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Szell, George

Born: 1897 AD
Died: 1970 AD
Nationality: Hungarian
Categories: Composers, Conductors, Pianists

1897 – George Szell, born on the 7th of June in Budapest but grew up in Vienna. He was a Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, and for the recordings of the standard classical repertory he made with Cleveland and other orchestras.

1915 – At the age of 18, he won an appointment with Berlin’s Royal Court Opera (now known as the Staatsoper).

1919 – He credited Strauss as being a major influencing force of his conducting style. Much of his baton technique, the Cleveland Orchestra’s transparent lean sound, and his willingness to be an orchestra builder came from Strauss. The two remained friends after hel left the Royal Court Opera.

1924 – Moved around from opera houses and orchestras in Europe: in Berlin, Strasbourg, where he succeeded Otto Klemperer at the Municipal Theatre, Prague, Darmstadt, Düsseldorf and Glasgow before becoming principal conductor, of the Berlin Staatsoper, which had replaced the Royal Opera.

1930 – Made his United States debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. At this time he was better known as an opera conductor than orchestral.

1939 – He was returning via the US from an Australian tour; he ended up settling with his family in New York City.

1941 – Began to receive frequent guest conducting invitations. Important among these invitations was a series of four concerts with Arturo Toscanini’s NBC Symphony Orchestra.

1943 – He made his New York Philharmonic debut.

1946 – He came to Cleveland to take over a respected, but undersized, orchestra which was struggling to recover from the disruptions of World War II.

       – He was asked to become the Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra.

1970 – Died on the 30th of July.