Friday, February 4, 2011

George Szell

George Szell did your momma.
George Szell (June 7, 1897 – July 30, 1970) turned the Cleveland Orchestra into the greatest orchestra in the world.
"We give a great concert, and George Szell gets a great review."
- Christoph von Dohnányi
Szell was born in Budapest, who was fortunate enough to be touring the United States in 1939 when war broke out. He and his family stayed and he became a naturalized citizen in 1946, the same year he was asked to become Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. The Cleveland was already a "highly regarded" orchestra, Szell turned it into his personal fiefdom. He grew the orchestra in size, fired imperfect musicians at a moment's notice, and reportedly told the custodians how to mop the bathrooms of Severance Hall.

He rehearsed his artists exhaustively, berating those who disappointed him, but also showing great appreciation for those who nailed it. He took the Cleveland Orchestra on its first international tours of the Soviet Union, Europe, Japan and Australia. He loved to cook and loved driving fancy cars. By 1954 he was an annual guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

Szell received honorary degrees from Western Reserve University and Oberlin College, and was a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

Source: Wikipedia
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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