“Dear colleague, next sunday I will conduct Beethoven’s 5th at the Vienna Musikverein. There you will hear the correct tempo.”
Felix Weingartner (…Edler von Münzberg – that‘s a bit better than just „von“) (1863 – 1942) was born in Austria, in a part of the country that is now Croatia, and moved with his family to Graz as a child.
He studied in Weimar with Franz Liszt, who helped him get his first opera „Sakuntala“ premiered in 1884.
He then started his great career as a conductor, working with the best orchestras everywhere: Munich, Hamburg, Vienna (succeeding Gustav Mahler at the Hofoper), Darmstadt, Budapest, Boston, London…
Weingartner was famous for his clear, elegant and „unsentimental“ conducting, and was the first conductor to record all of Beethoven’s Symphonies in the mid-thirties.
He was a well-published editor as well, but he always saw himself primarily as a composer.
He was married five times (a baroness, a singer, an actress…), roughly every ten years.
For many of his songs, he chose rather strange lyrics, and some of them would be difficult to place in a concert setting. They are all typical late-romantic-big-phrase-somewhere-between-Reger-and-Strauss-stuff. His song Liebesfeier (Celebration of love) was a huge success: in the library we found as many copies of this song alone as of all the other ones together.