BPO Music Director: 1954-1963
Born in Vienna on April 8, 1902, Krips' earliest musical studies began on the violin which he followed with formal training at the Vienna Academy. At the age of sixteen he was admitted to the ranks of the Vienna Volksoper as a violinist, a position he held until 1921 after which time he was appointed by Felix Weingartner as chorus master and répétiteur. The young maestro then accepted a position as head of the opera department for the theaters at Aussig an der Elbe, after which he moved on quickly to a similar post at Dortmund in 1925 and then music director at Karlsruhe from 1926 through 1933.
In 1933 Krips became a resident conductor at the Vienna Staatsoper and a professor at the Vienna Academy in 1935 but lost both positions after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. Krips moved on to a one-year appointment at the Belgrade Opera and Philharmonic before the onset of World War II during which time his musical activities were entirely suspended.
With the imminent end to the war Krips at once began to play a leading part in reorganizing postwar musical life in Vienna where he directed the renewed performances by the Vienna Staatsoper at the Volksoper and the Theater an der Wien as well as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Musikverein.
In 1946 Krips was honored by the distinction to reopen the Salzburg Festival with a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni, a venue to which he returned many times in subsequent years. He also took the Vienna Staatsoper and the Vienna Philharmonic on a tour of several European countries including Great Britain. His success there led to his appointment as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, a post he held from 1950 through 1954.
With such impeccable credentials it followed naturally that Krips would be welcome at the helm of American orchestras. His appointment as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic was met with considerable international notice, in part a testimony to the artistic advancement made by the BPO under the baton of Krips' predecessor, William Steinberg.
Under Krips the Buffalo Philharmonic witnessed a major expansion in the length of its season and in the number of musicians employed. The Orchestra also committed itself to various tours in the eastern United States and Canada, including the Maritime Provinces. Although the BPO made no commercial recordings during Krips' tenure, the dark, European tone of the orchestra matured in bottle like a fine vintage wine. The sound was mellow and sophisticated, with a nuance of tempo and robust phrasing which marked the great orchestras of the 'old world' European tradition.
Krips remained on the podium at Kleinhans until the end of the 1962-63 season, after which he accepted the post of Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, where he remained through 1970.
With regard to opera, Krips made his d‚but at London's Covent Garden with a performance of Don Giovanni in 1963; from 1966 he became a guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and from 1970 he appeared regularly at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin.
During the last two decades of his career Krips made frequent tours with many of the leading orchestras in Europe and North America. He also made many recordings which testified to his reputation as a benevolent despot in performance, whose unaffected interpretations and warmth of expressive feeling served as an ideal model for the Viennese manner in classical music. A variety of Krips' distinguished recordings have been reissued on CD, including Mozart's complete Don Giovanni and Abduction from the Seraglio, all nine Beethoven symphonies with the London Philharmonic, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Vienna Philharmonic, among many others.