Mahler's Forgotten Conductor: Heinz Unger and His Search for Jewish Meaning, 1895–1965
Heinz Unger, born in Berlin, Germany, in 1895, was reared from a young age to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. However, after attending a 1915 Munich performance of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) conducted by Bruno Walter, Unger decided to devote the rest of his life to music and particularly to the dissemination of Gustav Mahler’s music.
This microhistory explores how the double strands of German and Jewish identity converged in Unger’s lifelong struggle to grasp who he was. Critical to this understanding was Mahler’s music – a music that Unger endowed with exceptional meaning and that was central to his Jewish identity. This book sets this exploration of Unger’s “performative ritual” within a biographical tale of a life lived travelling the world in search of a home, a search that took the conductor from his native Germany to the Soviet Union, England, Spain, and, finally, Canada.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 272 pages
- Illustrations: 24
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.9in x 9.3in
"This is a worthy tribute to a long-forgotten conductor and devoted Mahlerite, whose evangelistic zeal did much to promulgate the composer's music. This in-depth coverage of Unger's life fills a void and, hopefully, paves the way for some trawling of the archives and release of some of the artist's live performances."
"Hernan Tesler-Mabé’s book on the life and legacy of renowned international conductor Heinz Unger compellingly interweaves Unger’s dedication to the music of Gustav Mahler and his cultural heritage as a German Jew amid the turbulence of the twentieth century. It deftly reveals Unger’s embrace of and significant influence on the musical life of his adopted country of Canada."
Ira Robinson, Chair and Director of the Concordia Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, Concordia University
"With crisply written historical overviews and fascinating discussion, Mahler’s Forgotten Conductor is an immensely valuable text that will appeal to scholars of Jewish studies, emigration, and music history."
Karen Painter, School of Music, University of Minnesota
Author InformationHernan Tesler-Mabé is a part-time professor of History at the University of Ottawa, Vice President of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies, and a founding member of the University of Ottawa Holocaust Research Group.
Table of contents
1. A Thoroughly German Youth, Early Trips to the Soviet Union, and an Unfortunate Exile (1895–1933)
2. European Exodus: USSR, England, Spain, and the World (1933–1954)
3. Early Life in Canada and a Return to Germany (1937–1956)
4. A Jewish Renaissance: Life in Canada, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Mahler Centenary (1956–1961)
5. The Final Years and a Farewell to the World (1961–1965)
Appendix: Known Concerts and Performances by Heinz Unger
PrizesCanadian Jewish Literary Awards - Biography - Winner in 2020
Subjects and Courses