Walter Susskind | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Walter Susskind

Walter Susskind (Süsskind). Conductor, pianist, composer, b Prague l May l9l3, naturalized British citizen,d Berkeley, Cal, 25 Mar l980.

Susskind, Walter

Walter Susskind (Süsskind). Conductor, pianist, composer, b Prague l May l9l3, naturalized British citizen,d Berkeley, Cal, 25 Mar l980. After studies at the Prague Cons (piano with Josef Hoffmeister, composition with Josef Suk and Alois Hába, and conducting with George Szell) he made his debut in l934 as assistant conductor at Prague's German Opera House and remained at the historic house until it closed in l938 under the Nazi occupation. Thereafter he conducted the Carl Rosa Opera Co l942-5, Sadler's Wells on a l945 German tour, the Scottish National Orchestra l946-52, the Victoria SO of Melbourne, and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and founded the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, before succeeding Sir Ernest MacMillan as conductor and music director of the TSO in l956. An orchestral workshop which Susskind initiated in l960 at Stratford, Ont, led directly to the founding of the NYO, which Susskind served as music director l960-4 and conducted during the l96l and l963 sessions and on the l966 European tour. He also conducted the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir l960-4, the CBC Symphony Orchestra as a frequent guest, the COC productions of Carmen (l96l), Die Walküre (l962), Der Rosenkavalier (l963), and Don Giovanni (l963), and many Canadian premieres, including (CBC SO, l958) Weinzweig'sWine of Peace, (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, l959) Pierre Mercure'sTriptyque, and (TSO, l960) Morawetz'Symphony No. 2. He appeared as a pianist with the TSO, usually performing Mozart concertos, and in l958 accompanied Teresa Stratas in recital. He conducted the TSO for the CBC TV productions of Strauss' Elektra (l96l) and Mozart's The Magic Flute (l965). In 1962 he became music director of the Aspen Festival. Leaving the TSO in l965, he freelanced in Europe and the USA, then was conductor and music director l968-75 of the St. Louis SO, became music advisor to the Cincinnati SO in 1977, and taught at the University of Southern Illinois, returning occasionally to conduct the TSO. Widely known as a recording conductor when he came to Canada, Susskind conducted performances recorded by the TSO, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the CBC SO (see Discographies of aforementioned), the Toronto Philharmonia, with which he recorded Scored for Ballet, an album of works by Applebaum, Fleming, Surdin, and Weinzweig (Col MS-6763), the St Louis SO, and several leading London orchestras.

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