SELMAR MEYROWITZ

1875-1941

A giant footnote in the history of conducting, Selmar Meyrowitz was a protégé of the revered Felix Mottl (who died conducting Tristan at Munich), was a busy “first conductor” type at the Prague National Theater and in the operatically swinging Berlin of Weimar Republic days, fled to Paris in ’33 and made several exciting recordings upon which a number of us grew up, then moved on again, dying in Toulouse (not suicide, one hopes) in 1941. Exhibit A would be Meyrowitz’s account of Liszt’s Faust Symphony, full of a vibrance and breadth indicating an untapped Brahmsian. But no less fine is his Les Préludes, a luminous and intense performance in which the crispness of the snare drums and cymbals on the last of four “78” sides is positively dazzling. Mengelberg and Monteux those dandy aficionados of percussion department daring could do no better. And speaking of matters Lisztian, faithful readers should look up the recordings of the short-lived Ataulfo Argenta who joins Guido Cantelli, Ferenc Fricsay and Istvan Kertesz in getting a raw deal from the longevity fairy. As for Liszt, if he’d been born seventy-five years later he would have worked at Paramount, rented in Santa Monica, dined at Chasen’s, hobnobbed with Schoenberg and Stravinsky and Marilyn Monroe.