Selmar Meyrowitz was a student at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he was a pupil of Reinecke and Jadassohn, and then spent three years studying with Max Bruch in Berlin, where he was noticed by Felix Mottl. Mottl took him on as his assistant at the Karlsruhe Opera in 1897, and later, when he went to the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1900, Meyrowitz went with him. While in America Meyrowitz accompanied Johanna Gadski on tour, and following his return to Europe in 1905 he held conducting posts in several of the leading opera houses of the continent: the Prague National Theatre (1905–1906), the Berlin Komische Oper (1907–1910), the Munich Court Opera (1912–1914), and the Hamburg State Opera (1914–1918). Subsequently based in Berlin, he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra between 1918 and 1923 and the Blüthner Orchestra in 1920; he also conducted at Berlin Radio, as well as further afield in Hamburg, Vienna and Rome. From 1924 to 1933 he was a conductor at the Berlin State Opera, alongside Erich Kleiber and George Szell, and returned to the USA as the conductor of the German Grand Opera Company, which toured America between 1929 and 1931. Following the rise to power of Hitler’s National Socialist government in Germany in 1933, Meyrowitz moved to Paris where he remained for the rest of his life. Here among much else he conducted the first French production of Kurt Weill’s Die Dreigroschen Oper in 1937.
An active recording artist in both Germany and France, Meyrowitz recorded many short works, typical of the period, with the Berlin State Opera and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras: for example the overtures to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. In addition he directed the accompaniment to numerous operatic recordings by singers of the day such as Joseph Schmidt, Helge Roswaenge, Anni Frind and Luise Willer. Among the most significant of his Berlin recordings were those of the fourth movement, Urlicht, from Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’, and one of the Rückert songs, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, with Sarah Charles-Cahier. The daughter of an American general, Charles-Cahier was engaged by Mahler to sing at the Vienna Court Opera in 1906; she sang in the first performance of Das Lied von der Erde under Bruno Walter in Munich in 1911, and at the 1920 Mahler Festival in Amsterdam organised by Willem Mengelberg. Meyrowitz’s recordings made in Paris included, as well as such usual short works as the overture to Weber’s Oberon, larger-scale repertoire: for instance the first recording of Liszt’s Faust Symphony, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’, and Liszt’s Les Préludes, Hungarian Fantasy, Totentanz, and orchestral arrangement of Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy, the last three with the pianist Edward Kilenyi.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).