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2022-09-18: Martelli

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2022-02-08: Kopsch

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Julius Kopsch

Julius Kopsch was born on 6 February 1887 in Berlin (Germany). His father Julius Kopsch was a teacher and later politician and member of parliament for the DDP, a left-liberal party in the Weimar Republic. On demand of his parents Julius Kopsch studied law in Berlin, but also music at the Stern conservatory. His teachers were Wilhelm Klatte, Arnold Kleffel and Josef Stransky. In 1909 Julius Kopsch finished his law studies with a doctor's degree in Heidelberg. But already in 1911 he completely focused on his musical career as a conductor.

At first he was kapellmeister at the Komische Oper Berlin, then in Krefeld, Lübeck and during the World War I in Lodz and Warsaw. In 1920 Julius Kopsch became music director of the State Orchestra in Oldenburg and in 1924 the principal conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (the former Blüthner Orchestra).

1925 was a turning point in the life of Julius Kopsch. In that year the composer Friedrich Rösch died who was also a member of the managing board of the Genossenschaft Deutscher Tonsetzer (GDT), the first German composer's rights society. Richard Strauss – who was also a member of that board – asked Julius Kopsch to take the position of Friedrich Rösch. Julius Kopsch accepted and since then dedicated much of his life to fight for the rights of composers, lyricists, publishers and performers. In 1929 he had to step down from his position at the GDT but remained the main juristic partner for Richard Strauss and his copyright activities. Julius Kopsch also published several articles about copyright issues and was in regular exchange with other lawyers about this topic, for example with Wenzel Goldbaum.

With his new position at the head of the GDT Julius Kopsch knew that he could not continue his conductor career. Therefore he was pleased when an amateur orchestra set up just by doctors asked him to be their new conductor. That was also in 1925 and Julius Kopsch accepted his position because it allowed him to work as a conductor even though on a lower level. The Ärzte-Orchester Berlin developed well under the direction of Julius Kopsch and became a good amateur orchestra. In 1939 a similar amateur orchestra set up by lawyers asked Julius Kopsch to become their conductor. Julius Kopsch again accepted and merged the two orchestras in 1940 to build the Ärzte- und Juristen-Orchester. Julius Kopsch remained conductor of this orchestra until 1964.


Since 1925 and their common work for the composer‘s rights Julius Kopsch and Richard Strauss became close friends. So when Richard Strauss died in 1949 it was the wish of Julius Kopsch to preserve the memories and the music of Richard Strauss. For that reason he founded the International Richard Strauss Society in 1952 and remained their president until 1964.

Julius Kopsch died on 5 March 1970 in Berlin (Germany).

As a composer Julius Kopsch was active mainly before coming part of the head of the GDT in 1925. After that he focused on the work at the GDT and being conductor of an amateur orchestra. So it seems that little time and leisure was left for composing. The work catalogue of Julius Kopsch contains a symphony in B flat minor (1920), a Waltz symphony (1948), a Ceremonial Prelude for orchestra (1935), the Symphonic suite for orchestra „Reineke Fuchs“ (1935), the tone poem „Komödianten“ for orchestra (1912), a piano concerto (1920), a concerto for 6 flutes solo, a string quartet (1916), a violin sonata, a trio for piano, oboe and clarinet (1925), about 60 songs and some chamber music compositions. Only a handful of these works were published which is surprising because especially his piano concerto was quite successful in the 1920s and was played by such renowned pianist like Walter Gieseking, Erwin Schulhoff and Paul Schramm.

Julius Kopsch Archive


In my possession is a part of the estate of Julius Kopsch. That includes some of his music manuscripts, but mainly letters and documents related to all activities throughout his lifetime: concert programs of performances of his works, concert programs with him as a conductor, documents about his copyright activities (at the Genossenschaft Deutsche Tonsetzer and beyond), his work as a conductor of the Ärzte- und Juristenorchester and the founding of the Richard Strauss Gesellschaft.

I prepared a finding aid about all the items in this archive which can be downloaded below:

PDF-Dokument [60.3 KB]

Ein kleines Streichquartett


Part of the Kopsch Archive is the complete manuscript of "Ein kleines Streichquartett" (A small string quartet) by Julius Kopsch. The work was composed in 1915 and originally consisted of at least 3 movements. But it seems that Julius Kopsch revised and shortened the work. My fair copy is written into a bound manuscript book with the movement titles "1. Satz" and "3. Satz". So a second movement seems to be missing. But the pages are continously numbered with no gaps. So this two movement version looks very much like the final version of the work. Also the title - refering to a "small" work - makes sense with this version.

For information purposes I present here the score of the work:

PDF-Dokument [282.3 KB]
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© Tobias Broeker