Sir Georg Solti is one of the most accomplished conductors in classical music history with leading artistic roles at famous orchestras around the world, 32 Grammy awards, and over 250 recordings on Decca. His podium manner was vibrant, fluid, full of energy which put off some, but it produced the highest caliber of performances during his lifetime of conducting.
Solti was born in Hungary and gave his first recital at the age of 12, after which he studied both piano and composition at Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest being taught by the likes of Bartok, Dohnanyi, and Kodaly.
After his formal studies commenced he joined the Budapest Opera as a tutor, during which time he shadowed conductors such as Walter and Kleiber. Then he studied conducting under Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival during the mid-1930s. He would return to Budapest Opera in 1938, with his conducting debut ofLe nozze di Figaro. It would be the same evening that Nazis invaded Austria, and being Jewish, Solti would leave for Switzerland.
While in Switzerland, Solti was unable to get approved for work so he returned to his piano and won the Geneva International Piano Competition. Quickly, he was invited to Munich and became music director of the Staatsoper, where his notorious conducting flair developed and would afford him an opportunity to work with Strauss, leading to a recording contract with Decca that lasted his lifetime.
Solti debuted in America with the San Francisco Opera in 1952 and over the years conducted many significant orchestras across the world such as Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Paris Opera, Orchestre de Paris, and London Philharmonic Orchestra. He also conducted in Salzburg and at Bayreuth.
He brought prestige to Covent Garden through his concert preparation and personality on the podium and introduced over 20 new programmes during his ten-year tenure.
He was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years, premiering many new works, touring across the United States and abroad and making many recordings of Austro-German repertoire.
Sir Georg Solti was knighted in 1971 and adopted British nationality in 1972.
Of his extensive recordings, the first were Beethoven and Mozart violin sonatas with violinist Georg Kulenkampff having Solti on piano. He also recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.