Sunday music has focused on composers, but the 20th century in particular should focus on conductors. Partly this is because classical music written in the 20th century is so bad, but partly it is a reflection of the explosion of symphony orchestras and the spread of "mid brow" culture in the post war period in particular. Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most famous of these conductors, but most important is without doubt Bruno Walter.
Born on this day in 1876, his name was originally Buno Schlesinger. His musical education soon focused him on his main interest, conducting. As the choral director at the Hamburg opera he met Gustav Mahler and ended up becoming close to him for the rest of Mahler's life. Not only was Walter present when Mahler died, but Mahler's widow asked Walter to conduct the premier performance of the yet-to-be-performed Das Leid Von Der Erde.
But Walter's jewish background was a serious hinderance as the Nazis came to power, and Walter ended up in the United States. His reputation was such that he conducted - and recorded -all the most important orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles symphonies. His influence was most felt in the music he selected for performance.
His recordings were mostly done before stereo was available but are generally considered superior to the later stereo versions. This recording of Das Leid Von Der Erde is famous despite the older technology used in its creation.