Chronik des Leipziger Rundfunkchores Die Jahre 1943-1945
Michael Schneider choirmaster of the Bruckner Choir and organist
The church musician, conductor, lecturer and musicologist Prof. Michael Schneider was choirmaster of the Bruckner Choir in Linz in 1944/45. He is therefore indirectly linked to the development of the Leipzig Radio Choir.
Schneider was born in Weimar on March 4, 1909, and studied the piano, organ and composition at the college of music there. At the Leipzig College of Music, an institute rooted in the traditions of sacred music, Schneider honed his skills under the tuition of Karl Straube (organ), Kurt Thomas (choral conducting) and Robert Teichmüller (piano). He subsequently worked as an organist and choir director at various Protestant churches in Weimar and Munich and taught at the colleges of music in these cities.
From 1936 until 1941 Schneider was head of the department of Protestant church music at the Cologne College of Music, taught as a professor of organ and directed the Cologne Bach Association. The doctorate he attained in Cologne in 1940 was centred on “early 19th century organ-playing technique in Germany, with reference to the organ schools of the time”.
Since Günther Ramin was unable to reconcile his role as choirmaster of the Bruckner Choir with his duties as Thomaskantor after the choir moved to the Austrian city of Linz in 1944, the broadcasting corporation was keen to persuade Michael Schneider to take on the job.
Schneider was considered one of the finest organists of his time and it was therefore hoped that he could be swayed to direct the Bruckner Choir and play the Bruckner Organ in St Florian Monastery near Linz.
The problem was that Prof. Schneider had been conscripted to serve in a flak unit in Berlin. However, Radio Director-General Glasmeier saw to it that Schneider was transferred to a flak unit in Linz.
In this way Schneider was able to work with the Bruckner Choir and play the Bruckner Organ in his free time.
Unlike the second choir director Johannes Rietz, the broadcasting corporation did not employ Schneider permanently as the new choirmaster but on a freelance basis.
Prof. Schneider was officially inducted as choirmaster of the Bruckner Choir on May 13, 1944.
Although his status as choirmaster did not last long due to the war, Prof. Schneider gave numerous concerts with the choir. Even after the ensemble was decommissioned, the choir members who remained in Linz and the surrounding area continued to sing under Schneider’s direction.
The records of the Bruckner Choir list a total of 13 concerts conducted by Prof. Schneider.
Choir members variously sang as soloists in Schneider’s organ concerts or in chamber concerts conducted by him. On January 13 and 14, 1945, recordings of folk songs, performed by the Bruckner Choir under Prof. Schneider’s direction, were made in Linz. These reels have not survived.
After the war ended, Michael Schneider worked as a choir director at the Markuskirche in Munich, where he was appointed music director in 1949.
He soon resumed his teaching activities too and worked at the colleges of music in Munich, Detmold, Berlin and again in Cologne.
Prof. Michael Schneider once again played in Linz in 1978, during a three-day series of recitals on the Rudigier Organ in St Mary’s Cathedral.
Michael Schneider died in Cologne on November 26, 1994.
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