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On June 13, 2001, the oldest member of the Vienna Philharmonic, Prof. Karl Rosner, passed away at the age of 96. Karl Rosner was born on Nov. 24, 1904 in Vösendorf (Lower Austria). He studied violin at the Vienna Academy of Music under Gottfried Feist, one of the most renowned teachers of his time, who also taught future Philharmonic members Günther Breitenbach, Eduard Larysz, Karl Stierhof and Gustav Swoboda. Rosner continued his studies in Budapest with the internationally famous virtuoso Jens Hubay (1858-1937), and received an engagement with the Vienna Symphony in 1932, with which he played for five years. After a successful audition, he joined the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic on Jan. 1, 1938. From 1947-1952 he was active with the administrative committee as Ticket Manager, but soon came to concentrate more on pedagogy. He taught violin at the Vienna Academy of Music from 1950-1968, where one of his students was our future first violinist Helmuth Puffler. In addition, Rosner was active as a successful composer, writing not only works for his own instrument, but also numerous fanfares, choral settings and marches for the Trumpet Choir. One of these, the "Fanfare in C Major" was performed for many years at the opening of the Vienna Opera Ball. Rosner, who had received the title of Professor in 1956, retired from the orchestra on Sept. 1, 1969. He remained so active in the musical life of his home town of Perchtoldsdorf that he was awarded the Honorary Cross of that town, and a room at the local Franz-Schmidt School of Music was named in his honor.
Shortly after the end of the 2000/2001 season, the Vienna Philharmonic was forced to bid farewell to yet another colleague. Prof. Josef Kondor died suddenly on July 4, 2001 at the age of 66. Josef Kondor was born in Vienna on Sept. 25, 1934, and received his first violin lessons at the age of seven from his father, the music teacher Josef Kondor, sen. Starting in 1948 he studied at the Music Academy with Josef Drevo. Kondor earned his diploma in 1954, but continued his studies another two years with Franz Samohyl. By this time he was not only substituting on a regular basis with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic, but was also active as a founding member of the Weller Quartet. This prominent ensemble won the International Competition of the German Radio in 1959. In 1961, Kondor became first violinist with the Vienna Symphony where he stayed for two years. On April 1, 1964, after a successful audition, he took up his position as second violinist with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, and on Nov. 1, 1965, became an active member of the Vienna Philharmonic, which he remained until his retirement on Sept. 1, 1997. Diligence and unwavering concentration on his work were characteristic of Kondor, who worked on maintaining the highest level of violin playing even after retirement, during which he continued to play enthusiastically as a substitute and maintain an active interest in orchestral activities. Josef Kondor received the title of Professor in 1985, the Gold Medal for Service to the Province of Salzburg in 1987, the Honorary Ring of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1990 and the Honorary Medal of the Republic of Austria in 1997. He remained a role model and embodiment of the "Philharmonic Idea" to the end of his life.
Karl Öhlberger, born in St. Pölten (Lower Austria) on Apr. 30, 1912, studied bassoon at the Music Academy of Vienna under Karl Strobl, the Philharmonic‘s principal bassoonist at that time. Öhlberger‘s career led him straight to our orchestra. After a successful audition, he was hired as of October 1, 1936 by the Vienna State Opera and on that date also became an active member of the Vienna Philharmonic, which he remained until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1974. In his capacity as principal bassoonist, he not only performed the entire orchestral repertoire, but also appeared repeatedly as soloist in such works as Haydn‘s Sinfonia concertante in Bb major, Hob. I:105, Mozart‘s Grand Partita in Bb major, KV 361, and Sinfonia concertante in Eb major, KV 297b. A particular highlight was Mozart‘s Bassoon Concerto in Bb major, KV 191, which he performed in 1955/56 in Vienna with Karl Böhm, in Paris with Karl Münchinger, and three times with Paul Hindemith on the Philharmonic‘s first tour of Japan.
In addition, Karl Öhlberger was active as chamber musician and pedagogue. He became professor at the Music Academy of Vienna and in the ensuing years built an outstanding bassoon class, out of which generations of Philharmonic musicians came forth, including Fritz Faltl, Harald Müller, his brother Camillo and nephew Reinhard Öhlberger, Ernst Pamperl, Stepan Turnovsky, Michael Werba und Dietmar Zeman. Countless numbers of students were coached under Karl Öhlberger in wind chamber music, confirming his reputation as an excellent teacher, admired not only for his musical excellence, but for his kind-heartedness as well. Until the end of his life he followed the orchestra‘s activities with great interest, and remained a father figure for his former students. Within the ranks of the orchestra he was acknowledged as a man whose personality put its stamp on that of the orchestra. The devotion of Öhlberger‘s students and colleagues was evident at his memorial mass, which was held on November 3, 2001 in Vienna‘s "Servitenkirche". Gottfried Boisits, Alexander Öhlberger, Johann Hindler, Hannes Moser (clarinet, Stage Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera), Wolfgang Vladar, Robert Lorenzi (Horn, Stage Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera), Michael Werba und Fritz Faltl played the slow movement from the Serenade for Winds in Eb major KV 375, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Reinhard Öhlberger honored his uncle‘s life work in a very personal eulogy. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg expressed last words of gratitude on behalf of the Vienna Philharmonic.