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Kurt Wöss studied musicology at the Vienna Academy with Robert Haas, Egon Wellesz, Alfred Orel and Robert Lach, and was also a private pupil of the conductor Felix Weingartner. He made his conducting debut in 1936, and between 1938 and 1948 he taught at the Vienna Academy. His professional conducting career took off with his appointment as chief conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra, which he led from 1949 to 1951. During this period both he and this orchestra made many recordings for the American label Remington, which through keen pricing and novel distribution achieved high sales in the USA, so giving Wöss’s name considerable prominence. Between 1951 and 1954 Wöss served as chief conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, the principal broadcasting orchestra of Japan, after which he moved to Australia as conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 1960; while in Australia he also appeared with the Australian Opera Company. He returned to Austria to take up the position of chief conductor of the Linz Opera in 1961, and was named chief conductor of the Linz Bruckner Orchestra in 1968, serving in this post until 1975. He retained his links with Japan as musical director of the Fumiwara Opera and as chief conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra (1974). In addition Wöss conducted as a guest in England (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), Germany, and Sweden as well as in his native Austria. He died while rehearsing one of the Bruckner symphonies with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.

Wöss was a conductor with a fine sense of style in both lighter music, especially that of Vienna, and of the traditional concert repertoire. A noted interpreter of the music of Bruckner, he conducted the first performances of the original (1874) version of the Symphony No. 4 in 1975, and of Gottfried von Einem’s homage to this composer, Bruckner Dialog, during the previous year, and wrote a study of the performance of the Bruckner symphonies. His recording career never regained the momentum initially afforded it through his association with the Remington label, for which he recorded a wide range of repertoire from Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, through to Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Richard Strauss. During the early days of stereophonic recording Wöss conducted the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in a concert of popular works by Bizet, Bruch, Glazunov, Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Weber for Telefunken, and in 1979 he recorded for the Slovakian label Opus a selection of operetta overtures by Kálmán, Lehár, Nedbal, Offenbach, Johann Strauss II and Suppé with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition the première, conducted by Wöss, of the first version of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 was issued as an LP by the Bruckner Haus, Linz.

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

Role: Conductor 
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