Bruno Walter née Bruno Schlesinger, was a German conductor, composer, and writer who is remembered as one of the great conductors of the twentieth century. Walter began his study of music very early, and was an accomplished pianist by the age of eight. By fifteen, he decided that he would devote himself to conducting and moved to Hamburg a few years later to work as a chorus director.
It was in Hamburg that Walter met Gustav Mahler, who became his mentor. Mahler soon found a position for his protege in Breslau (today a part of Poland), and the young man continued in various conducting roles until 1901 when Mahler again hired him as an assistant at the Vienna Opera. Over the next twenty years, Walter became an internationally recognized conductor and performed throughout the United States and Europe.
When the Nazis took control, Walter was such a prominent figure that Hitler made repeated mention of him while complaining about the presence of Jewish conductors in Berlin. So, like many other Jews, Walter and his family fled to Vienna where they had already taken citizenship. Of course, that too was short-lived and the Walter family again relocated to Beverly Hills in 1939.
He remained in Los Angeles for the next twenty years, and worked with many notable American orchestras along the way. Bruno Walter left many great recordings behind him, but he is best known for his interpretations of Mahler's work. Walter performed the debut of Mahler's Das Lief von der Erde and Symphony No. 9. His recordings of these pieces are regarded as definitive.
Walter also composed a number of works in his early years and is the author of a number of books which discuss the life and work of Gustav Mahler.
He died in 1962 in Beverly Hills.