Hungarian-British conductor Georg Solti (1912–97) was Music Director of The Royal Opera 1961–71 and Music Director Laureate from 1992. He was one of the most influential conductors of the late 20th century.
Solti was born in Budapest and studied at the Liszt Academy, where his teachers included Dohnányi, Bartók and Kodály. Toscanini selected him to assist him at the 1936 and 1937 Salzburg Festivals, and Solti made his own conducting debut in 1938 in Budapest with Le nozze di Figaro. During World War II he lived in Switzerland and, legally unable to conduct, returned to the piano and won the 1942 Concours International in Geneva. Post-war positions included Music Director of Bavarian State Opera 1946–52 (where he worked with Richard Strauss) and General Music Director of Frankfurt City Opera 1952–61. He was Music Director of Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1969–81. Other positions included Music Director of Dallas Symphony Orchestra 1960–61 and of Orchestra de Paris 1972–5, and Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra 1979–81; he also founded the World Orchestra for Peace in 1995. His 1958–65 recording of the Ring cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has twice been voted the best recording ever made.
Solti’s celebrated decade at Covent Garden included several Ring cycles, the UK premiere of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron and many new productions of Strauss operas. He led the Company on a highly successful German tour in 1970. He returned to conduct The Royal Opera many times after his departure as Music Director and made his final Royal Opera House appearance at the Farewell Gala in 1997.
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