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Eugen Jochum

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Eugen Jochum (November 1, 1902 – March 26, 1987) was an eminent German conductor.

Born in Babenhausen, near Augsburg, Germany, Jochum studied the piano and organ in Augsburg until 1922. He then studied conducting in Munich. His first post was as a rehearsal pianist at Mönchen-Gladbach, and then in Kiel.

He made his conducting debut with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in 1926 in a program which included Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. In the same year he was appointed conductor at Kiel, where he conducted seventeen operas in his first season, including The Flying Dutchman, Der Rosenkavalier and Turandot.

After Kiel he went to Mannheim, where Wilhelm Furtwängler praised his conducting. He turned down an offer to conduct twelve concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, believing that his repertory and experience were not yet equal to it. (He did not appear in America until 1958.) His next appointment was as music director in Duisburg, from 1930 to 1932. In 1932 he became chief of the Berlin Radio Orchestra, also conducting 16 concerts a season with the Berlin Philharmonic, and at the Deutsche Oper.

In 1934 Jochum succeeded Karl Böhm as musical director of the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg Philharmonic. Throughout the Nazi era, Hamburg remained, as Jochum put it, ‘reasonably liberal’, so that he was able to keep his post despite refusing to join the party. He performed music by composers such as Hindemith and Bartók elsewhere banned by the Nazis. He served at Hamburg until 1949. After World War II, Jochum became the first chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949.

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