Michael Schnitzler - Musician and Conservationist

Meeting with national park functionaries and the director of the Corcovado Foundation, Alejandra Monge

Concert violinist and Professor
Michael Schnitzler was born in 1944 in Berkeley, California, as a son of Austrian parents. His grandfather was the famous novelist and playwright, Arthur Schnitzler. In 1959, he moved to Vienna with his parents, where he studied violin at the Vienna Music Academy and started playing in the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic at age 15.  After being a member of the chamber orchestra "The Vienna Soloists", he was appointed concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, where he remained from 1967 until 1983.  From 1982 until his retirement in 2006, he was full professor for violin at the Vienna Music University.   Since 1965, he has been the violinist of the Haydn Trio Vienna, with which he played concerts all over the world and recorded a large part  of  the literature for piano trio. He is also  concertmaster the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra, has been juror for international competitions, and has appeared as soloist under conductors such as Giulini, Abbado, Jochum, or Sawallisch.


Michael Schnitzler 1992 with gold washers in the Esquinas rainforest.

Nature lover and nature conservationist
Michael Schnitzlers big love is nature. In his youth, he climbed mountains in the  Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains and the Alps. He trekked in Peru, Canada and Ladakh, climbed Kilimanjaro and Cotopaxi in Ecuador, undertook safaris in Africa, went diving in the Red Sea, the Maldives, Polynesia, the Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean, and rafted through the Grand Canyon. His travels brought him to the Galapagos Islands, the Antarctic, Greenland and various tropical countries, where he fell in love with the ecosystem "rainforest".  In 1989, he purchased a little house on the edge of the rainforest near Golfito in southern Costa Rica with the intention of spending his vacations there.  Soon he became aware of the ongoing destruction of the surrounding forests and decided to do something against this catastrophe.  In 1991, the Esquinas forest was declared a national park, but it was  categorized as a "paper park" as long as all property was in private hands.   Logging permits were in effect, and logging was continuing at a fast pace. The only way to stop this was to purchase the property and donate it to the Costa Rican government. Michael Schnitzler founded the NGO Rainforest of the Austrians with the purpose of collecting funds in  to buy  land within the Esquinas forest. Soon, his voluntary work as a conservationist took up even more time than his profession as a musician.