Today 60 years ago – on 19 March 1954 – Walter Braunfels passed away.
His opera Die Vögel (The Birds), which was premièred on 30 November 1920 by Bruno Walter in Munich’s National Theatre, was a sensational success and proved to be his musical breakthrough. The opera was the most successful world première of the National Theatre of Munich in the 20th century: 50 performances followed 1921 and 1922.
The composer described the opera as “a lyrical, fantastical game”, for Bruno Walter it was “one of the most interesting new works” of his time in Munich, and the critic Alfred Einstein, who compared the opera with Wagner’s Meistersinger [The Mastersingers] and Pfitzner’s Palestrina, saw it as “a work of yearning for the pure realm of fantasy, art, poetry, and at once a fulfilment of this yearning, a leap into a world beyond time and bias.”
Other works such as Phantastische Erscheinungen eines Themas von Hector Berlioz (Fantastic Appearances of a Theme by Hector Berlioz), Te Deum, Don Gil von den Grünen Hosen (Don Gil of the Green Trousers), the Grosse Messe(Grand Mass) and Don Juan were performed by renowned conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer and Max von Schillings and soon became part of the repertoire of almost all German theatres and concert halls, making him one of the most widely performed opera composers of 1920’s Germany.
Read more about Walter Braunfels and listen to excerpts of his music on his dedicated page.