Walter Kaufmann

Kaufmann, Walter. Conductor, comparative musicologist, composer, teacher, b Carlsbad, Bohemia (now Karlovy-Vary, Czechoslovakia), 1 Apr 1907, d Bloomington, Ind, 9 Sept 1984; honorary D MUS (Spokane) 1956, naturalized US 1960.

Kaufmann, Walter

Kaufmann, Walter. Conductor, comparative musicologist, composer, teacher, b Carlsbad, Bohemia (now Karlovy-Vary, Czechoslovakia), 1 Apr 1907, d Bloomington, Ind, 9 Sept 1984; honorary D MUS (Spokane) 1956, naturalized US 1960. After studies at the German U Prague (music and philosophy) and with Franz Schreker and Curt Sachs at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin, he conducted various minor European opera and symphony orchestras. Forced by political events to leave Europe, he went to India in 1934 and became director of European music in 1938 for All-India Radio in Bombay. After war service he was a guest conductor 1946-7 for the BBC in London and assistant music director for J. Arthur Rank films. He moved to Canada in 1947, living first in Halifax, where he was head of the piano department at the Halifax Cons (Maritime Conservatory of Music), and 1948-56 in Winnipeg. There he became conductor of the newly formed Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, was director 1949-53 of the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, and in 1950 revived the Winnipeg Male Voice Choir. He conducted the premiere of his opera Bashmachkin on CBC radio in 1952 with George Kent in the title role and was guest conductor of the CBC Symphony Orchestra twice in 1953 and once in 1954. His opera Sganarelle had its premiere at the University of British Columbia summer opera school in 1958 under the baton of George Schick. In 1957 he joined the University of Indiana, where he taught musicology until his death.

An authority on music of the East, Kaufmann collected songs in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and parts of India. He wrote several books on the subject and articles for US and Canadian periodicals and US and European dictionaries. A prodigious composer, he applied raga techniques in some of his works and combined western and oriental traditions in others. His ballet scores, Visages (1948) and The Rose and the Ring (1949), were commissioned by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and several symphonic pieces were written for the Winnipeg SO. His Coronation Cantata (1953, to words by the Canadian poet James Reaney) had its premiere on CBC radio. The Moldenhauer Archives, Spokane, Wash, holds a collection of his manuscripts and letters.

In 1950 Kaufmann married Freda Trepel (b Winnipeg 1 Mar 1919), pianist and teacher. She studied with Rudolph Ganz in Chicago, making her debut there in 1941, and in New York in 1944. She was soloist with the Winnipeg SO in her husband's Concerto. Following their move to the USA, she taught privately and at Indiana U.

Selected Compositions written in Canada

Stage, TV
Visages, ballet. 1948 (Winnipeg 1950). Ms

The Rose and the Ring, ballet. 1949. Ms

Bashmachkin, opera (Kaufmann, after Gogol). 1950 (Winnipeg 1952). Ms

The Research, opera (Kaufmann). 1951 (Tallahassee, Fla 1953). Ms

A Parfait for Irene, opera (Kaufmann). 1952 (Bloomington, Ind 1952). Ms

The Golden Touch, children's opera (J.M.Sinclair). 1953 (Winnipeg 1954). Ms

Christmas Slippers, TV opera (B. Marsh). 1955 (Winnipeg 1955). Ms

Writings

'Prehistoric music in India,' Dalhousie R, vol 28, Oct 1948.

'The forms of Dhrupad and Khyal in Indian art music,' CMJ, vol 3, Winter 1959

Musical Notations of the Orient (Bloomington, Ind 1967)

The Ragas of North India (Bloomington, Ind 1968)

Tibetan Buddhist Chant (Bloomington, Ind 1975)

Musical References in the Chinese Classics (Detroit 1976)

The Ragas of South India (Bloomington, Ind 1976)

Altindien (Musikgeschichte in Bildern Vol 2 No 8) (Leipzig 1981)

Orchestra

Variations for Strings. 1947. Ms

Faces in the Dark; Main Street (suite); Sinfonietta No. 1 (Symphony No. 5); Strange Town at Night. All 1948. Ms

Swanee River Variations; Divertimento for strings. 1949. Ms

Fantasy. 1949. Pf, orch. Ms

Concerto for piano and orchestra (based on earlier Concertino). 1945-50. Ms Vaudeville Overture (1951); Nocturne for Orchestra (1953); Short Suite (1953). Ms

Three Dances to an Indian Play. 1954. Ms

Also First Sonatina (1948) recorded by Rose Goldblatt (RCI 133) and Sonata (1950) for piano.


Further Reading

  • Noblitt, Thomas, ed. Music East and West: Essays in Honor of Walter Kaufmann (New York 1981)

    MGG, vol 7