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You're answer was perfect
And further to Heck's comment about Szell building a superb orchestra -- The superb 1969 Stravinsky le Sacre du printemps with Pierre Boulez conducting imo is superb in large part because Szell built such a superb orchestra. For me, that Sacre still tops the list, despite subsequent fine versions by Colin Davis and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Michael Tilson-Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, and a number of others.

Ironically, with Szell himself conducting, though the orchestra produced many fine recordings, especially of Mozart and Beethoven, most of them are not indispensable for me. I don't care for his Schumann symphonies, though they are highly praised by many. I prefer Reiner and the CSO for Richard Strauss, and a number of others for Dvorak, good though his versions are. I mentioned his wonderful La Mer and Daphnis above, but Munch is my overall favorite Debussy and Ravel conductor, along with Ansermet and Paray.

But a significant exception to that are his recordings of the late Mozart piano concertos with the great Robert Casadesus. Right up there with the very best ever put on record, standing up to comparison with Clara Haskil, Clifford Curzon, Murray Perahia, or Mitsuko Uchida, to name some other great ones I'm familiar with. Those really are indispensable.
 

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What works that he didn't record do you wish that he had? Knowing what you know about your preferences and his approach, what additional Szell/Cleveland recordings would you will into existence with optimism that you'd find them really enjoyable/interesting?
Great question. In his last season,Szell conducted Das Lied Von Der Erde. It was released-and never seen again-in a Cleveland release. I think it was the 75th Anniversary of Cleveland. There was also a Szell broadcast of Mahler 9. I have that as part of a Szell box from Cleveland Orchestra. I wish both were recorded in studio.
Szell recorded the Tchaikovsky 4&5. There is a broadcast of the 6th. That's another one I would love to have a studio recording.
At the present those are the three pieces that I wish we would have Szell studio recordings.
 

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Obviously this doesn't correct for number of recordings made nor the playlists spotify creates that would direct many 'casual' listeners who want some 'classical music', but for what it's worth here is the popularity of some conductors, including Szell, for Spotify listeners. Monthly listens:

Karajan: 2,617,000
Bernstein: 1,582,000
Abaddo: 1,370,000
Ormandy: 624,000
Davis: 523,000
Bohm: 498,000
Barbirolli: 271,000
Szell: 220,000
Haitink: 177,000
Reiner: 97,000
Wand: 83,000
Furtwangler: 47,000
Celibidache: 33,000
Klemperer: 32,000
Walter: 29,123
Toascanini: 9,600
Wow. Great info. Thank you. It sort of makes sense.
 

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Obviously this doesn't correct for number of recordings made nor the playlists spotify creates that would direct many 'casual' listeners who want some 'classical music', but for what it's worth here is the popularity of some conductors, including Szell, for Spotify listeners. Monthly listens:
Karajan: 2,617,000
..........
Maybe Karajan is like Andre Rieu (no pun intended)
 

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And further to Heck's comment about Szell building a superb orchestra -- The superb 1969 Stravinsky le Sacre du printemps with Pierre Boulez conducting imo is superb in large part because Szell built such a superb orchestra.....
Yes, that Boulez "Le Sacre" is a great recording...it was Szell's band at their best - the balance and precision are so excellent...very important for a work like "Le Sacre". It's one of my top favorites, along with Bernstein/NYPO, Solti/CSO, Mehta/LAPO
 

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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.
 
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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.
 

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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.
Yeah! I love reading about the early days and how both the musicians and patrons of the arts worked to make things happen and build the orchestra and organization, and present numerous concerts.
 

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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.

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Could it be as simple as the divas of his day and he would never have seen eye to eye - can you imagine the battles of wills in the studio!
 

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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.

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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.
 

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It could have been a record company thing as well. Szell was on Epic/Columbia who I believe had the Met Opera contract (at some point I think this went to RCA), and maybe they figured the Met was likely a better prospect for sales than Cleveland.
 

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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),
Musicians are like most people, certainly like professional athletes, in that they like to play for a winning team.
With musicians there are two main priorities when it comes to accepting and/or staying with a job
1. the $$ is good
2. the music is good
3. the best - both $$ and music are good.

Cleveland, at the beginning of the Szell era was definitely a lower scale orchestra, not full-time, and this showed up in its personnel rosters....musicians were always leaving to take other jobs, seasonal gigs, or whatever, lots of in and out, etc.....it was a major step forward to be able to offer full-time employment. Even then the $$ was well below the other major orchestras - NYPO, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago....
but, musicians stayed on, because the music was great.....even in the peak of the Szell era, the pay scale was still below the other majors...but the musicians, who could stand him, liked playing for Szell...so they stayed with it, for years....This provided that stability, consistency which leads to great orchestra playing, given the right leadership....
It's a testament to Szell and the orchestra that musicians remained with the group, even tho the $$ was better elsewhere.
 

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Szell opera/choral performances etc.

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.

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There is an intervention with Szell if he would do any opera recordings. Although there are some opera recordings from Salzburg. And vocal recitals (Mahler-Schwarzkopf).

Paraphrasing. Rudolf Bing was asked if Szell was his own enemy. Bing replied,"Not as long as I am alive."
 

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^^^^

What a great post :tiphat:
Agreed. Heck helps us remember the business and personal sides of a professional symphony orchestra, and the impact they have on the musical side of things. One important trend in the business end of things, that began as far back as the 60s but only got worse in later decades, was the decrease in lucrative freelance work that was an important source of income for many orchestral musicians, especially those in New York and Los Angeles but in other large cities too. Movies, radio and early TV, and even musical theater, all were important sources of income that have diminished over the last 50 years.

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. After starting his career as second flute in Cleveland, Julius Baker was principal in Pittsburgh under Reiner and in Chicago under Kubelik, but then, like many musicians after the war, went to New York, where he was active as a studio musician, including in recordings by the Columbia Symphony, which was the CBS house orchestra.

By this time it was generally acknowledged in the business that Baker the best flute player in the US, certainly better than the longtime NY Phil principal John Wummer, though he was no slouch. Wummer was finally convinced to retire and Baker took the principal position in NY in 1965, at the age of 50.

I don't think that would happen today. Denis Bouriakov, the best flutist in the US if not the world today (imo, with the possible exception of Emmanuel Pahud of the Berlin Philharmonic), took the Met Opera principal position, but when Peter Gelb decided that the band James Levine had built into one of the world's best didn't have to be that good (his own words!) and so didn't have to pay top dollar, Bouriakov left for the LA Philharmonic. Anthony McGill, the best clarinetist in the US and possibly the world today, left the Met Opera for the NY Philharmonic.

In the old days, Bouriakov and McGill likely would have followed the money to New York's lucrative studio work and freelanced, like Baker. But those days are over.
 

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Denis Bouriakov, the best flutist in the US if not the world today (imo, with the possible exception of Emmanuel Pahud of the Berlin Philharmonic), took the Met Opera principal position, but when Peter Gelb decided that the band James Levine had built into one of the world's best didn't have to be that good (his own words!) and so didn't have to pay top dollar, Bouriakov left for the LA Philharmonic. Anthony McGill, the best clarinetist in the US and possibly the world today, left the Met Opera for the NY Philharmonic.
There has been a veritable exodus of woodwind principals from the MetOpera in recent years...it used to have the highest pay scale, tho with lots of services...but many principals left the orchestra...in addition to Bouriakov and McGill:
Steven Williamson - clar - to Chicago
Eugene Izotov - oboe - to Chicago, then LAPO
Whitney Crockett - bssn - LAPO
That's a lot of positions to fill...
 
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