The music world lost an important figure on Monday morning, October 10th, when the distinguished hôtelier and concert presenter Klaus Lauer passed away at his home in Badenweiler, Germany.
The programmer of cutting-edge music festivals at his hotel, the Hotel Römerbad, Klaus became known to CMS audiences when he was invited by us to curate a mini-festival during the 2008-09 season inspired by his unique programming in Germany.
Titled “Night Fantasies” the four concerts took place at the Society for Ethical Culture, CMS’s home-away-from-home during the Tully Hall renovation. Those who attended may recall that one of the concerts was postponed due to a fire alarm, which left the audience, musicians, and composer George Crumb standing on 64th street for much of the evening. Klaus’s spectacular programs, however, left a lasting impact on our audiences, our musicians, and on us, and included night-inspired music from a stunning array of composers, from Crumb to Debussy, Carter to Ligeti, Chopin to Bartok, 14 composers in all.
The Hotel Römerbad opened in 1825 and was owned and run by Klaus Lauer’s family until the hotel changed hands in 2005. Klaus, who had trained both as a hotel manager but had a strong background in the arts, began his week-long festivals (the “Musiktage”) in 1973, programming creatively, commissioning world-renowned composers, and inviting international selections of performers. The Emerson String Quartet was lucky enough to be included for the first time in 1986, and performed a huge amount of music for Klaus, including the entire Bartok and Shostakovich cycles, as well the Beethoven quartet cycle three times.
We had been preceded at the hotel, and heard much about it, from pianist Gilbert Kalish who performed there often, and from former CMS Executive Director Norma Hurlburt who during those years had served as managerial liaison.
Klaus Lauer visited New York to plan for his festivals in 2006. During that time, he toured the construction of the new Alice Tully Hall, and he and his family enjoyed being Upper West siders, dining with enthusiasm at Planet Sushi (formerly at 78th and Amsterdam) with his wife Annette and daughter Anna.
Klaus Lauer will be dearly missed by distinguished musicians the world over. His uncompromising vision and service to the art of music were inspiring and exemplary, and his personal support and friendship irreplaceable. CMS is greatly indebted to him, as are we, both professionally and personally.
David and Wu Han