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Studying photography and moving to London


Early life in Vienna
Wolfgang Suschitzky Film-maker
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I was born at a very early age in Vienna in 1912. I remember clearly that when I was brought home from the nursing home by my parents, my sister said, ’What did we need him for?’ She was four years  at the time. My father was a very progressive man for the time. He left the Jewish community because he said he did not believe in any God. He was an atheist and declared himself konfessionslos — in German — which means without any religion. My parents were loving parents, they were very good. My father tried to install some culture in us, took us to the National Gallery and other galleries, and of course he had books at his disposal, being a book seller, and later publisher. It was the first social democratic bookshop in Vienna, and later, also a publishing company. My mother spent most of her time in the kitchen because my father came home for lunch and for his little nap after lunch. He opened his shop at eight o'clock in the morning and came back at six o'clock, so he did need a bit of rest some time. I went to school, primary school. We learnt writing, in two kinds of alphabet. We used slate… slate plates with a hard instrument to write with. We… you could wipe the slate afterwards and use it again. I was a very naughty boy. We played all sorts of tricks with… with my chums in the park, every afternoon. We rang people’s doorbells and so what… the usual things that boys do. My father knew the counsellor for education for Vienna and this man had the theory that a corrective (sic) education is better than an individual education at home. So my father put me into a boarding school, but we... we could go home on, weekends. That is if I wasn’t detained for being naughty. Even at school I wasn’t very peaceful, and always up to tricks. Of course, not having any religion, I didn’t attend the class at the time of religious lessons, and my colleagues envied me. I could go into the park and read a book or just wander around.

Born in Austria, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912-2016) trained as a photographer and became one of the first in his field to take portraits of animals. After coming to England he worked with Paul Rotha as the cameraman on various documentaries and films such as “No Resting Place”, “Ulysses” and “Get Carter”.

Listeners: Misha Donat

Misha Donat is the son of Wolfgang Suschitzky. He has composed music for the theatre and the cinema (including films directed by Lindsay Anderson, and by Albert Finney). For more than 25 years he was a senior music producer for BBC Radio 3, where he planned and produced the prestigious lunchtime concerts at St John’s, Smith Square, at which many of the world’s leading artists appeared on a regular basis, and also instigated a Young Artists’ Forum as a showcase for musicians of the coming generation. As a broadcaster himself, he has given many radio talks. Misha Donat has contributed a large number of programme notes to the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival and other venues, and he has written CD booklets for such labels as Decca, DG, RCA, Philips and Hyperion. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine since its inception more than 10 years ago, and has written articles for The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Musical Times, The Listener, Opera, and other publications. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, and has given lectures and seminars at Vassar College and Bard College in New York State, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), and in the UK at Durham University, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Norwich Music festival. He is currently working as a producer for the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Tags: Vienna, National Gallery

Duration: 4 minutes

Date story recorded: March 2008

Date story went live: 06 August 2009