George Szell
Overview
 
George Szell originally György Széll, György Endre Szél, or Georg Szell, was a Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

-born American conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. He is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director
Music director
A music director may be the director of an orchestra, the director of music for a film, the director of music at a radio station, the head of the music department in a school, the co-ordinator of the musical ensembles in a university or college , the head bandmaster of a military band, the head...

 of the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

, and for the recordings of the standard classical repertoire he made in Cleveland and with other orchestras.

Szell came to Cleveland in 1946 to take over a respected if undersized orchestra, which was struggling to recover from the disruptions of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
George Szell originally György Széll, György Endre Szél, or Georg Szell, was a Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

-born American conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. He is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director
Music director
A music director may be the director of an orchestra, the director of music for a film, the director of music at a radio station, the head of the music department in a school, the co-ordinator of the musical ensembles in a university or college , the head bandmaster of a military band, the head...

 of the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

, and for the recordings of the standard classical repertoire he made in Cleveland and with other orchestras.

Szell came to Cleveland in 1946 to take over a respected if undersized orchestra, which was struggling to recover from the disruptions of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By the time of his death he was credited, to quote the critic Donal Henahan, with having built it into "what many critics regarded as the world's keenest symphonic instrument." Through his recordings, Szell has remained a presence in the classical music world long after his death, and his name remains synonymous with that of the Cleveland Orchestra. While on tour with the Orchestra in the late 1980s, then-Music Director Christoph von Dohnányi
Christoph von Dohnányi
Christoph von Dohnányi is a German conductor of Hungarian ancestry.- Youth and World War II :Dohnányi was born in Berlin, Germany to jurist Hans von Dohnányi and Christine Bonhoeffer. His uncle on his mother's side was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian/ethicist...

 remarked, "We give a great concert, and George Szell gets a great review."

Early career

Szell was born in Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 but grew up in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. He began his formal music training as a pianist, studying with Richard Robert. One of Robert's other students was Rudolf Serkin
Rudolf Serkin
Rudolf Serkin , was a Bohemian-born pianist.-Life and early career:Serkin was born in Eger, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Russian-Jewish family....

; Szell and Serkin became lifelong friends and musical collaborators. In addition to the piano, Szell studied composition with Eusebius Mandyczewski
Eusebius Mandyczewski
Eusebius Mandyczewski was a musicologist, composer, conductor, and teacher. He was an author of numerous musical works and is highly regarded within Austrian, Romanian and Ukrainian music circles.- Family and friends :...

 (a personal friend of Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

), and with Max Reger
Max Reger
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger was a German composer, conductor, pianist, organist, and academic teacher.-Life:...

 for a brief period. Although his work as a composer is virtually unknown today, when he was fourteen Szell signed a ten-year exclusive publishing contract with Universal Edition in Vienna. In addition to writing original pieces, he arranged
Arrangement
The American Federation of Musicians defines arranging as "the art of preparing and adapting an already written composition for presentation in other than its original form. An arrangement may include reharmonization, paraphrasing, and/or development of a composition, so that it fully represents...

 Bedřich Smetana
Bedrich Smetana
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music...

's String Quartet No. 1
String Quartet No. 1 (Smetana)
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, written in 1876, is a four-movement Romantic chamber composition by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.- Background :...

, From My Life, for orchestra.

At age eleven, Szell began touring Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 as a pianist and composer, making his London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 debut at that age. Newspapers declared him "the next Mozart." Throughout his teenage years he performed with orchestras in this dual role, eventually making appearances as composer, pianist and conductor, as he did with the Berlin Philharmonic at age seventeen.
Szell quickly realized that he was never going to make a career out of being a composer or pianist, and that he much preferred the artistic control he could achieve as a conductor. He made an unplanned public conducting debut when he was seventeen, while vacationing with his family at a summer resort. The Vienna Symphony's conductor had injured his arm, and Szell was asked to substitute. Szell quickly turned to conducting full-time. Though he abandoned composing, throughout the rest of his life he occasionally played the piano with chamber ensembles and as an accompanist. Despite his rare appearances as a pianist after his teens, he remained in good form. During his Cleveland years he occasionally would demonstrate to guest pianists how he thought they should play a certain passage.

In 1915, at the age of 18, Szell won an appointment with Berlin's Royal Court Opera (now known as the Staatsoper). There, he was befriended by its Music Director, Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

. Strauss instantly recognized Szell's talent and was particularly impressed with how well the teenager conducted his own music –- Strauss once said that he could die a happy man knowing that there was someone who performed his music so perfectly. In fact, Szell ended up conducting part of the world premiere recording of Don Juan
Don Juan
Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630...

for Strauss. The composer had arranged for Szell to rehearse the orchestra for him, but having overslept, showed up an hour late to the recording session. Since the recording session was already paid for, and only Szell was there, Szell conducted the first half of the recording (since no more than four minutes of music could fit onto one side of a 78, the music was broken up into four sections). Strauss arrived as Szell was finishing conducting the second part; he exclaimed that what he heard was so good that it could go out under his own name. Strauss went on to record the last two parts, leaving the Szell-conducted half as part of the full world premiere recording of Don Juan.

Szell credited Strauss as being a major influence on his conducting style. Much of his baton technique, the Cleveland Orchestra’s lean, transparent sound, and Szell's willingness to be an orchestra builder all came from Strauss. The two remained friends after Szell left the Royal Court Opera in 1919; even after World War II, when Szell had settled in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Strauss kept track of how his protégé was doing.

In the fifteen years during and after World War I Szell worked with opera houses and orchestras in Europe: in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 — where he succeeded Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the leading conductors of the 20th century.-Biography:Otto Klemperer was born in Breslau, Silesia Province, then in Germany...

 at the Municipal Theatre — Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, and Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, before becoming principal conductor, in 1924, of the Berlin Staatsoper, which had replaced the Royal Opera. In 1930, Szell made his United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra based in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1880 by Joseph Otten as the St. Louis Choral Society, the SLSO is the second-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States as it is preceded by the New York Philharmonic.-History:The St...

. At this time he was better known as an opera conductor than an orchestral one.

Move to the U.S.

At the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, Szell was returning via the U.S. from an Australian tour; he ended up settling with his family in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. After spending a year teaching, Szell began to receive frequent guest conducting invitations. Important among these invitations was a series of four concerts with Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory...

’s NBC Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

 in 1941. In 1942 he made his Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 debut; he conducted the company regularly for the next four years. In 1943 he made his New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 debut. In 1946 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

The Cleveland Orchestra: 1946 to 1970

In 1946, Szell was asked to become the Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

. At the time the Cleveland Orchestra was a highly regarded regional American orchestra (the top-tier American orchestras were Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center...

, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1891, the Symphony makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival...

, New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 and NBC Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

). For Szell, working in Cleveland would represent an opportunity to create his own personal ideal orchestra, one which would combine the virtuosity of the best American ensembles, with the homogeneity of tone of the best European orchestras. Szell made it clear to the trustees of the Orchestra that if they wanted him to be their next conductor, they would have to agree to give him total artistic control of the Orchestra; they agreed. He held this post until his death.

The next decade was spent firing musicians, carefully hiring replacements, increasing the orchestra's roster to over one hundred players, and relentlessly drilling the orchestra. Szell's rehearsals were legendary for their intensity. Absolute perfection was demanded from every player. Musicians would be dismissed on the spot for making too many mistakes or simply questioning Szell's authority. Although Szell was not alone in this practice — Toscanini was nothing if not dictatorial — such firings would not happen today: musicians' unions are much stronger now than they were then. If Szell heard a player practicing backstage before a concert and did not like what he heard, he would not hesitate to berate the musician and give detailed notes on how the music should be played, despite the concert being minutes away. Szell’s autocratic style extended to giving suggestions to the Severance Hall
Severance Hall
Severance Hall is a concert hall located in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The hall has been the home of the Cleveland Orchestra since its opening on February 5, 1931...

 janitorial staff on mopping technique and what brand of toilet paper to use in the restrooms.

Szell proudly boasted: "the Cleveland Orchestra gives seven concerts a week and the public is invited to two." Some critics found the Orchestra to sound over-rehearsed in concert, lacking spontaneity. Szell conceded this critique, saying that the orchestra did much of its best work during rehearsals. But Szell's high standards paid off. According to music critic Ted Libbey, "Szell's formidable musicianship and paternal authority commanded equal measures of respect from the Cleveland players, who under his baton achieved what was probably the highest executant standard of any orchestra in the world."

By the end of the 1950s it became clear to the world that the Cleveland Orchestra, noted for its flawless precision and chamber-like sound, had taken its place alongside the greatest orchestras in America and Europe. In addition to taking the Orchestra on annual tours to Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 and the East Coast, Szell led the orchestra on its first international tours to Europe, the Soviet Union, Australia, and Japan.

Conducting style

Szell's manner in rehearsal was that of an autocratic taskmaster. He meticulously prepared for rehearsals and could play the entire score on the piano from memory. Preoccupied with phrasing, transparency, balance and architecture, Szell also insisted upon hitherto unheard-of rhythmic discipline from his players. The result was often a level of precision and ensemble playing normally found only in the best string quartets. For all Szell's absolutist methods, many of the orchestra's players were proud of the musical integrity to which he aspired. Video footage also shows that Szell took care to explain what he wanted and why, expressed delight when the orchestra produced what he was aiming for, and avoided over-rehearsing parts that were in good shape. His left hand, which he used to shape each sound, was often called the most graceful in music.

As a result of Szell's exactitude and very thorough rehearsals, some musicians and critics have criticized Szell's music-making as lacking emotion. In response to such criticism, Szell expressed this credo: "The borderline is very thin between clarity and coolness, self-discipline and severity. There exist different nuances of warmth — from the chaste warmth of Mozart to the sensuous warmth of Tchaikovsky, from the noble passion of Fidelio
Fidelio
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...

to the lascivious passion of Salome
Salome (opera)
Salome is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer....

. I cannot pour chocolate sauce over asparagus." He further stated: "It is perfectly legitimate to prefer the hectic, the arhythmic, the untidy. But to my mind, great artistry is not disorderliness."

He has been described as a "literalist", playing only what is in the score. However, Szell was quite prepared to play music in unconventional ways if he thought the music needed these; and, like most other conductors before and since, he made many small modifications to orchestrations and even notes in the works of Beethoven, Schubert and others. His recordings of the four Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

 symphonies contain alterations to the composer's orchestration.

Repertoire

Szell primarily conducted works from the core Austro-German classical and romantic repertoire, from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, through Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms, and on to Bruckner, Mahler and Strauss. He said once that as he got older he consciously narrowed his repertoire, feeling it was "actually my task to do those works which I thought I'm best qualified to do, and for which a certain tradition is disappearing with the disappearance of the great conductors who were my contemporaries and my idols and my unpaid teachers." He did however program contemporary music; he gave numerous world premieres in Cleveland, and he was particularly associated with such composers as Dutilleux
Henri Dutilleux
Henri Dutilleux is one of the most important French composers of the second half of the 20th century, producing work in the tradition of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Albert Roussel, but in a style distinctly his own...

, Walton
William Walton
Sir William Turner Walton OM was an English composer. During a sixty-year career, he wrote music in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera...

, Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

, Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

 and Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

. Szell also helped initiate the Cleveland Orchestra's long association with composer-conductor and avant-garde icon Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez is a French composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, and a conductor.-Early years:Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music and mathematics...

. At the same time, Szell championed the music of Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

 and Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 in a period when those composers were little represented in concert programs.

Other orchestras

After World War II Szell became closely associated with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, where he was a frequent guest conductor and made a number of recordings. He also regularly appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...

, the Vienna Philharmonic, and at the Salzburg Festival
Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

. From 1942 to 1955, he was an annual guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 and served as Musical Advisor and senior guest conductor of that orchestra in the last year of his life.

Personal life

Szell married twice. The first, in 1920 to Olga Band, ended in divorce in 1926. His second marriage, in 1938 to Helene Schultz Teltsch, originally from Prague, was much happier, and lasted until his death. When not making music, he was a gourmet cook and an automobile enthusiast. He regularly refused the services of the orchestra's chauffeur and drove his own Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

 to rehearsal until almost the end of his life. He died from bone-marrow cancer in Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

 in 1970. His body was cremated, and his ashes were buried, in Atlanta, along with his wife upon her death in 1990.

Discography

Most of Szell's recordings were made with the Cleveland Orchestra for Epic
Epic Records
Epic Records is an American record label, owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Though it was originally conceived as a jazz imprint, it has since expanded to represent various genres. L.A...

/Columbia Masterworks
Columbia Masterworks Records
Columbia Masterworks Records was a record label started in 1927 by Columbia Records.It was intended for releases of classical music and artists, as opposed to popular music, which bore the regular Columbia logo. Masterworks Records' first release, in 1927, was a complete performance of the...

 (now Sony Classical
Sony Classical Records
Sony Classical Records was started in 1927 as Columbia Masterworks Records, a subsidiary of the American Columbia Records. In 1948, it issued the first commercially successful long-playing 12" record...

). He also made recordings with the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Few of his mono recordings have been reissued. Many live stereo recordings of repertoire Szell never conducted in the studio exist, both with the Cleveland Orchestra and other orchestras.

Below is a selection of Szell's more notable recordings — all with Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra (issued by Sony, unless otherwise noted).
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

:
  • The 9 Symphonies (1957–64)
  • The Piano Concertos; Leon Fleisher
    Leon Fleisher
    Leon Fleisher is an American pianist and conductor.-Early life and studies:Fleisher was born in San Francisco, where he started studying the piano at age four...

     (p) (1959–61)
  • The Piano Concertos; Emil Gilels
    Emil Gilels
    Emil Grigoryevich Gilels was a Soviet pianist, widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.His last name is sometimes transliterated Hilels.-Biography:...

     (p) (1968, EMI)
  • Missa Solemnis
    Missa Solemnis (Beethoven)
    The Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven from 1819-1823. It was first performed on April 7, 1824 in St. Petersburg, under the auspices of Beethoven's patron Prince Nikolai Galitzin; an incomplete performance was given in Vienna on 7 May 1824, when the Kyrie,...

    (1967, TCO)

Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

:
  • The 4 Symphonies (1964–67)
  • Piano Concertos; Leon Fleisher (p) (1958 & 1962)
  • Piano Concertos; Rudolf Serkin
    Rudolf Serkin
    Rudolf Serkin , was a Bohemian-born pianist.-Life and early career:Serkin was born in Eger, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Russian-Jewish family....

     (p) (1968 & 1966)
  • Violin Concerto
    Violin Concerto (Brahms)
    Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 is a violin concerto in three movements composed by Johannes Brahms in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim...

    ; David Oistrakh
    David Oistrakh
    David Fyodorovich Oistrakh , , David Fiodorović Ojstrakh, ; – October 24, 1974, was a Soviet violinist....

     (vn) (1969, EMI)
  • Concerto for violin and violoncello
    Double Concerto (Brahms)
    The Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms is a concerto for violin, cello and orchestra.- Origin of the work :The Double Concerto was Brahms' final work for orchestra. It was composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on 18 October of that year in the Gürzenich in Köln,...

    ; David Oistrakh (vn), Mstislav Rostropovich
    Mstislav Rostropovich
    Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE , known to close friends as Slava, was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of...

     (vc) (1969, EMI)

Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

:
  • Symphony No. 3
    Symphony No. 3 (Bruckner)
    Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor was dedicated to Richard Wagner and is sometimes known as his "Wagner Symphony". It was written in 1873, revised in 1877 and again in 1891....

     (1966)
  • Symphony No. 8
    Symphony No. 8 (Bruckner)
    Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 in C minor is the last Symphony the composer completed. It exists in two major versions of 1887 and 1890. It was premiered under conductor Hans Richter in 1892 in Vienna...

     (1969)

Antonín Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

:
  • Symphonies Nos. 7-9 (1958–60)
  • Slavonic Dances
    Slavonic Dances
    The Slavonic Dances are a series of 16 orchestral pieces composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1878 and 1886 and published in two sets as Opus 46 and Opus 72 respectively. Originally written for piano four hands, the Slavonic Dances were inspired by Johannes Brahms's own Hungarian Dances and were...

     (1962–65)
  • Cello Concerto
    Cello Concerto (Dvorák)
    The Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, by Antonín Dvořák was the composer's last solo concerto, and was written in 1894–1895 for his friend, the cellist Hanuš Wihan, but premiered by the English cellist Leo Stern.- Structure :...

    ; Pablo Casals
    Pablo Casals
    Pau Casals i Defilló , known during his professional career as Pablo Casals, was a Spanish Catalan cellist and conductor. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time...

    (vc) / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
    Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
    The Česká filharmonie is a symphony orchestra based in Prague and is the best-known and most respected orchestra in the Czech Republic.- History :...

     
    (1937, HMV)
  • Cello Concerto; Pierre Fournier
    Pierre Fournier
    Pierre Fournier was a French cellist who was called the "aristocrat of cellists," on account of his elegant musicianship and majestic sound....

    (vc) / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    The Berlin Philharmonic, German: , formerly Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester , is an orchestra based in Berlin, Germany. In 2006, a group of ten European media outlets voted the Berlin Philharmonic number three on a list of "top ten European Orchestras", after the Vienna Philharmonic and the...

     
    (1962, DG)

Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

:
  • Symphonies Nos. 92-99 (1957–69)

Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály was a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, pedagogue, linguist, and philosopher. He is best known internationally as the creator of the Kodály Method.-Life:Born in Kecskemét, Kodály learned to play the violin as a child....

:
  • Háry János
    Háry János
    Háry János is a "Hungarian folk opera" in four acts by Zoltán Kodály to a Hungarian libretto by Béla Paulini and Zsolt Harsányi, based on the comic epic The Veteran by János Garay. The first performance was at the Royal Hungarian Opera House, Budapest, 1926...

    Suite (1969)

Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

:
  • Symphony No. 4
    Symphony No. 4 (Mahler)
    The Symphony No. 4 by Gustav Mahler was written between 1899 and 1901, though it incorporates a song originally written in 1892. The song, "Das himmlische Leben", presents a child's vision of Heaven. It is sung by a soprano in the work's fourth and last movement...

    ; Judith Raskin
    Judith Raskin
    Judith Raskin was an American lyric soprano, renowned for her fine voice as well as her acting.Raskin was born in New York to Harry A. Raskin, a high school music teacher, and Lillian Raskin, a grade school teacher. Her father aroused her childhood interest in music, leading her to study violin...

     (sop) (1965)
  • Symphony No. 6
    Symphony No. 6 (Mahler)
    The Symphony No. 6 in A minor by Gustav Mahler, sometimes referred to as the Tragische , was composed between 1903 and 1904 . The work's first performance was in Essen, on May 27, 1906, conducted by the composer.The tragic, even nihilistic ending of No...

     (1967)
  • Symphony No. 10 (Adagio only)
    Symphony No. 10 (Mahler)
    The Symphony No. 10 by Gustav Mahler was written in the summer of 1910, and was his final composition. At the time of Mahler's death the composition was substantially complete in the form of a continuous draft; but not being fully elaborated at every point, and mostly not orchestrated, it was not...

     (1958)
  • Des Knaben Wunderhorn
    Des Knaben Wunderhorn
    Des Knaben Wunderhorn is a collection of German folk poems edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, and published in Heidelberg, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, between 1805 and 1808...

    ; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, DBE was a German-born Austrian/British soprano opera singer and recitalist. She was among the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, much admired for her performances of Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, and Wolf.-Early life:Olga Maria Elisabeth Friederike...

     (sop), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is a retired German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music, one of the most famous lieder performers of the post-war period and "one of the supreme vocal artists of the 20th century"...

    (bar) / London Symphony Orchestra
    London Symphony Orchestra
    The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...

     (1968, EMI)

Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

:
  • Symphony No. 4
    Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn)
    The Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, commonly known as the Italian, is an orchestral symphony written by German composer Felix Mendelssohn ....

     (1962)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, Overture and Incidental Music (1967)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

:
  • Symphonies Nos. 35, 39-41 (1960–63)
  • Eine kleine Nachtmusik
    Eine kleine Nachtmusik
    The Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, K. 525 was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1787. The work is more commonly known by the title Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The German title means "a little serenade", though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as "a little night music"...

    (Serenade K. 525) (1968)
  • Piano Concertos
    Mozart piano concertos
    The Mozart piano concertos refer to the 27 concertos for piano and orchestra written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These works, many of which Mozart composed for himself to play in the Vienna concert series of 1784–86, held a special place for him; indeed, Mozart's father apparently interrupted him...

    ; Robert Casadesus
    Robert Casadesus
    Robert Casadesus was a renowned 20th-century French pianist and composer. He was the most prominent member of a famous musical family, being the nephew of Henri Casadesus and Marius Casadesus, husband of Gaby Casadesus, and father of Jean Casadesus.-Biography:Robert Casadesus was born in Paris...

     (p) (1955–68)

       Szell as pianist:
  • Piano Quartets Nos. 1
    Piano Quartet No. 1 (Mozart)
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478, is considered the first major piece composed for piano quartet in the chamber music repertoire.-Composition and reception:...

    -2
    Piano Quartet No. 2 (Mozart)
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 493, was written after Franz Anton Hoffmeister released Mozart from the obligation of writing three piano quartets.-Composition and reception:...

    ; Budapest String Quartet, Szell (p) (1946)
  • Violin Sonatas, K. 301 & 296; Raphael Druian (vn), Szell (p) (1967)

Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

:
  • Pictures at an Exhibition
    Pictures at an Exhibition
    Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite in ten movements composed for piano by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.The suite is Mussorgsky's most famous piano composition, and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists...

    (1963)

Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

:
  • Symphony No. 5
    Symphony No. 5 (Prokofiev)
    Sergei Prokofiev wrote his Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major in Soviet Russia in one month in the summer of 1944.-Background:Fourteen years had passed since Prokofiev's last symphony....

     (1959)
  • Piano Concertos Nos. 1
    Piano Concerto No. 1 (Prokofiev)
    Sergei Prokofiev set about composing his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major, Op. 10 in 1911 and finished it in 1912. A one-movement concerto, it is the shortest of his five complete piano concertos, lasting only around a quarter of an hour.- Structure :...

     & 3
    Piano Concerto No. 3 (Prokofiev)
    Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26 is the best-known concerto by Sergei Prokofiev. It was completed in 1921 using sketches first started in 1913.-Composition and performances:...

    ; Gary Graffman
    Gary Graffman
    Gary Graffman is an American classical pianist, teacher of piano and music administrator.Graffman was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish parents. Having started piano at age 3, Graffman entered the Curtis Institute of Music at age 7 in 1936 as a piano student of Isabelle Vengerova...

     (p) (1966)

Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

:
  • Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished"
    Symphony No. 8 (Schubert)
    Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor , commonly known as the "Unfinished Symphony" , D.759, was started in 1822 but left with only two movements known to be complete, even though Schubert would live for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages...

     (1957)
  • Symphony No. 9 "The Great"
    Symphony No. 9 (Schubert)
    The Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, known as the Great , is the final symphony completed by Franz Schubert. Nicknamed The Great C major originally to distinguish it from his Symphony No...

     (1957)

Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

:
  • The 4 Symphonies (1958–60)

Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

:
  • Symphony No.2
    Symphony No. 2 (Sibelius)
    Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43 was started in Winter 1900 in Rapallo, Italy, and finished in 1902 in Finland. It was first performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on 8 March 1902, with the composer conducting...

    ; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    (1964, Philips)
  • Symphony No.2 (1970) – Live concert in Tokyo, Japan, Szell's last recording.

Bedřich Smetana
Bedrich Smetana
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music...

:
  • The Moldau
    Vltava
    The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic, running north from its source in Šumava through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice, and Prague, merging with the Elbe at Mělník...

    / New York Philharmonic
    New York Philharmonic
    The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

     (1951/2007 United Archives)
  • Four Dances from the Bartered Bride (19??)

Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

:
  • Don Juan
    Don Juan (Strauss)
    Don Juan, Op. 20 is a tone poem for large orchestra by the German composer Richard Strauss, written in 1888. The composer conducted its premiere on 11 November 1889 with the orchestra of the Weimar Opera, where he served as Court Kapellmeister....

    (1957)
  • Don Quixote
    Don Quixote (Strauss)
    Don Quixote, Op. 35, is a composition by Richard Strauss for cello, viola and large orchestra. Subtitled Phantastische Variationen über ein Thema ritterlichen Charakters , the work is based on the novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. Strauss composed this work in Munich in 1897...

    ; Pierre Fournier
    Pierre Fournier
    Pierre Fournier was a French cellist who was called the "aristocrat of cellists," on account of his elegant musicianship and majestic sound....

     (vc), Abraham Skernick (va) (1960)
  • Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1957)
  • Tod und Verklärung (1957)
  • Four Last Songs
    Four Last Songs
    The Four Last Songs for soprano and orchestra were the final completed works of Richard Strauss, composed in 1948 when the composer was 84. Strauss did not live to hear the premiere, given at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 May 1950 by the soprano Kirsten Flagstad accompanied by the...

    ; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (S) / Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin is an orchestra based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1946 by American occupation forces as the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester . It was also known as the American Sector Symphony Orchestra...

     (1965, EMI)

Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

:
  • The Firebird
    The Firebird
    The Firebird is a 1910 ballet created by the composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Michel Fokine. The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captor....

    Suite (1919 version) (1961)

Pyotr Tchaikovsky:
  • Symphony No. 4
    Symphony No. 4 (Tchaikovsky)
    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, was written between 1877 and 1878. The symphony's first performance was at a Russian Musical Society concert in Saint Petersburg on February 10 /February 22 1878, with Nikolai Rubinstein as conductor.- Form :The symphony is in four...

    ; London Symphony Orchestra (1962, Decca)
  • Symphony No. 5
    Symphony No. 5 (Tchaikovsky)
    The Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was composed between May and August 1888 and was first performed in St Petersburg at the Hall of Nobility on November 6 of that year with Tchaikovsky conducting. It is dedicated to Theodore Avé-Lallemant.-Structure:A typical...

     (1959)
  • Capriccio Italien
    Capriccio Italien
    The Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, is a fantasy for orchestra composed between January and May of 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.The Capriccio was inspired by a trip Tchaikovsky took to Rome, during which he saw the Carnival in full swing, and is reminiscent of Italian folk music and street songs...

    , Op. 45 ; Cleveland Orchestra (1958)

Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

:
  • Overtures, Preludes & Extracts from The Ring
    Der Ring des Nibelungen
    Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

    (1962–68)

William Walton
William Walton
Sir William Turner Walton OM was an English composer. During a sixty-year career, he wrote music in several classical genres and styles, from film scores to opera...

:
  • Symphony No. 2 "Liverpool"
    Symphony No. 2 (Walton)
    The Symphony No. 2, composed by English composer William Walton, was commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society to celebrate the city's 750th anniversary in 1957...

     (1961)
  • Partita for Orchestra (1959)
  • Variations on Theme by Hindemith
    Paul Hindemith
    Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

     (1964)


External links

  • George Szell fansite
  • George Szell discography
  • http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=vXCD5Cuum6cVideo of Szell rehearsing the 2nd movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
    Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
    The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

    ]
  • European archive Copyright free LP recording of Brahms 3rd symphony by George Szell (conductor) and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra at the European Archive (for non-American viewers only).
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