Jan Walter Susskind (1 May 1913 - 25 March 1980) was a Czech-born British conductor and composer.
Susskind was born in Prague. His Austrian father was a music critic and his Czech mother was a piano teacher. At the Prague Conservatoire he studied under composer Josef Suk, the son-in-law of Dvořák. He later studied conducting under George Szell. Early in his career, he was often known as H. W. Süsskind (H for Hans or Hanuš).
Susskind fled Prague on 13 March 1939, two days before the German invasion. With the help of a British journalist and consular officials, he arrived in the United Kingdom as a refugee. He formed the Czech Trio, a chamber ensemble in which he was the pianist. Encouraged by Jan Masaryk, the Czech ambassador in London, the trio obtained many engagements.
In 1942 he joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company as a conductor, working with singers such as Heddle Nash and Dame Joan Hammond. In 1944 he made his first recording for Walter Legge of EMI conducting Liu's arias from Turandot with Hammond.
After the war, Susskind became a naturalised British citizen, and though he spent much of his subsequent career outside Britain, he said he would never dream of giving up his British citizenship.
His first appointment as musical director was to the Scottish Orchestra, where he served from 1946 to 1952. From 1953 to 1955 he was the conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (then known as the Victorian Symphony Orchestra). After free-lancing in Israel and South America he was appointed to head the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 1965. While with the TSO he taught conducting at The Royal Conservatory of Music where among his pupils were Milton Barnes and Rudy Toth. From 1968 to 1975 he was conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. In this period Susskind had also been much involved in the Mississippi River Festival, an outdoors crossover concert series organised by the local university.
In 1971 he opened the New York City Opera's season with The Makropulos Affair by Leoš Janáček.
Susskind died in Berkeley, California at the age of 66.
Notable recordings include:
Max Bruch - Violin Concerto in G-minor, Op.26 (Yehudi Menuhin, violin; Philharmonia Orchestra),
Antonin Dvořák - Cello Concerto in B-minor (Zara Nelsova, cello; Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra);,
Antonin Dvořák - Piano Concerto in G-minor (Rudolf Firkušný, piano; Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra);,
Gustav Holst - The Planets (Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra);,
W.A. Mozart - Motet "Exsultate, Jubilate", KV 165 (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano; Philharmonia Orchestra);,
W.A. Mozart - Piano Concerto, No 20, KV 466 (Artur Schnabel, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra);,
W.A. Mozart - Piano Concerto, No 24, KV 491 (Artur Schnabel; Philharmonia Orchestra);,
W.A. Mozart - Piano Concerto, No 24, KV 491 (Glenn Gould, piano; CBC Symphony Orchestra);,
Sergei Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto in D-minor, Op.30 (Leonard Pennario, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra);,
Jean Sibelius - Violin Concerto in D-major (Ginette Neveu, violin; Philharmonia Orchestra);,
Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra (Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra).