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Walther Reinhart (Conductor, Musicologist)

Born: May 24, 1886 - Winterthur, Switzerland.
Died: 1975

The Swiss conductor and musicologist, Walther [or Walter] Reinhart, entered Frankfurt's Hoch Conservatoire, concentrating his studies on the violin. After three years at Frankfurt, he continued his studies at the Royal Prussian University of Berlin, now the Philipps-University of Marburg. Here Reinhart studied composition and orchestration under Max Bruch and choral singing under the choral conductor Siegfried Ochs (Siegfried Ochs founded the Berlin Philharmonic Choir and was a founding member of the Neue Bach-Gesellschaft.)

In 1911, upon completion of his studies Walther Reinhart was appointed conductor of the Philharmonic Concert Hall Goerlitz. Reinhart continued his musical studies with Max Bruch in Meiningen in 1913. From 1914 to 1918 Reinhart conducted the choir of the singing teachers association in Frankfurt, making guest performances in Munich and Stuttgart.

During the World War I, Walther Reinhart returned to Switzerland and formed the Reinhart Choir, which was based in Zürich. He also became director of Winterthur’s Mixed Choir, which often joined forces with Winterthur’s city orchestra to perform subscription concerts in Zürich and Winterthur. The Reinhart Choir also undertook several concert commitments in Germany and Italy and performed regularly at the Internationale Bach-Gesellschaft.

Walther Reinhart wrote a book and articles on J.S. Bach, which include “Die Aufführung der Johannes-Passion von J. S. Bach und deren Probleme”. First published in Leipzig by Carl Merseburger in 1933, it was re-published in Zürich by Hug in 1956. In her autobiography, “Nehmt meinen Dank” the great Hungarian/Swiss soprano Maria Stader says of Reinhart that his was a different interpretation of Bach and that despite the controversies that his renditions kindled he was “iron willed” in his approach. Maria Stader says of the Reinhart Choir that it sang accurately and with purity but that its Bach interpretations contained “certain mannerisms” resulting from Reinhart’s characteristic phrasing and accentuation.

Walther Reinhart’s commercial recordings are very rare. One of his few commercial recordings is of Bach’s Magnificat in D (BWV 243) made in the early 1950’s for The Musical Masterpiece Society. Participating artists were Maria Stader, Elsa Cavelti, Ernst Haefliger and Hermann Schey, with the Winterther Mixed Choir, the Reinhart Choir, Zürich and the Winterthur State Orchestra.


Source: Zentralbibliothek Zürich: Musikabteilung; Internationale Bach-Gesellschaft (IBG); Bach Bibliography; Maria Stader, “Nehmt meinen Dank”, Kindler, 1979 (p. 245)
Contributed by
Eric Spicer (January 2002)

Walter Reinhart: Short Biography | Winterthur Mixed Chorus & Orchestra | Recordings of Vocal Works

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