SOLTI ON SOLTI by Georg Solti


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 A behind-some-of-the-scenes look at the life and thoughts of one of the 20th century's greatest conductors. If memoirs are biography lite, then this one is successful indeed. A selective recollection of Sir Georg Solti's rise to musical fame, it's an entertaining if not particularly probing walk through this man's impressive musical life. Solti, who died last month at the age of 84, was born in Hungary but lived much of his life in Switzerland, where he relocated at the beginning of WW II. Solti describes his climb through the ranks, beginning his career as a rÇpÇtiteur, or opera coach. Eventually, through hard work and determination, he became the conductor of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in England and finally of the Chicago Symphony, which he directed for 22 years and where he arguably set a musical standard for professional orchestras that still stands today. The book includes some introspection, such as Solti's admission that early in his career he neglected to really listen to a group before trying to stamp his own personality on it. The book is best when Solti describes his musical philosophies and what it means to be a conductor. Conductors, he writes, ``should always remember our role as interpreters; we are there to serve with the best of our technical abilities the wishes of the composers, who are the creators. The thrill comes when we as interpreters become partners with the composers at the moment the scores comes to life in a performance.'' Conductors and musicians will find Solti's discussion of Beethoven's various symphonies especially illuminating. Unfortunately, these pithy parts are too infrequent, leaving a reader at book's end still wondering exactly what makes Solti tick. An adequate rendering by a man renowned in the musical world for his excellence. (16 pages photos, not seen) (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44596-X
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997


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