Reiner, Fritz (actually, Frigyes)

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Reiner, Fritz (actually, Frigyes)

Reiner, Fritz (actually, Frigyes ), eminent Hungarian-born American conductor; b. Budapest, Dec. 19, 1888; d. N.Y., Nov. 15, 1963. He studied piano with Thomân and composition with Koessler at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, and concurrently took courses in jurisprudence at the Univ. of Budapest. In 1909 he made his debut in Budapest conducting Carmen. In 1910–11 he conducted at the Laibach Landestheater. He was conductor of the Volksoper in Budapest (1911–14) and of the Court (later State) Opera in Dresden (1914–21); also conducted in Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and Barcelona. In 1922 he was engaged as music director of the Cincinnati Sym. Orch.; was naturalized as an American citizen in 1928. In 1931 he became a prof. of conducting at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia; among his students were Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss. In 1936–37 he made guest appearances at London’s Covent Garden; between 1935 and 1938 he was a guest conductor at the San Francisco Opera; from 1938 to 1948 he was music director of the Pittsburgh Sym. Orch.; then was a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. until 1953. He achieved the peak of his success as a conductor with the Chicago Sym. Orch., which he served as music director from 1953 to 1962, and which he brought up to the point of impeccably fine performance in both Classical and modern music. His striving for perfection created for him the reputation of a ruthless master of the orch.; he was given to explosions of temper, but musicians and critics agreed that it was because of his uncompromising drive toward the optimum of orch. playing that the Chicago Sym. Orch. achieved a very high rank among American symphonic organizations.


P. Hart, F. R.: A Biography (Evanston, 111., 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire