Willem Mengelberg


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(b Utrecht, 1871; d Zuort, Switz., 1951).

Dutch conductor. Mus. dir., Lucerne 1891. Appointed permanent cond. of Concertgebouw Orch. of Amsterdam 1895, remaining until 1945 and making it one of the great orchs. of the world. He particularly championed works of Mahler and Strauss in early years of 20th cent., winning friendship and admiration of both composers, who went to Amsterdam to conduct the orch. in their own works. Strauss ded. Ein Heldenleben to Mengelberg and the orch. In 1920 Mengelberg held a fest. in Amsterdam at which all Mahler's syms. and other major works were perf., the first such proclamation of faith in the composer. Amer. début NYPO 1905, London 1911. Cond. NYPO, 1921–9. Prof. of mus., Utrecht Univ. from 1933. Salzburg Fest. début 1934 (Vienna PO). Frequent guest cond. of Eng. orchs. In 1945, because of alleged collaboration with the Nazi conquerors of Holland, was forbidden by Dutch govt. to ‘exercise his profession in public in any matter whatever for a period of 6 years 1945–51’. He died in exile in the 6th year of this ‘sentence’, the justice of which is now questioned.

Subjects: Music.

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