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F. Charles Adler’s mother was a pupil of Liszt, and his father a banker. From the former he inherited a love of music and from the latter a strong entrepreneurial streak. His father initially wanted Adler to enter commerce, but he resisted this idea, and secured tuition from the Royal Academy of Music in Munich, where he was taught by Felix Mottl; he was also a private pupil of Mahler in Vienna between 1908 and 1911. Adler was sent by his father to South America to further his commercial career but instead he secured a post with the State Opera in Mexico City. Subsequently he was active internationally as a conductor of opera, touring extensively with artists such as Caruso, as well as holding permanent appointments at the opera houses of Düsseldorf and Ljubljana, and working as an assistant at the Bayreuth Festival. Undoubtedly a high point in his early career was when he acted as chorusmaster at the first performance of the Symphony No. 8 of Mahler, conducted by the composer in Munich in 1910, an event of major importance. In 1913 he substituted for Ferdinand Löwe at the Queen’s Hall in London, conducting Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner.

After World War I, during which he was interned, Adler was extremely active, conducting regularly in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, as well as touring extensively and working in the then-new medium of radio. Between 1924 and 1931 he was head of serious music broadcasting for German State Radio, based in Berlin. He created a publishing company, Adler Berlin, notable for its promotion of contemporary American composers. In 1933 he left Germany for New York, where he gradually re-established his career, principally through music publishing. With the advent of the long-playing record after World War II, Adler and his wife co-founded with Norman Fox the SPA record label that became known for its pioneering catalogue. After SPA stopped producing new recordings, in 1954, Adler went on to record for another short-lived label, Unicorn Records of Boston, as well as for other labels such as CRI, Vanguard and Vox. Once again the repertoire with which he was associated was highly eclectic. SPA published many first recordings, including the Piano Concerto of Artur Schnabel and the Symphony No. 2 of Charles Ives. Also of note were Adler’s recordings of the Symphonies Nos 1, 3 and 9 of Bruckner. Among the most distinguished recordings on this label were Adler’s readings of the Symphonies Nos 3 and 6 by his mentor Mahler. The Symphony No. 3 in particular achieved a grandeur that has eluded many subsequent recordings. Adler was a significant musical pioneer, if not a conductor of the first rank.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).

Role: Conductor 
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