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Solti, Sir Georg

SOLTI, SIR GEORG

SOLTI, SIR GEORG (1912–1997), conductor. Born in Budapest, Solti studied at the Liszt Academy with Dohnanyi, Bartok, and Kodaly and became an accomplished pianist. From 1930 to 1939 he was répétiteur at the Budapest Opera; he worked with Toscanini at Salzburg Festivals, making his debut as a conductor at Budapest (1938). As a Jew facing professional restrictions, he left Hungary in 1939. He spent the war years in Switzerland as a concert pianist, gaining the first prize at the 1942 Geneva competition. Solti's international conducting career began after the war. In 1946 he directed the Munich Opera and then in Frankfurt (1952–61), the Dallas SO (1960–61), and the Covent Garden Opera, London (1961–71). He was appointed director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1969–1990), transforming it to one of the most celebrated orchestras in the world. He subsequently took additional posts as "conseiller musical" at the Paris Opera (1971–73), music director of the Paris Orchestra (1972–75), principal conductor of the lpo and artistic director of the Salzburg Festival. Solti also appeared regularly with the Vienna Staatsoper, and from 1956, he frequently conducted the *Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he also made several recordings. His dynamic and vibrant conducting style, and his preference for huge sound, demanded the outmost professional performance from the players and reflected his charismatic and powerful personality. Solti became known for his wide-ranging concert and operatic repertoire, and his special competence in conducting for recordings. He gave a large number of first performances, made more than 250 recordings, among them the major works of Strauss, Wagner, Mozart, and Verdi. Solti made the first complete Ring recording (1958–1966) and conducted it in Bayreuth in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of Wagner's death (1983). Outstanding among his other recordings is a Mahler cycle (with the Chicago SO). He was honored with 32 Grammy awards – more than any other artist. In 1971 Solti was knighted; in 1972 he took on British nationality and was entitled Sir Georg. In 1974 he was made a Commandeur of the Légion d'Honneur. He has received many other major honors from many countries. He wrote a memoir, Solti on Solti (1997).

bibliography:

Grove Music Online; P. Dawson-Bowling, "Sir Georg Solti kbe (1912–1997): His Achievement in Wagner," in: Wagner News, 123 (Oct. 1997), 14–18; J. Breuer, "Sir Georg Solti (1912–1997)," in: Hungarian Music Quarterly, 9:1–2 (1998), 2–4.

[Max Loppert /

Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]

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