Leopold Damrosch

Leopold Damrosch (1832-1885)

German-American conductor and composer (b. 22 October 1832 at Posen (now Poznań); d. 15 February 1885 in New York).

Leopold Damrosch had been director of the Philharmonic Society at Breslau, but in 1871 he moved with his family to the United States, where in 1873 he set up the Oratorio Society and, in 1878, the New York Symphony Society. He was one of the earliest champions of Tchaikovsky's music in America, and, being also an accomplished violinist, he was responsible for the first performance of the Violin Concerto towards the end of 1879 (in the version for violin with piano), at what was apparently a private concert in New York. On 21 January 1880 [N.S.] he sent Tchaikovsky a letter, informing the composer that he had conducted two successful performances of his Suite No. 1, and that he was eager to have a copy of the score of the Fourth Symphony — if he received it in time he hoped to include the symphony in one of his orchestra's concerts that very season. (However, the full score of this work was not published until September 1880). In this letter Leopold Damrosch also congratulated Tchaikovsky on his "splendid Violin Concerto" and said that he hoped to see the orchestral parts for it very soon [1].

During his American tour in 1891 Tchaikovsky conducted two of his choral pieces at a concert in the Carnegie Hall on 26 April/8 May which also featured a performance of the oratorio Sulamith by the late Leopold Damrosch. In his diary entry for that day he described this work as "wonderful" [2].

In 1891 and 1893 Tchaikovsky also met Damrosch's son Walter (1862–1950), during visits to New York and London respectively.

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Notes and References

  1. This letter is included (in Russian translation) in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 89–90. No reply from Tchaikovsky to this letter seems to have survived.
  2. See Дневники П. И. Чайковского (1873-1891) (1993), p. 275.