Anton Paulik studied music in Budapest and Vienna, and it was upon the latter city that his professional career as a conductor was firmly centred. Between 1921 and 1938 he was active at the Theater an der Wien and at the Vienna State Opera, where he conducted repertory performances; and from 1938 onwards he was based at the Vienna Volksoper, where he headed the section devoted to the performance of the classical operetta repertoire, remaining active at the Volksoper right up to the end of his life. He did however appear in England in 1974, when he conducted Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus for the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. Married to the Viennese operetta star Esther Réthy, Paulik received many honours for his work, including the Golden Badge of Honour for Services to Austria in 1958, and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and the Arts in 1971.
One of the numerous Viennese conductors who were recorded by American record companies active in Vienna after World War II (attracted by the combination of high musical standards and a very favourable currency exchange rate), Paulik made most of his recordings for the Vanguard label which began to record in Vienna from late 1950 onwards. For Vanguard he conducted a series of long-playing records that featured the music of the Strauss family as well as a very wide range of other composers of the waltz, such as Fetrás, Ivanovici, Lanner, Nedbal, Rosas, Eduard Strauss, Waldteufel and Ziehrer, recordings which did much to extend popular awareness of the wealth of material enshrined in the Viennese waltz tradition. Paulik also made two complete operetta recordings for Vanguard, of Johann Strauss’s Der Zigeunerbaron and Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent: both performances are highly idiomatic.
In addition to his work for Vanguard, Paulik conducted for many other labels. His 1951 Bregenz Festival account of Strauss’s Eine Nacht in Venedig (the cast of which included his wife) and a recording of Suppé’s one-act operetta Die schöne Galatee were both published on the Saga label in the United Kingdom, while Decca issued a recording of extracts from Kálmán’s Gräfin Mariza. Other recordings of operetta extracts conducted by Paulik that have appeared include Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe, Strauss’s Wiener Blut (the soundtrack of a television production) and Suppé’s Boccaccio. In all of these recordings Paulik adopted a straightforward approach to performance that avoided both sentimental excess and inappropriate re-orchestration, whilst retaining the high spirits of the original works. For Vanguard he also conducted the accompaniment to a popular series of recordings of the Viennese baritone Erich Kunz singing German university songs.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).