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Szigeti, Joseph

Szigeti, Joseph

Szigeti, Joseph, eminent Hungarian-born American violinist and teacher; b. Budapest, Sept. 5, 1892; d. Lucerne, Feb. 19, 1973. He began his studies at a local music school; while still a child, he was placed in the advanced class of Hubay at the Budapest Academy of Music; then made his debut in Berlin at age 13. He made his first appearance in London when he was 15; subsequently toured England in concerts with Busoni; then settled in Switzerland in 1913; was a prof, at the Geneva Cons. (1917-25). He made an auspicious U.S. debut playing the Beethoven Concerto with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orch. at N.Y.’s Carnegie Hall (Dec. 15, 1925); thereafter he toured the U.S. regularly while continuing to appear in Europe. With the outbreak of World War II, he went to the U.S. (1940), becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1951. After the end of the war, he resumed his international career; settled again in Switzerland in 1960, and gave master classes. Szigeti was an artist of rare intellect and integrity; he eschewed the role of the virtuoso, placing himself totally at the service of the music. In addition to the standard repertoire, he championed the music of many 20th-century composers, including Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, Prokofiev, Honegger, Bloch, and Martin. He wrote the books With Strings Attached (N.Y., 1947), A Violinist’s Notebook (London, 1965), and Szigeti on the Violin: Improvisations on a Violinist’s Themes (N.Y., 1969).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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