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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
Browse 51-75 of 246 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    George Szell - Salzburg Concert 1957 - Mozart, Debussy, Beethoven, Mendelssohn
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 774083 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Nathan Milstein,  Leon Fleisher
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 52.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No 1, 2 Intermezzos / Curzon, Szell
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417641 Release Date: 10/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Clifford Curzon
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 53.
    Elgar, Dvorak: Cello Concertos / Fournier, Szell, Rosabud
    Label: Medici Masters   Catalog: 28-2 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Pierre Fournier
    Conductor:  Hans Rosbaud,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 54.
    David Oistrakh - The Complete EMI Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 14712 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Karen Khachaturian,  Eugčne Ysa˙e  ... 
    Performer:  Jacov Shapiro,  Joseph Stidel,  Joseph Gertovich,  Mikhail Terian  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicolai Malko,  Aram Khachaturian,  Maxim Shostakovich,  Lovro von Matacic  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 55.
    Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 4;  Beethoven: Egmont / Szell, Lso
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 425972 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Pilar Lorengar
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 56.
    An Hour With Beethoven
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 729169 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  Adele Addison,  Jane Hobson,  Donald Bell  ... 
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Leonard Bernstein,  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Guarneri String Quartet,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 57.
    Bartok: Piano Concerto No 1, Miraculous Mandarin,Etc/Ormandy
    Label: Cbs Masterworks Portrait   Catalog: 46446 Release Date: 06/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Anshel Brusilow
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 58.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 398 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher
    Conductor:  George Szell
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  • 59.
    Kodaly: Hary Janos Suite; Prokofiev: Lt Kije Suite / Szell
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 38527 Release Date: 01/21/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zoltán Kodály,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 60.
    The Essential Leon Fleisher
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 721581 Release Date: 01/15/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Edvard Grieg,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Jaime Laredo,  Joseph Silverstein,  Yo-Yo Ma  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 61.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 20 & 27 / Serkin, Ormandy, Szell
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 26 Release Date: 12/26/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 62.
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Strauss 1929 - 1990
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435335 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Johann Strauss Sr.
    Conductor:  Erich Kleiber,  Clemens Krauss,  George Szell,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 63.
    Festspieldokumente - Salzburger Orchesterkonzerte / Szell
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 704077 Release Date: 10/30/2007   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Clifford Curzon,  Rudolf Firkusny
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $74.49
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  • 64.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos;  Weber: Konzertstuck / Casadesus
    Label: Medici Masters   Catalog: 10-2 Release Date: 10/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Robert Casadesus
    Conductor:  Romanus Hubertus,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 65.
    Best Beethoven 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 97307 Release Date: 07/31/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Eric Heidsieck,  Paul Tortelier,  Stephen Kovacevich,  Siegfried Rudolf Frese  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Riccardo Muti,  Jeffrey Tate  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Nash Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 66.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 23 & 24, K 365 / Casadesus
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 63037 Release Date: 06/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Robert Casadesus,  Gaby Casadesus
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 67.
    Mahler: Symphony No 4;  Mozart: Exsultate, Jubilate / Szell
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 42416 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Judith Raskin
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 68.
    Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9 / Munch, Reiner, Bernstein, Et Al
    Label: Xxi   Catalog: 489 Release Date: 02/26/2007   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Monteux  ... 
    On sale! $65.98
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  • 69.
    Original Masters - Clifford Curzon - Decca Recordings 1944-1970 Vol 4
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000841202 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Clifford Curzon,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Horst Günther,  Julius Patzak  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch,  George Szell,  Benjamin Britten,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $55.98
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  • 70.
    The Great Piano Concertos - Beethoven, Etc / Horowitz
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 4253 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Arturo Toscanini,  George Szell,  Serge Koussevitzky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 71.
    Dvorak: Symphony No 9, Etc / Feuermann, Taube, Szell, Et Al
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2061 Release Date: 01/02/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Emanuel Feuermann
    Conductor:  Michael Taube,  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 72.
    Original Jacket Collection - Mozart / George Szell
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 86793 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Mischa Schneider,  Joseph Roisman,  Boris Kroyt,  George Szell  ... 
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Robert Shaw,  Louis Lane
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest String Quartet members,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus  ... 
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  • 73.
    Ten Top Tenors / Caruso, Roswaenge, Gigli, Tauber, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1005 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Gaetano Donizetti,  E. A. Mario  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Tauber,  Tito Schipa,  Giovanni Martinelli,  Lauritz Melchior  ... 
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Rosario Bourdon,  Walter Rogers,  Lawrence Collingwood  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 74.
    The Christmas Album - Holiday Melodies From Around The World, Recorded 1907-1967
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 63309 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Pierpont,  Albert Périlhou,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Henry Silvern,  Charles Adams Prince,  Charles Gilibert,  Olive Fremstad  ... 
    Conductor:  Lehman Engel,  Alexander Fine,  Arild Edvin Sandvold,  John Finlay Williamson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrigal Singers,  Associated Glee Clubs of America,  Russian Art Choir  ... 
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  • 75.
    Mahler: Symphony No 6 / Szell, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 700813 Release Date: 11/06/2006  
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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