The Viennese composer who invented BBC medleys

The Viennese composer who invented BBC medleys


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2021

Julius Bürger was an Austrian who worked for the BBC in the 1930s inventing what were called ‘potpourris’.

In 1939, he moved to the USA where he workd for the poopular conductor Andre Kostelanetz and did a spell on Broadway before, in 1949, he landed a job as assistant conductor and repetiteur at the Metropolitan Opera, where he worked quietly for the rest of his career.

Read his unusual story, unearthed by a doctoral student, here.

There is also a short film here.


  • Charlie says:

    Julius Burger composed a series of pot pourri interludes to cover scene changes during the production of Eugene Onegin which the Met mounted in the mid 1950s conducted by Mitropoulos. The interludes are based on themes from Tchaikovsky’s opera and can be heard on the live recording from the Met with George London and Lucine Amara….

  • An amusing incident, on the subject of medleys and potpourris, took place at the 1965 Pathé Marconi EMI Xmas dinner held in the restaurant on one of the stages of the Tour Eiffel when Tino Rossi (one of the guests along with others such as Georges Jouvin & Yvette Horner) came before the band to sing and announced : “Et maintenant je vais vous chanter ce que les Anglais appellent un potpourri et que les Français appellent un medley”. And so, as a new arrival in France, I immediately learnt the difference – and remember it to this day !

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Some other investigation into this fascinating man here

  • fred says:

    he was far more well-known for his two famous songs “Launisches Glück” and “Zigeunerlied”, both songs were recorded and made famous by Joseph Schmidt and more recently by Rudolf Schock. Toccata classics by the way devoted a wonderful CD to Bürger’s work

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Describing Kostelanetz as “poopular” might be doing him a disservice. 😉

  • Paul Carlile says:

    …”the poopular conductor Andre Kostelanetz…” (!)
    Intentional slip or just something that plopped out past the poof reeders…?