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George Szell


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A comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest conductors

Table of Contents

Preface ix Acknowledgments xv Abbreviations xix Chronology xxi I ntroduction 1 1. T he New Mozart (1897-1929) 3 2. T he Conductor Spreads His Wings (1930-38) 23 3. Musical Pioneering in Australia (1938, 1939) 42 4. N ew World, New Beginnings (1939-46) 56 5. Cleveland: Contest and Commitment (1942-47) 78 6. Szell, the Orchestra Builder (1947-54) 105 7. George Szell and Rudolf Bing (1953-54) 141 8. Keeping the Promise: "Second to None" (1954-57) 149 9. T he Golden Years (1957-65) 172 10. T he Cleveland Orchestra in the World (1965-68) 223 11. Summers at Home 254 12. F inale: Cleveland, Japan, Korea, Anchorage, Cleveland (1968-70) 270 E pilogue 289 I n Szell's Words 291 Appendix A. "On the 150th Anniversary of Schumann's Birth," by George Szell 295 Appendix B. Staff and Kulas Foundation Conductors under George Szell 299 Appendix C. Apprentice Conductor Qualifications 301 Appendix D. 1957 European Tour Repertoire 303 Appendix E. 1965 European Tour Repertoire 305 Appendix F. Szell's Repertoire 307 Discography 331 N otes 355 Bibliography 397 I ndex 399 Illustrations follow page 104

About the Author

Michael Charry has conducted widely in the U.S. and internationally. He was a member of the conducting staff of the Cleveland Orchestra for nine years under George Szell and for two years after Szell's death. He is on the faculty of Mannes College The New School for Music, in New York City, where he was head of orchestral studies and music director of the Mannes Orchestra.


"Michael Charry's fluently written, comprehensive biography tells us of Szell the self-deprecating young composer... Periods spent in Australia and Scotland are well documented, and so is Szell as operatic conductor, chamber musician and pianist. There are interesting comparisons between Szell's and Karajan's ways of working... That's what I call an important book." Rob Cowan, Gramophone "A magnificent achievement. I was especially impressed by Mr. Charry's skill in conveying a deep admiration for his subject without falling into the trap of fawning or idol-worshipping--a quality seldom encountered in biographies of great conductors." Stephen C. Hillyer, past president of the Fritz Reiner Society This book is the first full biography of George Szell, one of the greatest orchestra and opera conductors of the twentieth century... There is surely no one more qualified than Michael Charry to write Szell's biography. Mr Charry was a member of the conducting staff of the Cleveland Orchestra for nine years under George Szell and continued for two years after Szell's death. He interviewed him, his family and his associates over several decades, draws on this first hand material and correspondence, orchestra records, reviews, and other archival sources to construct a lively and balanced portrait of Szell's life and work." - Samuel Lewis, Musical Opinion, July 2012

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