Monday, March 28, 2011

The death of a prince who became a commoner

Prince Georg Wilhelm Albert Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was the fourth child of Wilhelm Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his second wife, Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen.  But the young prince, who was born three years after the fall of the German monarchies, was a gifted musician, which he shared with his mother, Princess Feodora.  He studied music with the well-known pianist Max Martin Stein in Breslau, gave his first recital in 1944, and took part in in master class with Elly Ney in Salzburg.

In the waning days of the second World War,  Prince Georg and other family members left their home, Schloss Heinrichau in Silesia, and made their way to Meiningen, and then Georg walked across the border into northern Bavaria. He was arrested three times and then released by the Soviets.

Georg settled in West Germany.  In 1946, he was admitted to a new School of music in Freiburg, where he was admitted to Carl Seemann's master class. He continued with his piano studies, there and also studied voice from 1949 to 1953 with Margarethe von Winterfeldt.

In 1946,  Prince Georg adopted the stage name Jörg Brena.  He officially adopted the name seven years later on the occasion of his marriage.  This change also including a renunciation of his titltes and succession rights.

He taught singing at the Freiburg Music school and earned a deserved reputation as a oratorio singer.  In later years he returned to Weimar, where he was involved with the Stiftung Sophienhaus  He also took part in musical porgrms in Weimar, celebrating his family's heritage.

Prince Georg was born  on November 24, 1921 at Schloss Heinrichau.  Jörg Brena died on March 11, 2011 at Bad Krozingen.   His funeral took place March 23 at Freiburg.  He was 89 years old.

He married Gisela Jänisch at Freiburg im Breisgau on February 3, 1953.  They had three daughters,  Ariane, Cornelie and Isobel.   Gisela died in 1989.

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