RETURNWalter Pfeffer

Walter Pfeffer

He was born in Vienna, Austria on 10/08/1897 from parents of Jewish descent. He began studying violin and piano at an early age. He studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and the Performing Arts (now the University of Music and Performing Arts / Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst). He was a student of Felix Weingartner and personally knew the famous operetta composer Franz Lehár. He began his career as a conductor directing the Vienna Volksoper and the renowned Vienna Doctors’ Orchestra. He continued at the Munich Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz (1929-1930), in Hanover (1930-1931) and at the Berlin New Theater Nollendorfplatz. When Hitler rose to power, he was laid off because of his ethnicity. Upon his return to the Vienna Volksoper in 1935, he participated in a tour of Greece where he met Kostis Bastias. At the same time, he was the principal conductor at the Vienna Municipal Theatre (1933-1938). When Nazi Germany annexed Austria (the so-called “Anschluss”) he fled to Belgium. In 1939 Bastias invited him to join the founding members of the Greek National Opera in Athens. With his excellent knowledge of Viennese operetta, he gradually introduced the works of Johann Strauss II, Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Franz von Suppé, Carl Millöcker and Carl Zeller in the repertoire of the newly-established opera. Between 1939 and 1968 he conducted four operas, five ballets and 26 operettas, most of which were performed for the first time in Greece, in nearly 100 new productions and/or revivals: The Bat [Die Fledermaus], The Gypsy Baron [Der Zigeunerbaron], The House of Three Girls [Das Dreimädelhaus], Countess Mariza [Gräfin Mariza], The Merry Widow [Die lustige Witwe], Martha, The Godson [O Vaftistikos] (1946), The Tartuffes [Oi tartuffoi] (1949), The Streetwalker [H Ginaika Tou Dromou] (1950). He also directed the operas Madama Butterfly, The Abduction From the Seraglio [Die Entführung aus dem Serail] and The Bartered Bride [Prodaná nevěsta] in their first presentations by the GNO. In 1947 he married the dancer and choreographer Eleni Tsoukala. He died in Athens in 1970.