07-05-07

Dimitris Mitropoulos

 

Dimitris Mitropoulos


Conductor

Dimitris Mitropoulos (March 1, 1896 – November 2, 1960) was a Greek conductor, pianist, and composer who spent most of his career in the United States.

Mitropoulos was born in Athens and studied music there and in Brussels and Berlin, with Ferruccio Busoni among his teachers. From 1921 to 1925 he assisted Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera, then took a number of posts in Greece.

At a 1930 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, he played the solo part of a piano concerto and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard, becoming one of the first modern musicians to do so.

Mitropoulos made his U.S. debut in 1936 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and in subsequent years he settled in the country, becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1946. From 1937 to 1949, he served as the principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, after which he worked with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

He became the Philharmonic's principal conductor in 1951 and left in 1957 to be replaced by Leonard Bernstein. He introduced many works by Gustav Mahler, including his 6th Symphony.

He died in Milan, Italy at the age of 64, while rehearsing Gustav Mahler's 3rd Symphony.

Mitropoulos was noted as a champion of modern music, such as that by the members of the Second Viennese School. He wrote a number of pieces for orchestra and solo works for piano, and also arranged some of Johann Sebastian Bach's organ works for orchestra.

In addition he was very influencial in encouraging Leonard Bernstein's interest in conducting performances of Mahler's symphonic works. He also premiered and recorded a piano concerto of Ernst Krenek as soloist (available on CD), and works by composers in the U.S. such as Roger Sessions and Peter Mennin.

His compositions include a piano sonata and other works.


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