Hannes Richter

Two Virtuosi for Mozart and Austria

Hannes Richter

Among the many concerts and events scheduled to celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday this year was a special evening of music and recognition presented by the Austrian American Council West (AACW) Los Angeles on February 25th.

A large audience that included Austrian Consul Stefan Hochmuth, as well as the Consul Generals of Germany and Switzerland, gathered in the elegant San Marino manor of Mrs. Rosemarie Reisch to enjoy a recital as in Mozart's time, surrounded by great art and candlelight. The internationally renowned pianist, Maria Prinz enthralled the audience with works by Mozart and composers of his time, including a premiere performance of a concerto by Mozart's son, Franz Xaver Mozart. Prinz, the Bulgarian-born daughter of composer/conductor Konstantin Iliev, studied piano with Jörg Demus and Ivonne Lefébure, and has been Professor of Music at Vienna's University of Music and Performing Arts since 1987.

She has given concerts throughout Europe, the U.S and in Japan, and triumphed in performances with Ricardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2005 Salzburg Festival. The standing ovation for Professor Prinz blended into that for another professor of music and the arts, Elfi von Dassanowsky, who was presented with the Auslandsösterreicher Weltbund (World Alliance of Austrians Abroad) Silver Decoration of Honor for her efforts in promoting the image of Austria internationally through her long and multifaceted work.

AACW President Veronika Reinelt decorated Prof. Dassanowsky and referred to her many honors from Austria, France, the U.S., and UNESCO. At age 15, Dassanowsky became the youngest woman admitted to Vienna's University (then Academy) of Music and Performing Arts as the protégé of concert pianist, Emil von Sauer, a student of composer Franz Liszt. While still a student, she was chosen by director Karl Hartl to be the music coach for his Mozart film Wen die Götter lieben (Whom the Gods Love, 1942).

She made her opera debut as Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro in 1946. Her subsequent career as one of the significant figures in Austria's postwar cultural life as the co-founder of the Belvedere Film studio in Vienna, as producer, singer, pianist, actress, radio announcer, and music pedagogue is well known. After working in Hamburg, New York and Hollywood, she re-established Belvedere Film in Los Angeles and Vienna in 1999, and has since served as executive producer of several films. She is considered one of the few senior women active in international independent production today. Sharing stories of their alma mater, the two virtuosi made Mozart's spirit come alive for all the friends of Austrian culture in attendance.