World War. He recorded the Mozart symphonies Nos. 35, 36, and 39 variously with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, and the Dvorak Ninth Symphony in Leipzig, as well as highlights of Otto Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor. He conducted the accompaniment to several recordings by Erna Berger, but his one genuine lasting achievement on record is his 1944 account of Friedrich Von Flotow's Martha with Berger and Peter Anders in Berlin, which was the earliest recording of the full opera and remains one of the finest recordings ever made of this delightful work. ~ Bruce Eder
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