(b Hannsdorf [now Hanušorice], Moravia, 30 Aug 1902; d Toronto, 6 Oct 1973). Canadian music educator, administrator and composer of Czech birth. After studying composition in Brno with Bruno Weigl, a pupil of Bruckner, he obtained the doctorate in law from the University of Prague (1926). At the University of Berlin he studied music with Hermann Abert, Curt Sachs and Johannes Wolf, among others; he undertook further study privately with Franz Schreker, Rudolf Breithaupt and Frederic Lamond. After brief medical studies at Masaryk University, Brno, he returned to Berlin to become a music journalist for Melos, Die Weltbühne and Vorwärts. In 1933, he fled Germany to Mallorca, where he studied folk music and taught. After relocating to England for a short period in 1936, he settled in Toronto where he taught at Upper Canada College (from 1937).
Hired to implement the reorganization of higher musical education in Toronto, Walter founded the Conservatory Opera School in 1946, out of which emerged the Canadian Opera Company. He instituted the first Canadian degree programme for music education, preparing specialists to teach in Canada’s elementary and secondary schools, and in 1955 introduced Orff’s teaching methods to North America. As director of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto (1952–68), he inaugurated the first Canadian electronic music studio. Active nationally and internationally, he founded and served organizations such as the Canadian Association of University Schools of Music (1965; now the Canadian University Music Society), the International Society for Music Education (president 1953–5) and the Inter-American Music Council of the Pan-American Union (president 1969–72).
Walter’s early compositions, such as the Trio (1940, awarded the Canadian Performing Rights Society Award in 1943), are crafted in a late Romantic style. Later works, including the Sonata for Piano (1950) and the Concerto for Orchestra (1958), feature thematic fragmentation within an atonal idiom.
Pf Trio, 1940; Sonata, vn, pf, 1940; Sonatina, vc, pf, 1940; Music for Hpd and Str, 1941; Sym., g, 1942; Suite, pf, 1945; For the Fallen (L. Binyon), SATB, orch, 1949; Sonata, pf, 1950; Conc. for Orch, 1958; Comus (radio score, J. Milton), 1959; Summer Idyl, elecs, 1960, collab. M. Schaeffer, H. Olnick; Legend, pf, 1962; Elec Dance, elecs, 1963
MSS in C-On
‘Education in Music’, Music in Canada, ed. E. MacMillan (Toronto, 1955), 133–45
ed.: Aspects of Music in Canada (Toronto, 1969)
‘The Orff Schulwerk in American Education’, Inter-American Music Council Bulletin, lxxvii (1970), 1–10
‘A Composer’s Story’, Canadian Composer, no.77 (1973), 4–13
EMC2 (P. McIntyre) [incl. further writings and bibliography]
R.Mercer: ‘Profile: Arnold Walter’, Opera Canada, x/2 (1959), 12–13, 36–7
E.B.Seiffert: Arnold Walter: His Contribution to Music Education in Canada 1946–68 (thesis, U. of Western Ontario, 1980)
Walter [Schlesinger], Bruno
(b Berlin, 15 Sept 1876; d Beverly Hills, CA, 17 Feb 1962). American conductor and composer of German birth. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Walter attended the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, initially planning to become a concert pianist. Around 1889, however, he resolved to pursue a conducting career after hearing Hans von Bülow direct an orchestra. He obtained a position as vocal coach in Cologne, making his conducting début there in 1894 in a performance of Lortzing's Der Waffenschmied. From 1894 to 1896 he worked in Hamburg under Mahler, who profoundly influenced Walter's artistic development. Impressed by his protégé, Mahler found employment for him in Breslau in 1896, though the director there requested that Bruno Schlesinger change his name, ostensibly because Schlesinger was too common a name in Breslau, the capital of Silesia.
After appointments in Pressburg, 1897–8, Riga, 1898–1900 (where he met the soprano Elsa Korneck, his future wife), and Berlin, 1900–01, Walter accepted an invitation to come to Vienna as Mahler's assistant. From 1901 to 1912 he worked at the Vienna Hofoper, eventually acquiring Austrian citizenship, and made guest appearances in Prague, Rome, Munich and elsewhere. In 1909 he conducted a performance of his own First Symphony in Vienna and enjoyed a successful London concert début, followed in 1910 by performances of Tristan und Isolde and Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers at Covent Garden. After Mahler's death, Walter gave the première of his mentor's Das Lied von der Erde (1911) and Ninth Symphony (1912); as director of the Singakademie (1911–13), he also introduced Mahler's Eighth Symphony to Vienna (1912).
Appointed Royal Bavarian Generalmusikdirektor in 1913, Walter spent nearly a decade in Munich. There he conducted tirelessly in three opera houses and again gave important first performances, among them Korngold's Violanta and Der Ring des Polykrates (presented together in 1916) and, the following year, Pfitzner's Palestrina, which featured the soprano Delia Reinhardt, who became a lifelong friend. He also regularly led the Musikalische Akademie in symphonic concerts. Although Walter considered his years in Munich ‘the most important epoch’ of his career, for personal reasons he left his position there in 1922. From 1919 to 1932 he appeared yearly as guest conductor of the Berlin PO, once sharing the podium with Ethel Smyth in a concert of her music (1928). His New York début in 1923 initiated a long and cordial relationship with America. In 1925 Walter began conducting at the Salzburg Festival and became Generalmusikdirektor of the Städtische Oper in Berlin; he introduced Puccini’s Turandot to that city in 1926 and retained his post there until 1929. Parisian audiences enthusiastically received his Mozart opera cycle in 1928. He also worked with several British orchestras, and between 1924 and 1931 scored notable successes at Covent Garden. Walter's last position in Germany was that of Gewandhauskapellmeister in Leipzig (1929–33).
When Germany fell to the Nazis in 1933, Walter returned to Austria. He again travelled widely, performing in New York, Amsterdam, Florence and elsewhere. At Salzburg he accompanied Lotte Lehmann at the piano in annual recitals (1933–7) and won high praise for productions of Tristan, Don Giovanni (with Pinza), Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and other operas. From 1936 to 1938 he was artistic director of the Vienna Staatsoper. He also made a number of superb discs with the Vienna PO in the 1930s; those of Mahler's Ninth Symphony and the first act of Die Walküre with Melchior and Lehmann rank among his finest recordings. With the Anschluss, however, Walter once more found himself an exile. Although he gratefully accepted the French government's offer of citizenship, from 1939 onwards he made the USA his home, becoming an American citizen in 1946.
During the 1940s and 50s Walter's principal orchestra was the New York PO, for which he served as musical adviser (1947–9); he also conducted other major orchestras throughout the USA, including those in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. His programmes with the New York PO offered, in addition to the established symphonic repertory, uncut performances of the St Matthew Passion and new works by Barber, Moore and other American composers. His New York PO recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies (1941–53) show him at his most forceful and dynamic. A memorable Fidelio, with Flagstad and Kipnis, marked his début at the Metropolitan Opera (1941), where he conducted sporadically until 1959. After the war he returned to Europe on several occasions, participating in the early Edinburgh Festivals and taking particular pleasure in his collaborations with Kathleen Ferrier, who sang with Patzak on an acclaimed recording of Das Lied von der Erde under Walter. Although a heart attack in 1957 forced him to lighten his conducting schedule, Walter frequently recorded with the Columbia SO in his final years; these recordings offer gentler, broader readings of the standard repertory – notably the last six symphonies of Mozart and the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms – than those preserved on his earlier recordings.
A man of wide reading, Walter counted among his friends Thomas Mann and other prominent authors. After 1947 he developed a keen interest in the ideas of Rudolf Steiner. Celebrated as an outstanding conductor in an era of great conducting, Walter favoured the Austro-German repertory but by no means confined himself to it. While he championed the works of Mahler and actively sought new music for much of his life, he flatly rejected atonality and serialism, and confessed an aversion to jazz. Treating his players as colleagues, he drew a sensuous tone from the orchestra, employing rubato with consummate skill, juxtaposing fierce drama and warm lyricism. His sensitivity to contrapuntal texture and overall structure allowed him to bring out fine details without damaging a work's integrity. He sought to penetrate ‘to the core’ of a composition and, detesting ‘routine’ performances, continually endeavoured to present a piece ‘as if it were receiving its world première’.