Kurt Roger life and biography

Kurt Roger picture, image, poster

Kurt Roger biography

Date of birth : 1895-05-03
Date of death : 1966-08-04
Birthplace : Vienna, Austria
Nationality : Austrian
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-06-21
Credited as : Musicologist, studied at Vienna University, Guido Adler

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Kurt Roger was born in Austria on 3 May 1895 to Viennese parents and studied at the Vienna University with Guido Adler, Karl Weigl, and in class with Arnold Schoenberg, although not following Schoenberg's 12-tone system. He received his Doctorate in 1918 and later taught at the Vienna Conservatoire from 1923 to 1938. During this time his works were receiving high-profile performances including the premiere of his String Quintet No.1 by the Rosé String Quartet and Otto Stieglitz. The Nazi Anschluss in 1938 forced Roger to emigrate to the United States via London. From 1939 he lived and taught in New York, becoming an American citizen in 1945 and moving to Washington DC in 1953. Whilst in Washington he lectured at several universities and his talks on music, notably on Mahler and Bruckner, were broadcast on the radio.

Besides many chamber recitals, Roger's music has received several notable orchestral performances including those by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Rafael Kubelik, the Rochester Philharmonic under Erich Leinsdorf, the New York Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington DC, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Northern Orchestra under Sir Charles Groves and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Jac van Steen.

From 1948 onwards Roger was invited back to Austria on lecture tours, whose venues included the Academy of Music in Vienna and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1964 he accepted a guest professorship at Queen's University Belfast, enabling the composer Professor Raymond Warren to have a sabbatical. As Roger's wife was born in Ulster, this proved to be a happy coda to his life. In 1965 the Austrian government conferred on him the Order of Merit first class in the field of art and science.

Roger died on 4th August 1966 whilst visiting Vienna. He was subsequently given a grave of honour there and a memorial address was given in Vienna by Doctor Wilhelm von Waldstein at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde.

In 1990 the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna established a Kurt Roger archive and has organised several performances of his music at the Musikverein.

Roger's works are both traditional and forward looking; reflecting an affinity with the composers he most revered and yet retaining a strong sense of originality. At a time when many composers were asserting their 'newness' above all else, Roger's was a compositional voice that remained true to his own aesthetic calling.

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