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Ernst Kunwald

Ernst Kunwald (April 14, 1868 – December 12, 1939) was an Austrian conductor.

Ernst Kunwald was born and died in Vienna. He studied law at the University of Vienna, earning his Dr. Juris in 1891. He also studied piano with Teodor Leszetycki and composition with Hermann Graedener. At the Leipzig Conservatory he studied with the composer Salomon Jadassohn.

He conducted opera in the following cities: Rostock (1895–1897), Sondershausen (1897–1898), Essen (1898–1900), Halle (1900–1901), Madrid (1901–1902), Frankfurt (1902–1905), and at Berlin’s Kroll Opera House (1905−1906).

He served as assistant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (1907–1912). He was the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 1912–1917 and the Cincinnati May Festival 1914–1917. His approach to conducting was very different than his predecessor in Cincinnati, the flamboyant Leopold Stokowski. A Stokowski detractor, J. Herman Thuman, wrote a review in The Cincinnati Enquirer that Kunwald “…does not find it necessary to resort to vaudeville stunts to gain the acclaim of the crowd”. American premiers in Cincinnati under Kunwald included Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony. He also conducted the orchestra’s first recording, for Columbia Records, on January 13, 1917: the Barcarolle from Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann.

America’s entry into World War I caused the downfall of the Austrian conductor’s career in Cincinnati. On November 17, 1917 the Daughters of the American Revolution brought pressure on the public safety director of Pittsburgh to forbid Kunwald’s conducting his orchestra in that city. He was arrested by the United States Marshals Service December 8, 1917 and released from jail the next day. His resignation as conductor was accepted by the board at that time. On January 12, 1918 he was interned under the Alien Enemies Act and imprisoned at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. He was joined in internment by fellow conductor Karl Muck, who was arrested March 25, 1918. The evidence on which Kunwald was interned was never fully divulged, but conducting German music and pride in his homeland may have been considered overly propagandistic. He conducted the Star-Spangled Banner before one concert after telling the orchestra and audience (many of whom were German) that his sympathies were with his own country. This information was noted in a memo dated December 19, 1917 from J. Edgar Hoover to the United States Attorney General. His sentiments led to the revocation of his honorary membership in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity in May 1919 (Sinfonia Handbook, Spring 1939, p. 24).

After deportation Kunwald conducted at Königsberg (1920–1927) and then the Konzerthausorchester Berlin (Berlin Symphony Orchestra) (1928–1931).

Ernst Kunwald was 5 feet 9 inches tall, with dark hair and blue eyes. He was married to Lina, a German citizen born in 1869.

A review of a concert he led with the New York Philharmonic in February 1906 described him as “not a great conductor; not one with the finest feelings or a subtle sense for the deeper things in music; but he is a capable one, in many ways an intelligent one, a vigorous and energetic one”.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 14th, 1868 (Vienna), Died Vienna

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1917

Roles Represented in DAHR: director

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 49066 12-in. 1/13/1917 Barcarolle Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ; Ernst Kunwald Orchestra director  
Columbia 49069 12-in. 1/13/1917 Pathetique symphony Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49070 12-in. 1/15/1917 Waltz of the hours Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ; Ernst Kunwald Orchestra director  
Columbia 49071 12-in. 1/15/1917 Blue Danube waltz Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ; Ernst Kunwald Orchestra director  
Columbia 49072 12-in. 1/14/1917 Grand march Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49073 12-in. 1/14/1917 Andante Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49074 12-in. 1/14/1917 The triumphal entry of the bojaren Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ; Ernst Kunwald Orchestra director  
Columbia 49075 12-in. 1/14/1917 Die Fledermaus : Overture, part 1 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49076 12-in. 1/14/1917 Die Fledermaus : Overture, part 2 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49077 12-in. 1/14/1917 Fra diavolo : Overture, part 1 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  
Columbia 49078 12-in. 1/14/1917 Fra diavolo : Overture, part 2 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Orchestra director  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Kunwald, Ernst," accessed October 30, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111600.

Kunwald, Ernst. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111600.

"Kunwald, Ernst." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 30 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111600

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