KARL BÖHM, born in Graz in 1894, began by studying law, like his father before him. While still a student he obtained his first conducting engagement in Graz in 1917. In 1921, with the support of Bruno Walter, he moved to Munich; in 1927 he was appointed general music director in Darmstadt, and in 1931 he moved to the corresponding position in Hamburg. In 1933 he joined the National Socialist party, which enabled him to succeed Fritz Busch at the Dresden opera house in 1934 when Busch was forced to leave Germany for political reasons. Böhm remained in Dresden until 1943, conducting the premieres of several operas by Richard Strauss. In 1943-45 and again in 1954-56 he directed the Vienna State Opera, but finally resigned in response to complaints that he spent too little time in Vienna. He was succeeded by Herbert von Karajan. However, in the 1960s Karl Böhm was frequently back on the podium at the Vienna State Opera.
Böhm often appeared with many other famous orchestras but enjoyed a particularly close association with the Vienna Philharmonic. Invitations to conduct at leading opera houses took him all over Europe and to the United States, and to numerous important music festivals such as those at Bayreuth and Salzburg. In the spring of 1981 he made his final public appearances at the Vienna State Opera. Just a few weeks before his death he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic for the last time in a series of studio recordings for a film version of Elektra. Karl Böhm died in Salzburg in 1981 at the age of 87.