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: Die Zauberflote / Szell, Della Casa, Kopth, Et Al
Release Date: 09/16/2000   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 455972   Number of Discs: 2
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Liebermann: Penelope / Szell, Goltz, Rothenberger, Schock
Release Date: 10/10/1994   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 328931   Number of Discs: 1
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Liebermann: Die Schule Der Frauen / Szell, Rothenberger, Etc
Release Date: 07/09/1996   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 429962   Number of Discs: 2
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Egk: Irische Legende / Szell, Borkh, Klose, Berry, Et Al
Release Date: 07/24/2001   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 564012   Number of Discs: 2
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Mozart: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail / Szell, Köth, Et Al
Release Date: 10/25/2005   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 652052   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 201-225 of 247 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    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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  • 202.
    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  ... 
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  • 203.
    Prima Voce - Tauber In Opera
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7830 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Jacques Offenbach,  Albert Lortzing,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Tauber,  Lotte Lehmann,  Emmy Bettendorf
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Ernst Hauke,  Hermann Weigert,  Carl Besl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Playhouse Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 204.
    Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream / Szell, Stokowski
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48264 Release Date: 11/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georges Bizet,  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 205.
    Schubert: Symphonies 8 & 9 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48268 Release Date: 11/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 206.
    Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Don Juan / Ormandy, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48272 Release Date: 11/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 207.
    Historic Strauss Interpretations
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90090 Release Date: 06/12/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Arturo Toscanini,  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 208.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos 2 & 4 / Fleisher, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48165 Release Date: 06/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 209.
    Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 7 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48158 Release Date: 06/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 210.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No 1;  Schumann, Mendelssohn / Serkin
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48166 Release Date: 06/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 211.
    Wagner: Orchestral Excerpts / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48175 Release Date: 06/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 212.
    Dinner Classics - Romance
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 48260 Release Date: 04/07/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Frederick Delius,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Rafael Druian,  Pinchas Zukerman
    Conductor:  Louis Lane,  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell,  Andre Kostelanetz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Pops Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 213.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3 / Fleisher, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 47658 Release Date: 01/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 214.
    Brahms: Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 47652 Release Date: 01/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 215.
    Mahler: Symphony No 6
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 47654 Release Date: 01/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 216.
    Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Firebird;  Ravel / Ormandy, Szell
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 47664 Release Date: 01/03/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 217.
    Mozart: 7 Piano Concertos, Rondos / Rudolf Serkin
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47207 Release Date: 10/04/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Peter Serkin
    Conductor:  Alexander Schneider,  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Marlboro Festival Orchestra
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  • 218.
    Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5, Triple Concerto / Fleisher
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46549 Release Date: 08/19/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Eugene Istomin,  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Rose
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 219.
    Beethoven: Symphonies 1 & 6 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46532 Release Date: 08/19/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 220.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9, Etc / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46533 Release Date: 08/19/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Adele Addison,  Donald Bell,  Richard Lewis,  Jane Hobson
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
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  • 221.
    Brahms: Symphony No 1, Etc / George Szell, Eugene Ormandy
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46534 Release Date: 08/19/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 222.
    Mendelssohn: Symphonies 3 & 4, Etc / Szell, Cleveland Orch
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46536 Release Date: 08/19/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 223.
    The Legendary Concerto Recordings 1950-1956 / Rudolf Serkin
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47269 Release Date: 07/26/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
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  • 224.
    Isaac Stern Collection - The Early Concerto Recordings Vol 1
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45952 Release Date: 07/01/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Rose,  Isaac Stern,  Alexander Zakin,  David Oistrakh
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  Eugene Ormandy,  Alexander Hilsberg,  Sir Thomas Beecham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 225.
    Wagner Without Words / George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 46286 Release Date: 07/01/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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