Sir Georg Solti
MUSIC DIRECTOR (1969–1991)
MUSIC DIRECTOR LAUREATE (1991–1997)
Sir Georg Solti was born in Budapest in 1912 and studied piano, composition and conducting at the Liszt Academy with Bartók, Dohnányi, Kodály and Leo Weiner. Although he made his concert debut as a pianist, the Budapest Opera soon engaged him as a conductor. In 1937 Toscanini selected him as his assistant at the Salzburg Festival.
Solti’s remarkable partnership with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra began in 1954, when he first led the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival. He returned to Chicago for guest engagements with the Lyric Opera in 1956, conducting Die Walküre, Salome, and La forza del destino. His Orchestra Hall debut took place on December 9, 1965, and his first concerts as music director were in November 1969. Solti served as music director for 22 years and is credited with greatly extending and enhancing the Orchestra’s worldwide reputation — its first overseas tour in 1971 was under his direction. As music director laureate, he continued his association with the Orchestra several weeks each year in concerts and recordings.
Solti made his first recordings for Decca in 1947, as a pianist with Georg Kulenkampff and as a conductor with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. During his 49-year association with London/Decca, he recorded over 40 operas and over 250 discs, chiefly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (over 100 discs), Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra. He won 31 Grammy® Awards — more than any other classical or popular recording artist. Solti was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1996.
Sir Georg Solti died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 84.