Today's Classical Music Video

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Szell Conducts Mussorgsky

George Szell died in 1970 but the first biography has just appeared under the title George Szell: A Life in Music. It was written by Michael Charry who was an assistant to Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra. Within a week or so I will post a lengthy review of the book on the LSM website. But let me just mention here that the book is well-researched and gives us a very comprehensive view of this great conductor. 

Szell was a child prodigy pianist and composer  who grew up in Vienna, became a protegee of composer-conductor Richard Strauss and worked for many years at leading opera houses included the Met. He was chosen to head the Cleveland Orchestra in 1946 and remained its musical director until his death. Under his direction the Cleveland Orchestra became one of the great orchestras of the world.

While Cleveland was the place he chose to use as home base, Szell had numerous offers to head other orchestras. He was asked twice to take over the Chicago Symphony but declined both times. In this 1961 video he is seen guest conducting the Chicago Symphony in the Prelude to the opera Khovantchina by Mussorgsky.

Paul E. Robinson

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