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Friedrich Wührer (born June 29, 1900, in Vienna; died December 27, 1975, in Mannheim) was an Austrian-Germanpianist and piano pedagogue. He was a close associate and advocate of composer Franz Schmidt, whose music he edited and, in the case of the works for left hand alone, revised for performance with two hands; he was also a champion of the Second Viennese School and other composers of the early 20th century. His recorded legacy, however, centers on German romantic literature, particularly the music of Franz Schubert.
Wührer began piano study at age six with an Austrian teacher named Marius Szudelsky; after entering the Vienna Academy in 1915, Wührer continued studying piano with Franz Schmidt, along with taking courses in conducting under Ferdinand Löwe and music theory under Joseph Marx. His performing career began in the early 1920s, and he toured Europe and the United States in 1923.
Wührer was a founder of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Vienna. He formed friendships with composers Hans Pfitzner and Max Reger, and became associated with Arnold Schoenberg and his circle, participating in performances of Schoenberg's setting of 15 poems from Das Buch der hängenden Gärten, Op. 15; his Pierrot Lunaire as part of a touring company presenting the work in Spain; and Webern's Pieces for Cello and Piano, op. 11. Wührer also performed music by Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, and Paul Hindemith. On July 3, 1930, he performed Schoenberg student Paul Pisk's Suite for Piano in the first broadcast of that composer's music by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Wührer made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1938. In 1939, as Paul Wittgenstein, who commissioned the work, had fled Austria, Wührer performed in the premiere of Schmidt's Quintet for piano, violin, clarinet, viola, and cello in A major, albeit in his own arrangement for two hands rather than, as originally written for piano, left hand alone. Thereafter, Wührer performed all the Schmidt left hand compositions in his own two-hand arrangements. He and Wittgenstein viewed each other with animosity; Wittgenstein accused Wührer of being an enthusiastic Nazi who later tried to cover it up, and Wührer disparaged Wittgenstein's personality and pianism. Whether for this or some other reason, the recital programmes did not, as Wührer had promised Wittgenstein, make any note of the latter's exclusive rights to the works, and as a descendant of Jews, Wittgenstein had no recourse in Nazi-governed countries.
Wührer continued his advocacy for modern works at least into middle age. For instance, he gave the premiere of Pfitzner's Sechs Studien für das Pianoforte, Op. 51, of which he was the dedicatee, shortly after its composition in 1943 and in the 1950s, he performed Kurt Hessenberg's Piano Concerto, Op. 21 (1939). Nonetheless, notwithstanding his pioneering work for music of the Second Viennese School and other moderns of his day, Wührer's principal focus as a performer, his posthumous reputation, and his recorded legacy came to rest on performances of music from the romantic era, particularly works in the German and Austrian traditions.
Among Wührer's editorial activities, he wrote Masterpieces of Piano Music (Wilhelmshaven, 1966); compiled a collection of works by old masters; and prepared editions of the ChopinEtudes, polonaises by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and the piano music of Franz Schmidt. Claiming to be respecting the composer's own wishes, he created two-hand redistributions of the left-hand works that Schmidt had written for Paul Wittgenstein, although Wittgenstein evidently voiced strong objections. Besides editing the Etudes, Wührer wrote 18 Studies on Chopin Etudes in Contrary Motion (1958) as a pedagogical work for equalising the facility of both hands. Wührer also composed and published cadenzas for Mozart's piano concerti in C major, K. 467; C minor, K. 491; and D major, K. 537.
Wührer made numerous commercial phonograph records. While his discography includes 78 rpm records, such releases are outnumbered by his output during the early LP era, which was mostly for the American Vox label. Among his LP recordings was the first nominally complete cycle of Schubert's piano sonatas. It omitted a few fragmentary works, but it offered Ernst Krenek's completion of the C major sonata, D. 840 (Reliquie), possibly otherwise represented on records only by Ray Lev's Concert Hall Society account of similar vintage. In recent years, some of Wührer's LP recordings have emerged on compact disc. Vox bypassed his Schubert sonata cycle in favor of one recorded a few years later in stereo by Walter Klien, but a third party, Bearac Reissues, appears to have issued compact disc editions of the set copied from LPs. Downloads of the Schubert recordings in .mp3 format are also available through Amazon.com.
The following lists contain the bulk of Wührer's recordings. Unless specified otherwise, all 78 RPM discs were 10" discs, and all LPs were monaural 12" discs. The Vox Boxes were all three-record sets. CD issues mostly derive from radio broadcasts; CD releases of material originally appearing on analogue discs are noted in the sections for their original formats, with the CD section listing only recordings not released in other formats.
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. With Stuttgart Pro Musica Orchestra under Walther Davisson. Vox PL 9570; reissued as Vox STPL 513.060, fake stereo. Also Orbis CX 20320, 10", and on CD in Tahra TAH 704-707
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58. (1) With Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Jonel Perlea. Vox PL 10,640. Reissued by Pristine Classical in downloadable MP3 and FLAC format as PASC139, dubbed from an LP copy; Pristine gives the recording dates as September 12-13, 1957 and the release date as 1958. Also on CD in Tahra TAH 704-707 (2) With Austrian Symphony Orchestra under Karl Randolf. Remington R-199-72 (3) With Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Hans Swarowsky. Club National du Disque 1801
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. With Vienna State Philharmonia under Hans Swarowsky. Vox PL 8000; also Vox GBY 12 180. An excerpt from this recording's first movement saw CD release on a Vox disc entitled The Best of Brahms.