Spirit of the Gift Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's endowed funds

Konrad Wolff and Ilse Bing Chamber Music Student Award

Konrad Wolff was an internationally renowned pianist and author who had neither lived in Wichita, nor taught at Wichita State University. But, it was an invitation by a friend to judge a small piano competition that brought him to WSU for his first and last time in the mid-1980s. Impressed by the university, he decided to give half of his estate to the School of Music. Mr. Wolff died in 1989.

His wife, Ilse Bing, was a pioneer of photojournalism and was internationally famous for her avant-garde photography. She died in 1998.

Unknown to one another, Mr. Wolff and Ms. Bing emigrated from Germany to France in the 1930s to escape the Nazis. They met in Paris and married in 1937. In 1940, because they were Jewish, the pair was imprisoned in Camp Gurs, a concentration camp in southwestern France. Influential friends secured Ms. Bing's release. Mr. Wolff was allowed to escape. In 1941, they fled from Europe to the United States with nothing but their reputations.

Because they had been persecuted by the Third Reich, a portion of the couple's estate came as a result of reparations that had been paid to them by the German government.

The Konrad Wolff and Ilse Bing Endowed Music Award is presented to winners of the Wolff-Bing Chamber Music Contest, which is held annually at WSU.