Hermann Scherchen, Conductor
Born in 1891, Hermann Scherchen received violin lessons as a child and at the age of 16 he began his career as violist with ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic and soon after began to conduct. In 1912 Scherchen made his conducting debut at the world premiere of Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. This encounter with the music of Schönberg left an indelible impression, and influenced his specialization in music of the 20th century. In 1917 Hermann Scherchen witnessed the events of the October Revolution firsthand as a prisoner after he was incarcerated as an enemy of the state by the Russian authorities in 1914 while conducting in Riga. After his return in 1918, he took up the cause of contemporary music in earnest, founding the Melos magazine in Berlin, leading the Scherchen String Quartet, conducting two workers’ choruses, and teaching at the Berlin Music Conservatory. Starting in 1923 Scherchen was an active member of the Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (ignm). There he also met Karl Amadeus Hartmann, for whom he became a mentor. In the following years he conducted in Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main (conducting the Museumskonzerte from 1922–24 as Furtwängler’s successor), Winterthur and Königsberg. In 1933 he left Germany out of protest against the Nazi regime and founded orchestras whose work was devoted to contemporary music in Vienna and Brussels. After World War Two Scherchen became the Music Director of Radio Beromünster in Switzerland and Principal Conductor of Swiss Radio’s Studio Orchestra. At the same time he founded the “Ars viva” music publisher and ran a unesco-supported electrical-acoustic studio in Gravesano near Lugano devoted to theoretical and practical research on sound recording. There he combined New Music with new technology, making it accessible to electronic music. Starting in 1950 Scherchen became involved in the Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik. There the “patron of New Music” gave lectures and performed in concerts, demonstrating the development of New Music and its relation to Classical music. He juxtaposed Henze and Nono with Bach and Beethoven. He actively supported his pupils Luigi Nono and the young Hans Werner Henze, as well as other young composers. Like no other conductor, throughout his career Scherchen was committed to New Music and conducted many premieres, including first performances of works by Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Paul Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, Richard Strauss, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Edgar Varèse, Luigi Nono, Luigi Dallapiccola, Paul Dessau, Boris Blacher, Hans Werner Henze, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis. Hermann Scherchen’s final career post was as Principal Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany during the 1959/60 concert season. He died on June 12, 1966 in Florence, Italy. In addition to his numerous radio recordings and records, Elias Canetti dedicate an undying memorial to him in his memoirs The Play of the Eyes, memoirs 1931–1937.
Ludwig van Beethoven: The Five Piano Concertos
An 80th Birthday tribute
Historic Recording 1951–58,
was awarded the "Diapason d'Or"!
Paul Badura-Skoda, Piano - Hermann Scherchen, Conductor - Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper