Theo Buchwald

Vienna, 1902-1960, Lima

Buchwald trained as a concert pianist with Prof. Richard Robert, the teacher of Hans Gál, George Szell, Rudolf Serkin and Clara Haskil. A wrist injury prevented his dreams of becoming a soloist and he turned his interests to conducting. His early professional years were spent in the Berlin State Opera as rehearsal pianist and conductor before being offered the position of music director in Halberstadt in 1930. Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor in 1933 made it impossible for him to remain in Germany and he returned to Vienna where employment prospects were non-existent. In 1935 and on the advice of a relative, he moved to Santiago de Chile. He was soon able to find work, conducting the summer concert series of Viña del Mar. In 1937, he left Chile in order to set up the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional of Peru. Buchwald was able to profit by the arrival of many refugee musicians. The orchestra’s first performance took place in December 1938. Buchwald remained principal conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional of Peru until his death in 1960. His estate contains correspondence with fellow conductors Erich Kleiber and Fritz Busch, who were also musical refugees living in South America.