Ferdinand Rauter

Klagenfurt – London
1902 – 1987
Origin: Austrian

Ferdinand’s Early Life

Ferdinand Rauter was born in Klagenfurt, the captial of the southern Austrian province of Carinthia. In 1913, the family moved to Aussig, on the Elbe, where his father became director of a school for the blind.

From 1920, Ferdinand studied music and chemistry in Dresden. His musical interests ranged from a deep appreciation of the music of Bach, of which he was a distinguished performer on both piano and organ, to the study and collection of folksongs.

Rauter emigrated to Britain in 1929 and formed a partnership with the Icelandic singer Engel Lund, who had a unique talent for performing folk songs from all over the world in their original languages. Rauter wrote the accompaniments for these, and they performed them together in hundreds of concerts in Britain and on several tours of Europe and the United States. They also made recordings for the BBC and EMI.

Ferdinand’s Internment

In July 1940, Ferdinand was interned as an ‘enemy alien’ and it was in Ladbroke Grove police station that he first met Peter Schidlof (who would go on to be co-found the Amadeus Quartet).

Ferdinand and Peter were moved to Warth Mills, then Prees Heath in Shropshire and finally onto the Isle of Man. During his internment of six months, Ferdinand is known to have met Norbert Brainin, Sigmund Nissel, Paul Hamburger, Peter Gellhorn, Hans Keller and Egon Wellesz.

A diarist throughout his life, Ferdinand wrote down his experiences in internment on any spare paper he could find. He copied this text to his diaries when it was safe to do so. He also kept telegrams and letters from this period.

"Another half an hour on foot to Warth Mills which can only be compared to purgatory or Hell. The factory ruin is surrounded by barbed wire without vegetation. The floors are filthy. Pipes and drive belts hang around in the air, glass ceilings, no light and no black out."

Life After Internment

After 1941, Ferdinand Rauter gave frequent concerts at the National Gallery with Engel Lund and toured the UK widely as part of the moral–boosting activities of Council for the Encouragement of Music and Arts (CEMA).

Ferdinand co-founded the Refugee Musicians Committee, and later the Austrian Musicians Group and the Anglo-Austrian Music Society. He also helped arrange free lessons with the eminent teacher Max Rostal for Sigi Nissel and Peter Schidlof. Here, they and Norbert Brainin, also a pupil, were introduced to the cellist Martin Lovett and formed what was to become the Amadeus Quartet.

Life After the War

Ferdinand married Claire Kosten in 1946 and had two children, Andrea and Peter.

Post-war, Ferdinand was active in Scotland, developing music therapy for disabled children. He later worked with Juliette Alvin and Nordoff Robbins in London.

‘Rau’, as he was affectionately known to his friends, continued to play until shortly before his death in 1987, but it is perhaps as a great teacher that he is most remembered. His enthusiasm for music stimulated interest in many who had always thought themselves unmusical.

Thanks to Andrea Rauter for providing biographical information and archive images. The Rauter Archive is held in University of Salzburg: Music and Migration Collections.



Next Internee

Peter Gellhorn

Breslau — London

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