2012. január 24., kedd

Georg Solti's 100-Year Birthday Anniversary

UNESCO's Memorial Year Honours Sir Georg Solti

Life of Georg Solti

Georg Solti was one of the finest conductors of the second half of the 20th century and a leading figure of the European and American classical music. He won 32 Grammy awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1996) — more than any other performer in recording history, this is a world record!

Solti was born in 1912 in Budapest, Hungary. His cousin was László Moholy-Nagy painter and photographer, who taught at the Bauhaus in Dessau and co-founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

His mother recognized his musical talent early on and he started learning the piano at the age of six. As a youth, he preferred football to piano lessons but at the age of eight, he committed to the piano. His first teacher would have been either Román or Otto Mosshammer, both of them leading harpists of the Budapest Opera House. In his biography, Solti mentions his hard master but does not name him.

At the age of 14, he decided he wanted to be a conductor after all. Between 1927 and 1931 Solti was a student at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, majoring in piano and composing. There he studied under Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, Leo Weiner and Ernst von Dohnanyi; and Annie Fischer was a schoolmate and friend of his. In 1939, before the German invasion, he fled Hungary and moved to Switzerland.

Georg Solti's career really began after the end of World War II. He worked with virtually all of the biggest orchestras in the world; serving as pianist, music director and conductor. He directed and conducted, inter alia, the Bavarian State Orchestra in Munich; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris and the New York Symphony Orchestra. He led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 20 years and is responsible for elevating it to an excellent ensemble known especially for its recordings.

Solti conducted several compositions that have parts written for harp. For example, he liked Wagner, who used six harpists in his operas; and he conducted Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle many times during his career.

Georg Solti died in 1997 in France. According to his last wish, he rests in Hungarian soil. After a state funeral, he was buried next to Béla Bartók: his one-time tutor and mentor. On his tombstone is engraved: “He arrived home”.

The Mosshammer brothers

Roman Mosshammer (1868-1920) and Otto Mosshammer (1872-1957) were members of the Hungarian Opera House for decades, and they taught at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Although they were Austrian born, they lived a substantial part of their lives in Hungary.

Roman Mosshammer harpist
in Budapest, Hungary

Roman was invited to teach in Budapest by Gustav Mahler in 1889, and sometimes later, his younger brother, Otto joined him.

The young Otto lived in the USA at that time. He was a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the Philadelphia Orchestra; and became a figure used in harp advertising campaigns for Lyon & Healy Style 8 harp model.

They served as leading harpists at the Bayreuth Festival for years and were friends of Richard Wagner’s family.

(Georgina Ammann)

Otto said in an American magazine:

Otto Mosshammer harpist in the USA, in 1893
with new L&H harp model
"I have examined the various new devices in your harps, particularly the new set screw, your improvement in stringing, etc., and also the entirely new mechanism of the action/and in my opinion, it is superior to all others ever made.

The tone is magnificent and of the very best quality for the artist. I am surprised and delighted to find made here in Chicago, the best harp in all respects that I have ever seen.

October 30, 1893.

Yours truly,

Otto L. Mosshammer,
Solo Harpist of the Imperial Court Orchestra,
at Vienna"