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Leopold Damrosch Edit Profile

composer , conductor

Leopold Damrosch was a German-American conductor, violinist, and composer.


Damrosch, Leopold was born on October 22, 1832 in Posen, Prussia (now Poznan, Poland).


He exhibited musical talent at an early age but in obedience to his parents, studied medicine, graduating as a doctor in 1854.


He then devoted himself to music, to the disgust of his parents who promptly ceased to give him any assistance. He lived miserably, working as a violinist in small towns and spas. Subsequently he began to conduct at small theaters, before being admitted as a violinist to the court orchestra at Weimar, under Franz Liszt. The two men became friends and Liszt dedicated one of his compositions to Damrosch.

In 1858 he was appointed conductor of the Breslau Philharmonic Concerts and also founded the Orchestral Society and Choral Union in Breslau. His enthusiasm for the new German music created difficulties for him in Breslau, however, and he gladly accepted, in 1871, an invitation to become conductor of the Arion Male Choral Union in New York.

Damrocsh played an important role in New York musical life. In 1873 he founded the Oratorio Society and in 1878, the New York Symphony Society. He conducted New York’s first great musical festival, with over 1,200 singers and 250 instrumentalists. Shortly before his sudden death he conducted a brilliant season of German opera at the Metropolitan.

Damrosch composed many works including seven cantatas, a symphony, music for Schiller’s play Joan of Arc, songs, works for violin, and “biblical idylls.”


  • Founded the Orchestral Society and Choral Union in Breslau.


Married Helena von Heimburg, 1857.

Helena von Heimburg

Franz Liszt - conductor