Walter Goehr

Walter Goehr

Walter Goehr (28 May 1903, Berlin - 4 December, 1960, Sheffield) was a German composer.

Goehr was born in Berlin where studied with Arnold Schoenberg and embarked on a conducting career, before being forced as a Jew to seek employment outside Germany, while working for Berlin Radio in 1932. He was invited to become music director for the Gramophone Company (later EMI), so he moved to London. As well as teaching composition in Britain, he also instructed pupils in conducting, one of whom was the young Wally Stott, later known as Angela Morley. In England he worked for the Columbia record company, and between 1945 and 1948 was conductor of the BBC Theatre Orchestra (the predecessor of today’s BBC Concert Orchestra); he was also a skilled arranger. He was one of many musicians of European origin and training recruited by Tippett to the staff of Morley College. Goehr conducted many important premieres at Morley, including the first British performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.His first successful work was "Malpopita" in 1931, an opera especially designed for being broadcast. This work was scheduled for its first live performance in 6 May 2004, in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, Abspannwerk Humboldt.

In 1942, he made a new arrangement of Mussorgsky's piano suite "Pictures at an Exhibition", with a subsidiary piano part. In 1946, he arranged a number of Mussorgsky's piano pieces into the orchestral suite "Pictures from the Crimea".

He died in the City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom, on 4 December 1960, immediately after conducting a performance of Handel's Messiah.

His son Alexander Goehr is a composer living in the United Kingdom.


* Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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