1897 - 1995
Julius Bürger began studying with Franz Schreker in 1919 at Vienna’s music academy (today, mdw University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, following his teacher to Berlin in 1920. On Bruno Walter’s recommendation, Bürger 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, later also working as a conductor for the radio. When Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Julius Bürger was, as a Jew, forced to resign from this position and returned to Vienna. He still continued to arrange and conduct, notably for the BBC. En route to Vienna from London in 1938, Bürger and his wife Rosa (neè Blaustern) foresaw what lay in store for Austria and detrained in Paris, abandoning their luggage. In 1939, they were finally able to immigrate to America. Bürger’s mother was shot in transit to Auschwitz, and five of his brothers were murdered in the concentration camp.
In 1949 Bürger joined 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 Indiana State University in 1984 with a work he had composed thirty-nine years earlier: Variations on a Theme by C. Ph. E. Bach. Bürger died in 1995 in New York City aged 98. Julius Bürger’s musical estate was entrusted to the Exilarte Center at the mdw — University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna — in 2016 by attorney Ronald S. Pohl, Esq., whose continued efforts are supporting the promotion of Bürger’s music around the globe.