Seidl, Anton



Eminent conductor, who was trained by Richard Wagner, and favored by him above all other conductors as an interpreter of his works. Although Seidl was a Hungarian by birth, having been born in Budapest, and a German by education, he became an American citizen, believing this country the best in which to work out his ideals, and became closely identified with its musical life. Seidl's musical education was begun in Leipsic, where he was a pupil at the Conservatory from 1870 to 1872. He was then chosen by Hans Richter, whose favorite pupil he had been, for the post of chorusmaster at the Vienna Opera. Richter recommended him to Richard Wagner to take the work of preparing the scores and parts of the Nibelung Trilogy for production at Bayreuth. He was only twenty-one at the time, and worked for five years with the great master at Bayreuth, being a member of his household and closely associated with him. He was for three years chapelmaster at the Leipsic City Theatre and stage manager at the Vienna Opera House, and next was engaged as conductor for the great Wagnerian opera company which toured Europe. He produced The Ring music dramas at the Victoria Theatre in Berlin under Wagner's supervision in 1881; conducted performances of them in London, and for two years superintended the productions of various Wagnerian operas in various parts of Europe. In 1885 at Bremen, where he was conductor of the Bremen Opera, he met and married the singer, Augusta Krauss. In 1886 Seidl held the position of conductor at the Bayreuth Festival, bringing out with clearness and intellectuality the beauties of Wagner's works. That year he began his American career as a conductor, being engaged by Walter Damrosch and E. C. Stanton to conduct the German Opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Seidl came to the United States as an apostle of the new school, and he made clear all that had been obscure and doubtful in Wagner's operas. He was a most sincere and enthusiastic conductor, and quickly brought the orchestra under him into repute.


In 1895 he became conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York, one of the oldest and best trained musical organizations in the country. As conductor of the Philharmonic, Seidl proved to be an efficient drillmaster, interpreting the works given under him with sympathy and understanding, and during the six seasons he was connected with this orchestra he made many tours with his musicians. He occupied a position of great importance in New York, and he was constantly adding to his skill and reputation as an interpreter of the best modern German music as well as the music of the classical school. In 1892 he became director and conductor of the Sunday night concerts in New York. In 1897 he conducted the operatic performances at Covent Garden, London, and created a furore in New York when he conducted a performance of Parsifal. Many and tempting were the offers that came to him from numerous European cities, Hamburg, the Royal Opera at Berlin and London all making him generous offers to assume charge of the music. But he loved America and Americans and remained loyal to the country of his adoption. His friends had begun a movement to found and endow a permanent symphonic and operatic orchestra in New York City, to be under Seidl's direction, when their plans were frustrated by his sudden death in 1898. The sudden taking away of the scholarly and beloved leader was a severe loss to American music. Seidl had done much to cultivate a high musical taste and knowledge in this country, and his services to the cause of American music cannot be too highly praised.