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Brenner, Walter (January 21, 1906-December 19, 1969)



  • Existence: January 21, 1906 - December 19, 1969


Walter Brenner was born 21 January 1906 in Wynberg (a suburb of Capetown), South Africa. His mother, Sarah Mehaly, was of Hungarian descent and his father Abraham, was Jewish. Brenner was born with a severe diabetic condition at birth and as a result was not named until later in infancy. Brenner was given his first musical instruction during childhood by his mother, most likely at the piano. Some time before 1930, the Brenner family relocated to Berlin, Germany. While in residence there, Brenner received his first formal training in theory and composition, as well as performance on the violin. Trying his abilities at composition, Brenner was awarded his first recording contract with the Berlin firm Mechanische Musikalische Rechte on 9 June 1931.

Brenner operated a music publishing company out of his home in Berlin by the name of Edition Stella. He started the company mainly to help musicians struggling under the suppression of the German government. Brenner immigrated to the United States in 1935 to escape the increasingly anti-Semitic policies of the German country. He took up residence in San Francisco and soon thereafter became a U.S. citizen. While in San Francisco, he studied composition with Dominico Brescia at Mills College in Oakland. After one year of study, it is said that Brescia told Brenner that his abilities surpassed all that Brescia could teach him.

In 1940, Brenner moved to Hollywood where he established himself as a music copyist for the Warner and Disney studios. In 1941, at a reading session of one of his major compositions for orchestra, Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead, Brenner met the woman who was to be his future spouse, Meta Rika Schiff. Meta was a lyricist for songwriters in the area. After their marriage, Brenner continued to compose in several musical mediums and continued to edit them throughout his life.

Brenner died of a heart attack at the Hollywood Receiving Hospital 19 December 1969.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Walter Brenner Collection

Identifier: MS-0088
Scope and Contents The Walter Brenner Collection, housed in the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, was donated in the early 1970s to the University of Missouri-Kansas City by Brenner’s spouse, Meta Rika Brenner. The collection is divided into three series: Manuscript Music Scores, Published Music Scores, and Miscellaneous Documents and Ephemera. Manuscript scores form the heart of the collection and date from 1930-1967, with the majority composed between 1941 and 1960. As Brenner was a...
Dates: 1923 - 1973