It is with great sadness that the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester has to announce the passing away of its board member Prof. Alfred Altenburger, aged 88 years, in Vienna.
A long-time board member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Prof. Alfred Altenburger was Head of Strings of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester until 2008, he was responsible for the auditions of all string players and was coaching the first violins between 1995-2008, and he was also coaching all GMJO strings in many chamber music projects at our residencies, including the Salzburg Easter Festival, the Lucerne Festival at Easter, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Cité de la Musique Paris, the Festival d´Art Lyrique d´Aix-en-Provence, the Bolzano Festival Bozen, the Vienna Musikverein, and others.
During his tenure, concertmasters of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester include such eminent musicians as Antonello Manacorda, Renaud Capuçon, Vahid Khadem-Missagh, Andreas Neufeld, Raphael Christ, Franz-Markus Siegert, and Carolina Kurkowski-Perez.
He worked closely with our Founder and Music Director Claudio Abbado and with all guest conductors of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, including Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung, Sir Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Iván Fischer, Daniele Gatti, Mariss Jansons, Philippe Jordan, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, and Franz Welser-Möst.
Appointed by Claudio Abbado, with whom he enjoyed a life-long friendship, he was the founding Artistic Director of the Gustav Mahler Academy - Fondazione Musica e Gioventù, in Bolzano.
A member of the Vienna Philharmonic for many years, he was speaker ("Vorstand") of this orchestra between 1978 and 1987, and he founded, together with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, his later wife Alice Hoffelner and Eduard Melkus, the "Wiener Gamben Quartett" in 1949.
Generations of violin and string players of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester were selected, coached and most warmly guided by Prof. Alfred Altenburger, and he was truly revered by all of them, as by all his colleagues, all conductors and soloists, all board members, management, and staff.
We shall always remember Prof. Alfred Altenburger with deepest respect, gratitude, and love, and we join his family in mourning this extraordinary personality. His legacy will live on in many future generations of GMJO musicians. May he rest in peace.
Photo credit: Archive GMJO