Obituary: conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89

Posted on: February 25, 2013

In Monday’s (2/25) Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin and David Patrick Stearns write, “Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89, the German maestro who defied expectations by taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 70 and remaking it into perhaps the most assured blend of orchestral polish and power in the United States, died Friday evening at home in Grassau outside Munich, according to a statement from the Bavarian State Opera. He had been stricken in recent years by a number of diseases and conditions. Mr. Sawallisch, only the orchestra’s sixth music director in a century, succeeded the dashing, controversial Riccardo Muti in 1993. He reshaped the ensemble with more personnel changes than anyone since Leopold Stokowski, reestablished the ‘Fabulous Philadelphians’ as one of the authoritative oracles of the Austro-German repertoire, and eased the orchestra into its long-desired new concert hall. … Mr. Sawallisch’s ultimate arrival in the elite circle of international conductors coincided with his tenure at the Bavarian State Opera, where he was music director from 1971 to 1993. … During that period, Mr. Sawallisch maintained a symphonic career as artistic director of Geneva’s Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1973 to 1980 and began appearing regularly with Tokyo’s NHK Orchestra (which made him conductor laureate), the Vienna Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de Paris, the Israel Philharmonic, the Philharmonia of London, and the Czech Philharmonic.”

Posted February 25, 2013