Sir George Solti †
The eminent in 1912 Hungarian-born English conductor Georg (actually György) Solti studied piano and composition at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, giving his first concert at the age of twelve. In the summers of 1936 and 1937 he was assistant to Arturo Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival, an encounter that left a deep impression on the young musician. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he emigrated to Zurich, resuming his career as a pianist. His career really began after the end of the Second World War. For almost twenty-five years, he concentrated entirely on conducting operas. He was chief musical director of the Munich Opera from 1947 to 1951 and of the Frankfurt Opera from 1952 to 1961. In 1951 he conducted for the first time in Salzburg.
At the end of the 1950’s he made his first recordings e.g. “Der Ring des Nibelungen” by Wagner with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1969 he took over as director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his second career as a conductor of orchestral music began. He remained in this post until 1991. From 1972 to 1975 he was also director of the Orchestre de Paris. In 1973, Rolf Liebermann appointed him as musical adviser to the Paris Opera. From 1979 to 1983 he was director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1983, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner, he conducted “Der Ring des Nibelungen” in Bayreuth but without achieving his customary high standard. He excels principally in the German and Austrian post-Romantic repertoire and in contemporary Hungarian music (Bartók, Kodaly).
In 1992 he took over from Herbert von Karajan as artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival (until 1994). In 1995 he was artistic adviser to the festival that replaced the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.
Sir George Solti died in late summer 1997.