TRIBUTES have been paid to the former principal conductor of Scotland's national orchestra, Walter Weller, who has died aged 75.


The musician is understood to have died at his home in Vienna on Sunday following a short battle with a cancer.

Mr Weller was the principal conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) between 1991 and 1996, and had been its conductor emeritus since then.

He was so popular in the role that his face once adorned a Scottish banknote.

A spokesman for the RSNO said: "Walter Weller was a very well-respected member of our artistic team and we had been looking forward to inviting him back to celebrate our 125th anniversary next year.

"He was a fantastic musician.

"His father played in the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra and Walter began playing for them when he was only 17.

"His Weller string quartets are some of the best in the world."

Mr Weller had not performed for the RSNO for a few years, but he was famous among his colleagues at the orchestra for always insisting on staying in the same room of the same hotel - the Hilton in Great Western Road - whenever he visited Glasgow.

"It became known among the staff there as the 'Weller Suite'," said the spokesman.

Mr Weller famously came to the RSNO's rescue in the early 1990s at a time when the players were under threat from management, and appealed to the famous conductor to help them.

He flew in from the Continent to mediate in the dispute and within a month the orchestra had been saved and members of the then-management ousted.

Michael Tumelty, former music critic for the Herald, said his death was the "end of an era".

He said: "Walter was absolutely entrenched in a tradition of conducting that goes back to the 19th Century.

"He had a seminal influence on the sound of [the RSNO] that extends to this day. He brought a depth and richness of sound that nobody else ever has.

"He is going to be desperately missed. They absolutely loved him - it's a huge loss to Scotland."

Mr Weller was also the musical director of the National Orchestra of Belgium and had visited South Korea in May to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic.

He was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour on his return to Europe.

He is survived by his wife, Sisi, and their son.