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Born in 1897
Inducted in 2000
George Szell was born in Budapest. In Vienna, he studied the piano and gave his first public concert at the age of 11; and at 16, he replaced a conductor at a concert of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Later, he was invited to appear as conductor pianist and composer at a concert of the Berlin Philharmonic. He impressed Richard Strauss to the point that he promoted the 18-year-old to the conductorial staff of the Berlin State Opera. He later succeeded Otto Klemperer as principal conductor of the Strasbourg Municipal Theater. It was at that time, he decided he would give up composition. He came to forbid further hearings of his youthful music at anybody’s hands. At the age of 24, in 1921, Szell became principal conductor at the Court Theater in Darmstadt, followed by a similar position in Dusseldorf. From 1924 to 1929 he was chief conductor of the Berlin State Opera and of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and also served as faculty member of the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik. In 1929, Szell taught at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Prague. He began to make appearances as guest conductor with leading orchestras of Europe, and in 1930 and 1931 he made his American debut with the St. Louis Symphony and many others down the road. In 1937 he was appointed Conductor of the Scottish Orchestra of Glasgow. Between 1942 and 1946 he served as a frequent guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Szell’s later promised to make The Cleveland Orchestra an ensemble internationally renowned and ultimately “second to none” in the world. With the strenuous 11-week tour of 1965, the world stature of “his” orchestra was assured. George Szell died on July 30, 1970, in Cleveland, of bone cancer and heart failure.
Performer: Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell (conductor)
Courtesy Of: Sony Classical