Mengelberg's parents Friedrich Wilhelm Mengelberg and Helena Schrattenholz were of German birth and were in 1869, two years before his birth, pulled from Cologne to Utrecht, where they founded a studio for making church furniture and altar objects. Mengelberg was the fourth child and had 15 siblings. He studied piano and composition at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. His first appearance as a conductor was with the local Gürzenich Orchestra. In 1892 he was music director in Lucerne. In 1895 he was appointed as successor by Willem Kes, who then took a better than current position with the Scottish Orchestra, conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. From 1907 to 1920 he also participated in an activity as a conductor of the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra. Mengelberg was then in the United States operate by 1922. Till 1928 as music director of the New York Philharmonic and thus as a rival of Arturo Toscanini, who also conducted the orchestra since 1926 Mengelberg was on the point after, the orchestra began to split into a Toscanini and a Mengelberg - bearing due to fundamental differences with Toscanini. In addition, he was asked frequent program changes, for which Mengelberg - the extensively rehearsed and during rehearsals also a long discussion of the composer made - the rehearsals did not stop dimensioned to be sufficient.
In the Netherlands, Mengelberg, who made the Concertgebouw Orchestra into one of the most virtuosic orchestra in the world at that time was a national hero who was showered with honors. It made him 1898 Knight of the Order of Orange- Nassau, in 1902 the same officer, 1907 Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. He also received the 1907 silver and 1913, the Gold Medal of the Arts and Sciences in the House Order of Orange. In 1920, he was Commander, 1934 Grand Commander of the Order of Orange- Nassau. He also received in 1934 as an associate professor of musicology at the State University of Utrecht. Portraits of Mengelberg were created by the artist Pier Pander, Jan Toorop, Jan Kees van Dongen and Sluijters.
Beginning in July 1940 fell his star in the Netherlands, after an interview with the People's Observer was reprinted in De Telegraaf, just by another interview in August 1940 with the Telegraaf, which was interpreted as derogatory against the Dutch musical life, as well as through a series of photos which showed him in Berlin, including before a concert poster with the Berlin Philharmonic. Mengelberg cooperated during the occupation period from 1940 to 1945 with the Germans and gave concerts for Nazi leaders such as Arthur Seyss- Inquart, which earned him international criticism. Mengelberg justified its international activities with the comparison is that, just as the sun for all certificates, the music was there for all peoples. In the fall of 1940, he led the Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler. He also negotiated for Jews and Dutch citizens (Carl Flesch, the flautist Hubert Barwahser, Ernst Laqueur, the pianist Sara Bosmans - Benedict and many more ) with the German occupation authorities. As a result, indulged to Mengelberg's 70th birthday in 1941 an instruction to the German press, to celebrate the birthday with a certain aloofness, as Mengelberg [ has ] to " used throughout his life for Gustav Mahler, expressed in Munich disparaging remarks about Germany [ has ] and today (1941 ) 12 Jews working in his orchestra. "
Mengelberg was awarded in 1945 as part of the denazification a lifelong initially, after the appeal hearing in 1947 reduced to six years banned from performing in the Netherlands. His passport was confiscated, and they recognized him from his honors. Mengelberg did not understand these measures. He referred to the fact that all its activities have served only the best interests of the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 50 years in the profession and that he had mistakenly believed this was understood by the public. In 1946 he wrote to Ellie Bysterus Heemskerk ( a violinist in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra): ". , If I had done something, I 'd understand, but I 've never been involved in anything " In his exile in Zuort in Switzerland, he was awarded until 1949 nor the board of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, to the Council of the city of Amsterdam also underlined this. Mengelberg died two months before the end of the truncated appearance ban.
After Mengelberg's death Otto Klemperer conducted a memorial concert for him. Klemperer Mengelberg admired rather than a musical or a coach than as an orchestra conductor. A congratulatory telegram, which Mengelberg is said to have sent to Hitler, Klemperer described as a " stupidity".
Work and style
Mengelberg, who was under the influence of his composition and Dirigierlehrers Wüllner, was an enthusiastic supporter of Richard Strauss, whose A hero's life is dedicated to him. He preferred among composers not only Strauss and Beethoven. Also the work of Schoenberg, Pijper, Hindemith, Reger and Diepenbrock, he helped to recognition, in part by Dutch premieres.
He founded in 1899 annual performances of Bach's St. Matthew Passion on Palm Sunday and an annual Beethoven cycle and dedicated artists like Mahler and Strauss also numerous music festivals.
With Mahler, whose music he had met in 1903, he was a friend. He promoted him through the performance of his works in the Netherlands. A highlight was the Mahler Festival in Amsterdam on the 25th anniversary conductor Willem Mengelberg in 1920. Mengelberg had himself studied Mahler symphonies with the composer and the scores bar for bar provided with comments. Therefore Mengelberg's recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 4 is particularly related parties as to the intentions of the composer.
1960 published with the Mengelberg's recordings from 1939 to 1940, the first complete edition of Beethoven's symphonies. Mengelberg occurs therein as a conservative Musicians forth, snappy, but also (as in the 6th Symphony ) sensitive, yes, playful way to irony.
Overall Mengelberg took for a number of record companies about 90 works commercially, further, about 40 more for the Dutch broadcasting.