BRUNO SEIDLER-WINKLER

1880-1960

Any avid young Wagnerian growing up in the later days of the “78” record knew that Victor album 582 was the second act of Walkuere recorded, according to the vagaries of the time, seesaw fashion, that is partly in Berlin, partly in Vienna. Lotte Lehmann of course, who was in the Vienna cast, was not about to appear in Berlin: this was post-1933. At all events, while the Vienna singers were conducted by the well-known Bruno Walter, the Berliners were under the care of a second Bruno, much less famous, with the last name of – excuse the irreverence but it suggests to me the sound of breaking glass –  Seidler-Winkler. There are always many excellent conductors who, for lack of opportunities, ambition, chutzpah, don’t make it into the so-called Big Time, and I feel it my duty to report that Herr Seidler-Winkler’s way with Walkuere is so smooth, mellow and effective his conducting could be mistaken for that of a Fritz Reiner or Rudolf Kempe. In point of fact some of Seidler-Winkler’s infrequency on the podium had to do with his being a recording executive and a much in demand piano accompanist.

I know of one other Seidler-Winkler recording, an acoustic Beethoven Ninth released in the U.S. on a formidable stack of mud-brown Vocalian discs, not top of the line for sure, but this is a performance a dear collector friend of mine would almost commit a felony to possess. Except for an undoubted surfeit of portamento early in the slow movement it’s a distinguished Ninth, mud and all, springy in the first two movements and with a generosity of lyric phrasing in the finale. Berlin Baccarat that doesn’t shatter, I should say.