George Szell

Biography

Born: Jun 7, 1897; Hungary   Died: Jul 29, 1970; USA  
Part of the wave of great Hungarian conductors who took over American musical life just before and after World War II -- the others included Fritz Reiner, Antal Dorati, and Eugene Ormandy -- George Szell quickly transformed a middling Midwestern orchestra into one of the nation's Big Five. His cultivation of the Cleveland Orchestra set an example of discipline and hard work that gradually helped raise the standards of orchestras across Read more America.

Although born in Hungary, Szell was raised in Vienna where he studied composition with Eusebius Mandyczewski, and piano with Richard Robert; he also studied composition in Prague with J.B. Foerster. Szell was a wunderkind, playing a Mozart piano concerto with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra when he was ten, and composing a number of solid chamber and orchestral works in a lush, late Romantic style as a child and teenager. He was 17 when he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a program that included one of his own compositions.

Despite these early successes, Szell rose through the conducting ranks in the traditional way of the period, with a series of opera positions: Royal Opera of Berlin (1915-1917), Strasbourg (1917-1918), Prague (1919-1921), Darmstadt (1921-1922), and Düsseldorf (1922-1924). Szell's first prestigious post came to him in 1924, when he was named first conductor of the Berlin State Opera; he simultaneously served as a professor at Berlin's Hochschule für Musik. In 1929, he moved on to become general music director of the German Opera and Philharmonic in Prague, where he remained until 1937.

Szell began focusing more on orchestral repertory in the 1930s; he made his U.S. debut as guest conductor of the St. Louis Symphony in 1930, and in 1937 he was appointed conductor of the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow, while maintaining a steady relationship with the Residentie Orkest in The Hague. Szell was in America in 1939 when war broke out in Europe; he remained in the U.S. through the war, first depending on guest engagements and then, in 1942, becoming a regular conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was especially praised for his Wagner performances. In 1946 Szell took American citizenship and became music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, a post he held for 24 years. He was also the New York Philharmonic's music advisor and senior guest conductor during the last two years of his life.

Although Szell made a recordings in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s for Decca, and in Cleveland at the end of his life for EMI, the bulk of his substantial discography was the result of his long collaboration with Columbia Records in Cleveland. There, Szell had inherited an able but ordinary orchestra and, through sheer determination, molded it into one of America's finest. A Szell performance was remarkable for its textural clarity, chamber-like balances, and precision of attack and release. He drilled his orchestra mercilessly, even in works it had performed with him not long before. Szell was particularly admired for his performances of Austro-Germanic classics from Haydn to Richard Strauss, his sharp renderings of works by a select group of twentieth century composers including Bartók, Prokofiev, Janácek, and Walton), and his idiomatic way with Dvorák. Indeed, some collectors maintain that Szell's monaural, early 1950s recording of Dvorák's Eighth Symphony with the Concertgebouw Orchestra has never been equaled. His treatment of French composers, on the other hand, was criticized for its lack of atmosphere, and detractors maintained that he achieved precision at the expense of emotional expression. To those who demanded a warmer approach to his beloved Mozart, however, Szell is said to have retorted, "One does not pour chocolate sauce over asparagus." Read less

Mozart: Piano Concertos No 21, 26 / Casadesus, Szell
Release Date: 06/27/1995   Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics  
Catalog: 67178   Number of Discs: 1
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Dvorak: Symphony No 8; Brahms: Symphony No 1 / George Szell
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: Audite  
Catalog: 95625   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 176-200 of 245 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Haydn, Prokofiev: Symphonies / George Szell, Vienna So
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 230901 Release Date: 11/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
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  • 177.
    Grosse Mozartsänger Vol 2 - Opernarien 1949-1960
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 394201 Release Date: 09/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Eberhard Wächter,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Léopold Simoneau  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  George Szell,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 178.
    Haydn: Symphonies Nos 93, 95 & 97 / Szell, Cleveland Orch
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 67175 Release Date: 06/27/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 179.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 21, 26 / Casadesus, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 67178 Release Date: 06/27/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  André Previn,  Robert Casadesus
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 180.
    Mendelssohn - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64595 Release Date: 06/13/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  André Previn,  Elly Ameling,  Rudolf Jansen,  Michie Koyama  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Eugene Ormandy,  Michael Tilson Thomas  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Smithsonian Chamber Players,  L'Archibudelli  ... 
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  • 181.
    Rossini - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64598 Release Date: 06/13/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ottorino Respighi
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  Leo Nucci
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Leonard Bernstein,  George Szell,  Charles Neidich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 182.
    Isaac Stern - A Life In Music - Box I
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 67193 Release Date: 05/16/1995   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Rose,  David Oistrakh,  Eugene Istomin  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Zubin Mehta,  Daniel Barenboim,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra members,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 183.
    Isaac Stern - A Life In Music - Mozart: Violin Concertos 1-5
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66475 Release Date: 05/16/1995   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Isaac Stern
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Alexander Schneider,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra members
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  • 184.
    150 Jahre Weiner Philharmoniker - Erich Kleiber
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90115 Release Date: 02/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Erich Kleiber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 185.
    Die Wiener Philharmoniker Auf Dem Weg Zum Neujahrskonzert
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90139 Release Date: 02/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Carl Michael Ziehrer
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Clemens Krauss,  Bruno Walter,  George Szell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 186.
    Immortal Voices Of The Vienna Opera
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89999 Release Date: 02/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Slezak,  Hilde Konetzni,  Hans Hermann Nissen,  Franz Völker  ... 
    Conductor:  Manfred Gurlitt,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt,  Bruno Seidler-Winkler,  Franz Alfred Schmidt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 187.
    Trumpet - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66702 Release Date: 12/06/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Jean-Baptiste Arban,  Leroy Anderson,  Herbert L. Clarke  ... 
    Performer:  William Vacchiano,  André Previn,  Wynton Marsalis,  Mark Gould  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Donald Hunsberger,  Stanley Black,  Gunther Schuller  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Eastman Wind Ensemble,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 188.
    Violin - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66701 Release Date: 12/06/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Claude Debussy,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Isaac Stern,  Teiko Maehashi,  Jeanne Lamon  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Eugene Ormandy,  Frank Brieff,  Milton Katims  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 189.
    Liebermann: Penelope / Szell, Goltz, Rothenberger, Schock
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 328931 Release Date: 10/10/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rolf Liebermann
    Performer:  Christel Goltz,  Walter Berry,  Kurt Böhme,  Kurt Equiluz  ... 
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 190.
    Bruckner: Symphony No 7 / Szell, Wiener Philharmoniker
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47646 Release Date: 08/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 191.
    Mozart Makes You Smarter
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 66245 Release Date: 08/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  John Williams,  Andreas Haefliger,  Arthur Gold,  Robert Fizdale  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  János Rolla,  George Szell,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  L'Archibudelli,  Franz Liszt Academy Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 192.
    Beethoven - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64052 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Dennis O'Neill,  Gwynne Howell,  Suzanne Murphy,  Carolyn Watkinson  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  George Szell,  Sir Colin Davis,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Chamber Choir,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 193.
    Brahms - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64054 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Emanuel Ax,  Jaime Laredo,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  George Szell,  Andre Kostelanetz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 194.
    Schubert - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64069 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Julius Levine,  Joseph Roisman,  Mischa Schneider,  Boris Kroyt  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Weil,  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy,  Milton Katims  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Classical Band,  Budapest String Quartet members,  Artis String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 195.
    Strauss - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64063 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Josef Strauss
    Conductor:  Lazar Gosman,  Eugene Ormandy,  Stanley Black,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tchaikovsky Chamber Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 196.
    Van Delden: Orchestral Works / Haitink, Jochum, Szell
    Label: Etcetera Records   Catalog: 1156 Release Date: 04/14/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lex Van Delden
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Bernard Haitink,  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
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  • 197.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No 2;  Strauss: Burleske / Serkin
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 53262 Release Date: 10/19/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 198.
    Hindemith: Mathis Der Maler, Etc; Walton  / Ormandy, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 53258 Release Date: 10/19/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Paul Hindemith
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 199.
    Mahler: Symphony No 1, Etc / Mehta, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 53259 Release Date: 10/19/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 200.
    Woody Allen Classics
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 53549 Release Date: 08/24/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Kurt Weill,  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Igor Kipnis,  Renata Scotto,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Kenneth Cooper
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Thomas Schippers,  George Szell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London String Players,  London Symphony Orchestra members,  Juilliard String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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