Ignatz Waghalter Tickets | 2024-2025 Tour & Event Dates | GoComGo.com

Ignatz Waghalter Tickets


Events0 results

Filter By


Ignatz Waghalter was a Polish-German composer and conductor.

Waghalter was born into a poor but musically-accomplished Jewish family in Warsaw. His eldest brother, Henryk Waghalter (1869-1961), became a renowned cellist at the Warsaw Conservatory. Wladyslaw (1885-1940), the youngest Waghalter brother, became a noted violinist.

Waghalter made his way to Berlin at 17. There, he first studied with Philipp Scharwenka and then came to the attention of Joseph Joachim, the great violinist and close friend of Johannes Brahms. With the support of Joachim, Waghalter was admitted into the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, where he studied composition and conducting under the direction of Friedrich Gernsheim.

Waghalter's early chamber music revealed an intense melodic imagination that was to remain a distinctive characteristic of his compositional work. An early String Quartet in D Major, Opus 3, was highly praised by Joachim. Waghalter's Sonata for Violin and Pianoforte in F Minor, Opus 5, received the prestigious Mendelssohn-Preis in 1902, when the composer was only 21.

In 1907, Waghalter secured a post as conductor at the Komische Oper in Berlin, assisting Arthur Nikisch, where his reputation grew rapidly. That was followed by a brief tenure at the Grillo-Theater, the Stadttheater in Essen (1911–12). Waghalter's appointment as principal conductor at the new Deutsche Opernhaus in Berlin established his position as a major figure in German music. It was inaugurated, under Waghalter's direction, on 7 November 1912 with a performance of Fidelio.

He championed the music of Giacomo Puccini, whose operas had previously failed to win public acceptance in Germany. The first performance of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West in Germany was conducted by Waghalter in March 1913 at the Deutsche Opernhaus. Its triumphant reception secured for Puccini's operas a permanent place in the repertoires of Germany's opera houses. Waghalter also conducted the German debut performances of Tosca and La Bohème and also of Ralph Vaughan Williams' second symphony in 1923.

Three of Waghalter's own operas received their premier at the Deutsche Opernhaus: Mandragola, based on a Renaissance comedy by Machiavelli, in January 1914, which was booked for a European tour but was abandoned with the outbreak of the First World War; Jugend, based on the tragic realistic work by the German dramatist Max Halbe, in February 1917; and Sataniel, inspired by a Polish fantasy tale, in May 1923. The fervent melodicism of these works marked Waghalter as among the most lyrical of German operatic composers in the pre-1933 era.

Waghalter left the Deutsche Opernhaus in 1923. Traveling to the United States, he succeeded Joseph Stransky as musical director of the New York State Symphony, which he held during the 1925 season. Deeply attached to the cultural life of Berlin, Waghalter turned down an offer to remain at the State Symphony and returned to Germany. He assumed the position of Generalmusikmeister of UFA, the country's largest film production company in Germany.

For UFA, Waghalter composed the original musical score for one of the most extraordinary German films of the Weimar era, Hanns Walter Kornblum's Wunder der Schöpfung. The pathbreaking film, which premiered in Berlin in September 1925, attempted to present in a popular cinematic form the greatest discoveries of modern astronomy. His music was described by one critic as a "sensation."

Waghalter composed several operettas, and he was active as a guest conductor. Waghalter was appointed musical director at the National Opera in Riga, Latvia, for the 1931-32 season. Shortly after his return to Berlin, the Nazis came to power.

In 1934, he went into exile, moving first to Czechoslovakia and then to Austria, where he composed his last opera, Ahasaverus und Esther. Several weeks before the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed by Germany, he and his wife fled to the United States.

Shortly after arriving in New York City, Waghalter initiated a campaign to establish a classical orchestra of African-American musicians. He secured the interest and support of militant New York trade unions, the noted African-American musician Alfred Jack Thomas, and such prominent representatives of the Harlem Renaissance as James Weldon Johnson. The orchestra performed publicly under Waghalter's direction in 1938. However, the project could not obtain sufficient funding to be sustained.

Though Waghalter appeared occasionally as a guest conductor, his opportunities were extremely limited, and he died in relative obscurity in New York in 1949, at 68.

You are here
Top of page