Vienna, 1897 – 1995, New York
Burger began studying with Schreker at the mdw in 1919, following his teacher to Berlin in 1920. On Bruno Walter’s recommendation, Burger joined Artur Bodanzky as assistant at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1929, he became Otto Klemperer’s assistant at Berlin’s Kroll Opera, returning to Vienna after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933. He still continued to arrange and conduct, notably for the BBC. En route to Vienna from London in 1938, Burger and his wife foresaw what lay in store for Austria and detrained in Paris, abandoning their luggage. In 1939, Burger relocated to America, and in 1949 he rejoined the staff at the Metropolitan Opera, starting a close working friendship with Dimitri Mitropoulos. Though having largely abandoned composition, he won a composition prize from the University of Indiana in 1984 with a work he had composed thirty-nine years earlier: Variations on a Theme by C. Ph. E. Bach. His mother was shot in transit to Auschwitz, and five of his brothers were murdered in the concentration camp.