Classical Music Forum banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
From John Culshaw, Szell's English Decca producer:
"Szell had a notorious tongue and a reputation for eating anyone alive who crossed his path. With very few exceptions, orchestral musicians loathed him, although no musician worthy of the name could fault him artistically. On the podium he was incapable of generating warmth. When he died almost all the obituaries could not resist the comment that he did not suffer fools gladly, but it would be nearer the truth to say that he did not suffer fools at all".
https://slippedisc.com/2018/08/was-georg-szell-as-horrid-as-described/
Columbia wanted Szell to record Strauss's Burleske with André Previn, but the two had never met before, so a meeting was arranged while Szell was in LA:

The Cleveland Orchestra Story by Donald Rosenberg said:
Previn arrived at Szell's room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and engaged in small talk. Then Szell said, "Well, let's go through the piece." One problem: the room had no piano. Szell proceeded to tell Previn to play the piece on a table. "Well, I was still young and inexperienced, I suppose, and in awe of the great conductor, so I didn't walk out," recalled Previn. "I sat down and started whacking away at this table." Soon Szell stopped him: "No, no, no. It needs to be faster." He wasn't kidding. Nor, perhaps, was Previn: "Well, maestro, the reason it sounds so slow is that I'm simply not used to this table. My dining room table at home has much better action." With that, Szell dismissed him -- "I don't consider that funny, young man. You may go." -- and the recording was off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
BTW, some of you Szell/Cleveland Orchestra fans may be interested to know that classical music writer and critic, Donald Rosenberg, has written a history of the orchestra entitled Second To None. I have a copy and it's a pretty interesting read.
I just started rereading it the other day! One of the main things you learn is that the pre-Szell era was hardly chopped liver. The orchestra was small, underpaid, and didn't have year-round work (all of which persisted into the Szell era), but even so they took some pretty big swings. Severance Hall opened in 1931, Artur Rodziński became music director in 1933, and from November 1934 to December 1936, the orchestra had this insane run of presenting fully staged opera: Die Walküre, Otello, Tosca, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (that work's American premiere), Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, Die Fledermaus, Parsifal, Tannhäuser, Elektra.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
Why is it Szell never recorded choral or opera works?

I find that interesting considering his style. This repertoire requires the ability to conduct a long legato line, the opposite of stiffness.

.
Good question. Especially because he had Robert Shaw training the chorus. My guess would be it had something to do with the record label?

There is that live Missa solemnis that some folks swear by.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
217 Posts
Many great players, violinist David Nadian for example, spent their careers as studio musicians. Nadian briefly joined the New York Philharmonic as concertmaster, but found it not to his liking and soon returned to the studio.
Since you mention him, this is a real treat:


And to bring it back around he mentions that Szell was the "most helpful" conductor as a concerto accompanist (51:17).
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top