Otto Klemperer

Biography

Born: May 14, 1885   Died: July 6, 1973  
German conductor Otto Klemperer attended the Hoch Conservatorium in Frankfurt-am-Main, studied violin and piano at the Klindworth-Scharwenka and Stern Conservatories in Berlin, and composition with the German composer Pfitzner. He made his début in Berlin in 1905, where he conducted fifty performances of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, not a work that would now be identified with Klemperer's serious and profoundly personal approach to Read more music.

Shortly afterwards, he visited Gustav Mahler in Vienna and impressed the composer by playing a scherzo from a Mahler symphony by memory at the piano. With Mahler's personal recommendation, Klemperer was appointed choirmaster and conductor at the German Opera in Prague. He held this post for three years, during which he returned to Vienna to assist in rehearsals for Mahler's later symphonies. Again with Mahler's help, he became conductor at the Hamburg Opera in 1910. There followed a succession of appointments in Barmen (1913), Strasbourg (1914-1916), Cologne (1916-1924) and Wiesbaden (1924-1927) and visits to Barcelona, Rome, the U.S.S.R., and the U.S. between 1920 and 1936.

In 1927, he was engaged as director of the Kroll Opera House in Berlin, where he remained until 1931 when political pressures and financial difficulties forced its closure. In addition to better-known operas, Klemperer introduced new works which ran counter to the Nazis' idealized view of German culture, such as Schoenberg's Die glückliche Hand and Erwartung; Hindemith's two operas, Cardillac and Neues von Tag; and Janacek's From the House of the Dead. Indeed, Klemperer was then noted more for his interest in contemporary music than for his interpretations of the mainstream Classical and Romantic repertory on which, in later life, he concentrated almost entirely.

After a highly successful series of London concerts in 1929, Klemperer returned to Germany in 1931 to conduct the Berlin State Opera. As a Jew, he was in danger of persecution and, though honored with a gold medal for his "outstanding contribution to German culture," a German newspaper of the time sourly commented "[h]is whole outlook ran counter to German thought and feeling."

Klemperer was dismissed in 1933 and fled with his family first to Austria and later to Switzerland. While there, he was appointed conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and lived in California from 1935 to 1939 during which he also conducted the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. In 1937, he helped to reorganize the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, though refused to become its conductor.

Following a brain tumor that left him partially paralyzed, his career faltered. In 1940, Klemperer became a U.S. citizen, but his sufferings were increased by a manic depressive state characterized by recurring cycles of exhilaration and depression. In 1951, an accident at the Montreal airport forced Klemperer to conduct from a chair. To prove himself competent, he hired an orchestra to perform a concert of works of his own choice at Carnegie Hall. It was a success but, after an argument with American immigration authorities, Klemperer returned to Europe where he continued conducting in Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, and France.

The peak of Klemperer's career came in 1959 with the Philharmonia Orchestra, based in London. When attempts were made to disband the orchestra in 1964, its members appointed him president, and the orchestra was reconstituted. As the New Philharmonia, the group reached new heights in the Beethoven cycles during the early 1960s. In the same period he conducted at Covent Garden Opera House. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 117 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Beethoven: 9 x 9th Symphony
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 265548 Release Date: 12/11/2020   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein,  Otto Klemperer,  Herbert von Karajan,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $74.98
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  • 2.
    50 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548163 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Heather Harper,  Thomas Allen,  Elisabeth Gale  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Bernard Haitink,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    CD: $10.99
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  • 3.
    Deluxe Operas - Five Legendary Opera Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 546617 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Xavier Depraz,  Michel Hamel,  Ernest Blanc,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Otto Klemperer,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Georges Prętre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 4.
    Philharmonia Orchestra: Birth of a Legend
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 534951 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert,  Ottorino Respighi,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Agnes Giebel,  Christa Ludwig,  Walter Berry,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Guido Cantelli,  Arturo Toscanini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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    CD: $77.49
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  • 5.
    Orfeo 40th Anniversary Edition: Legendary Conductors
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 200011 Release Date: 06/19/2020   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Richard Strauss,  Anton Bruckner,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Hilde Rössl-Majdan,  Lisa Della Casa,  Waldemar Kmentt,  Otto Edelmann
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Carlos Kleiber,  Dimitri Mitropoulos  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 6.
    Beethoven: The Complete Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 539882 Release Date: 12/13/2019   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Birgit Remmert,  Rudolf Schasching,  Robert Holl,  Peter Richards  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Bernard Haitink,  Daniel Barenboim,  Otto Klemperer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Staatskapelle Dresden  ... 
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  • 7.
    Brahms: Symphony No. 4 - Haydn: Symphony No. 101 / Klemperer, BRSO
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900717 Release Date: 08/02/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 8.
    Mozart, Beethoven & Brahms: Orchestral Works / Klamperer
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5152 Release Date: 10/05/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Elfriede Trötschel,  Hans Wilbrink
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
    CD: $24.99
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  • 9.
    Wagner: Der fliegende Hollander / Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 356 Release Date: 04/20/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  James King,  Martti Talvela,  Theo Adam,  Kenneth MacDonald  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus
    CD: $29.99
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  • 10.
    Christa Ludwig: The Complete Recitals on Warner Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 567458 Release Date: 03/23/2018   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Gustav Mahler,  Robert Schumann,  Max Reger  ... 
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Gerald Moore,  Geoffrey Parsons,  Gervase de Peyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer,  Horst Stein,  Karl Forster,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Brahms, Wagner, Mahler & Beethoven: Lieder / Ludwig, Klemperer, Philharmonia
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 566890 Release Date: 02/16/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner,  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner & Debussy / Klemperer
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5145 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Bronislaw Gimpel
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Wagner: Der fliegende Hollander / Klemperer
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 564492 Release Date: 10/27/2017  
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gerhard Unger,  Anja Silja,  Annelies Burmeister,  Martti Talvela  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Klemperer, Gedda, Schwarzkopf, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557671 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Gottlob Frick,  Franz Crass,  Gerhard Unger,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 15.
    Otto Klemperer - Mozart: Symphony No 25 & 36;  Schubert
    Label: Vox Box Legends   Catalog: 7814 Release Date: 07/22/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 16.
    Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream / Klemperer, Baker, Harper, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554931 Release Date: 04/15/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Heather Harper
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 17.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Ludwig, Vickers, Frick, Berry, Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554002 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Gottlob Frick,  Ingeborg Hallstein,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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    On sale! $18.98
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  • 18.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Klemperer, Adam, Silja, Unger, Burnmeister
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554008 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Theo Adam,  Anja Silja,  Martti Talvela,  Ernst Kozub  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus
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  • 19.
    Bach: Mass In B Minor
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552120 Release Date: 09/18/2015  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: The Five Piano Concertos
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552123 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    On sale! $24.98
    CD: $22.99
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  • 21.
    Klemperer Conducts Wagner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552129 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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  • 22.
    Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552125 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Fritz Wunderlich
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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  • 23.
    Mahler: Symphony No. 2
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552126 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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  • 24.
    Beethoven: Complete Symphonies / Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9079 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilma Lipp,  Ursula Boese,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Franz Crass
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 25.
    Anton Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 4, 6 & 7
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9105 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
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