Josef Krips was one of the busiest of Austrian-born conductors after World War II, an unexpected benefit to his having been forced out of his native country following its annexation by Germany. He had a major performing and recording career on two continents, in orchestral and operatic music.
Josef Krips studied at the Vienna Academy with Felix Weingartner (later permanent conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic) and then served as Weingartner's assistant at the Vienna Volksoper from 1921 until 1924. He headed orchestras in various cities, and in 1933 was appointed resident conductor at the Vienna State Opera and to a professorship at the Vienna Academy. Krips held both posts for three years, until the German annexation in March 1938, when he was forced to leave the country. He emigrated to Yugoslavia and spent a year with the Belgrade Opera and the Belgrade Philharmonic, before the onset of the war forced Krips to halt his work in music.
Following the Allied victory in 1945, Krips returned to Vienna, conducting the State Opera upon its reopening, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic, and the reopened Salzburg Festival in 1946 with a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Krips was suddenly one of the busiest conductors in Austria, and one of the most welcomed, as his colleagues who had worked under the Nazi regime weren't all cleared for resumed public performances until 1947. He also took the State Opera and the Philharmonic on their first tours after World War II. Krips spent four years (1950 - 1954) as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and accepted his first American appointment in 1954 as principal conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in New York. In 1963, the year of his debut at London's Covent Garden conducting Don Giovanni, he became the principal conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a post he held until 1970. Krips made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966, and became a conductor at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1970.
Krips' visibility in the postwar music world made him one of the most familiar of all European conductors, both in Europe and America. His recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra for the low-priced Everest Records line was a perennially popular set among music students and casual listeners buying their first Beethoven material — these performances were appreciated anew in the 1990s on compact disc as remastered by Omega Records. Additionally, he made several superb opera recordings for major labels, including a Don Giovanni for London, and a version of Mozart's The Abduction From the Seraglio, with Anneleise Rothenberger, Lucia Popp, Gottlob Frick, and Krips' beloved Vienna Philharmonic for EMI, that remains one of the most charming and beguiling accounts of this opera.