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One of the greatest conductors of the twentieth-century, renowned for his precise and titanic performances of Beethoven and Wagner. He began conducting in 1907, at the recommendation of his friend Mahler, and was principal conductor for life of the Philharmonia until 1973. He was also a champion of modern music, such as Janáček, Schönberg, Weill, and Hindemith.

Klemperer was born in Breslau in Germany (now Wrocław in Poland) on 14 May 1885, and grew up in Hamburg. He studied in Frankfurt and Berlin, and was appointed to the German National Theatre in Prague in 1907. His début performance was Der Freischütz.

Later appointments included Hamburg (1910-1914), Strasbourg (1914-1917), Cologne (1917-1924), Wiesbaden (1924-1927), Berlin (1927-1933), Budapest (1947-1950), and Walter Legge's Philharmonia (later the New Philharmonia) from 1959 to 1973. His assistant there in the last two years of his life was Loren Maazel.

He was expelled from Germany by the Nazis, and settled first in the United States (citizen 1937) then in Israel (citizen 1970). He was also a composer, with works including six symphonies, occasionally heard. His son Werner Klemperer, himself a musician of some skill, played Colonel Klink in Hogan's Heroes.

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