Berky, John: Felix Maria Gatz - The Forgotten Bruckner Pioneer

Berky, John: Felix Maria Gatz - The Forgotten Bruckner Pioneer
Felix Maria Gatz
The Gatz Essay: When a colleague sent me an extensive list of Bruckner performances conducted in Germany in the 1920s and 30s by Felix Maria Gatz, I wondered why I had never heard of this pioneering Bruckner conductor before. Then I found that he had done a series of radio broadcasts on Bruckner after he emigrated to the USA. A little research into his life has provided us with a tragic tale and the reason why he was so quickly forgotten and why he should be remembered today for his work. The Gatz Essay

The Franz Moissl booklet: In addition to my essay, a booklet about Felix Gatz was published in 1934 by Franz Moissl just after Gatz left for the United States. That booklet is available in this website's Article in English section. Click here.

Gatz's Te Deum Recording: As my essay states, there is only one known recording of Felix Maria Gatz conducting Bruckner. The recording features two sections from Bruckner's Te Deum and can be heard here.

A WQED Broadcast: My friend and past colleague, Jim Cunningham of Radio Station WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania interviewed me regarding Felix Maria Gatz and his Pittsburgh connection for a segment of a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra broadcast. A segment of the broadcast is available here.

The Voice of Lura Stover: Felix Maria Gatz met Lura Stover while he was a professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was featured in several of the musical productions that he organized. They were married in New York City after Gatz left Duquesne University. The couple eventually moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Gatz’s talents were quickly noted and in 1941, she won the prestigious Naumburg Award. In January of 1942, she gave her Naumburg recital at Town Hall in New York City.

Just six months after her Town Hall recital, Felix Gatz died suddenly of a heart attack. With little left to keep her in Scranton, Lura Stover (she retained her maiden name professionally) moved back to New York City to continue her studies at the Juilliard School. She had been invited to attend Juilliard to study both piano and voice.

Several years after Professor Gatz’s death, Lura Stover remarried. In 1955, she moved with her family to Santa Barbara, California where she remained until her death in 2009.

Below are four examples of her singing. The first two are from concert performances. In 1947, she made some recordings for Bibletone Records including selections from Handel's Messiah. The two highlights below were transferred from Bibletone M 1903.

Du Bois: from The Seven Last Words.

Bach: Bleed and Break Aria.

Handel: Glory to God in the Highest.

Handel: I Know My Redeemer Liveth