Born in Budapest, Solti studied composition and piano at the Budapest Conservatory. He made his professional debut in 1930 with the Budapest Opera. He conducted the ensemble until 1939 when he moved to Switzerland. Solti was also impressed by the works of Arturo Toscanini. He was even more astounded when Toscanini chose him to be his assistant at the Salzburg Festival in 1937. This was one of Solti's major achievements during his years as a conductor and pianist. In 1942 he reached another milestone in his career when he won first prize for piano at the Concours International at Geneva, Switzerland. For ten years, he held the position of Artistic and Music Director of the Frankfurt Opera. From 1961 to 1971 he was the Music Director of the Royal Opera House in London. Following his successful appointment in London, he was knighted and became Sir Georg Solti in 1972.
Traveling the world, Solti did not neglect the United States. He made his U.S. debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 1953. He was first associated with the Chicago Symphony in 1954 at the annual Ravinia Festival. In 1969, he was appointed music director for the Chicago Symphony, a position he held for more than 20 years.
During his career, Solti recorded all of Wagner's works including Ring. He conducted more than 40 operas around the world, among them Arabella, Moses und Aron, and Die Frau ohne Schatten. He began recording in 1947 under the Decca label, but collections and other recordings can also be found under the Unitel label.
The '90s were a slow time for him, as traveling worldwide, performing concerts, and recitals became tiresome. He was the artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival from 1990-1992. In 1992, he performed Othello at Covent Garden in London. Solti made quite a name for himself as a conductor and pianist. With more than six decades of performances and recordings to his credit, Georg Solti will always be one of the greatest conductors of his time. He died September 5, 1997 in Antibes, France. ~ Kim Summers, Rovi
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