Walter Wurzburger   1914 — 1995

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dcch 2024

Personal reflections from Dan Hamm

Walter Wurzburger was a born teacher and communicator. I first met him in 1974 when at Kingston Poly, and played in the foundling Kingston Philharmonia. Work took me away, and I later met Walter at a party some years later. He reminded me that I had missed some 250 rehearsals, and it would be a pity to miss any more! He also said - and this was characteristic of the man - "We need you, ... and you need us". The second utterance was certainly true, and I have remained with the orchestra ever since. Later we exchanged family histories and, discovering their similarities, became firm friends.

Walter was not an obvious leader, but he did inspire great affection and loyalty. He was a patient and inspired teacher throughout all his activities. While others' idea of a Viennese evening might be Strauss, Strauss and Strauss, he brought together early Berg, Schoenberg with late Mahler - now that was an illuminating conjunction! Sometimes however his own clarity of vision did not fully accommodate the failings of other mortals. When I suggested that our rehearsals of Hindemith's "Mathis der Mahler" might be enriched by a better understanding of what the music was about, he exclaimed "Explain? Why, it is self-evident!".

In his later years, although he was no longer so active, he continued to read, to compose, to think, and to welcome friends to that magic basement in Worcester Park. After his death, Hannah discovered some notes he had taken, probably from a radio broadcast. He was not a great note-taker, but these few jottings seem to summarise the man and his works:

Walter’s life mirrors the maelstrom of the history of this century. He was born in Frankfurt in 1914 on 21st April; he died in Worcester park in 1995 on 21st March. He came from a musical family - his father was organist at a Frankfurt synagogue and a well respected teacher. He enlivened the musical life of three continents, and enriched the personal lives of his many friends; music is, after all, a highly social activity - at least the way that Walter practised it. If his life can be summarised, it is a series of enterprising and “self-driven” activities, punctuated by the refrain “played in band”!

"No false sentimentality. No compromise. Tough. No playing to the gallery."