Karl Böhm

Austrian Conductor

* 1894-08-28 Graz
+ 1981-08-14 Salzburg

Portrait (10k)

Karl Böhm had already studied the law and done a doctor's degree at his hometown Graz when he finally decided that he wanted to become a musician. Hence he studied music with Eusebius Mandyczewski and Guido Adler at Vienna. He started his career as a repetiteur at the Graz Opera, where he debuted as a conductor in 1917 with Neßler's opera "Der Trompeter von Säckingen". In 1921, he was hired to the Munich State Opera by Bruno Walter. In 1927, he became music director at the Darmstadt Opera. As successor to Egon Pollack, he moved to the Hamburg Opera in 1931. In 1933, he debuted at the Vienna State Opera with Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde".
From 1934 to 1943, he was Fritz Busch's successor as general manager of the Semperoper Dresden. His Dresden years are widely regarded as a highlight in Dresden's opera history and as well Germany's opera ensemble culture. It was in these years that he developed a friendship to Richard Strauss, whose operas "Die schweigsame Frau" (1935) and "Daphne" (1938 - dedicated to Böhm!) he created at Dresden. In 1937, he debuted at the Salzburg Festival, where he was a regular guest for many decades.
From 1943 to 1945, and again from 1954 to 1956, he was director of the Vienna State Opera where he was'nt regarded to be very fortunate. Subsequently, he started a major international career as conductor on the concert and opera stage as well as in recordings, especially in the works of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner works. He was regarded a 'last representative' in the great tradition of German and Austrian conductors. In 1957, he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, with Mozart's "Don Giovanni". In 1964, he was awarded the title of Austrian General Musical Director. From 1962 to 1970, he was a regular guest to the Bayreuth Festival. He was also a regular guest to the opera houses and concert stages of Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Milan and Paris. Böhm remained active until his death - in 1981, he conducted Strauss's "Elektra" in a Götz Friedrich opera film.

"One of the hallmarks of Böhm's conducting was its perennially youthful vigor and directness, its lack of pathos and sentimentality. Dramatic climaxes and full sonorities grew out of almost imperceptible accents, out of the natural rhythm of the human breath. His gestures were minimalistic, his baton suggested movement more than it described it." (from the Unitel website)

For more information see the Karl Böhm Page from Unitel or the Karl Böhm Page at www.greatconductors.com.


Recordings with Fritz Wunderlich:

Bach J. S.




Strauss R.

Fritz Wunderlich Homepage