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By Culturekiosque Staff

NEW YORK, 4 JUNE 2011 — The archive of Sir Georg Solti (1912 - 1997) has been given to Harvard’s Loeb Music Library, the University announced recently from Cambridge, Massachusetts. The collection includes hundreds of musical scores heavily marked for performance and annotated by Solti, one of the 20th century’s most renowned conductors of opera and symphony and winner of more Grammy Awards than any other recording artist in any category.

Rather than mark up a score and reuse it for subsequent performances, Solti approached each performance as if it were new, creating a uniquely marked score. Accumulated through an accomplished career that spanned decades, these scores illustrate how Solti’s thinking progressed, how he solved musical problems, and how he adapted performances to suit a particular context.

"Sir Georg's conducting scores are of special interest and importance to musicians and scholars as they provide insight into the workings of an inspired and accomplished musical mind, laying bare understandings of style, technique, and interpretations of monuments of Western music," said Virginia Danielson, the Richard F. French Librarian of Loeb Music Library. "We are tremendously grateful to the Solti family for this most generous gift, which is so significant to music performance and scholarship."

In keeping with University’s efforts to provide broad access to resources, the Solti gift will enable the collection to be digitized and made available online for scholars and music enthusiasts around the world via Loeb Music’s Digital Scores and Libretti site and the Music Treasures Consortium portal hosted by the Library of Congress. Use of these materials will be promoted through collaborations with agencies such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the British Library, which own related material.

Sir Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Video still: Loeb Music Library, Harvard University

Cataloging and processing of the archive has begun and the Library hopes to make the collection available to scholars and musicians by early next winter.  Much of the work will be accomplished in Harvard College Library’s state-of-the-art audio and digital preservation labs.

The Solti collection joins Loeb Music Library’s already rich Solti resources that include his complete recorded legacy for British Decca Records from 1947 - 1997. These recordings document his collaboration with virtually every significant instrumentalist, singer and orchestra for the last half century.

The library also holds numerous live broadcast recordings from 1937 on, including documentation of Solti’s performances at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera in the 1960s, and video recordings of the maestro in rehearsals and performances made at the apex of his career. In addition, Loeb Music’s print collection widely documents the achievements of his musical contemporaries — from conductors to composers and solo performers — providing rich context for the study of Solti’s work.

Born in 1912 in Budapest, Georg Solti studied piano, composition and conducting with Bartók, Dohnányi, Kodály and Leo Weiner at Budapest’s Liszt Academy. Although he made his concert debut as a pianist, he as soon engaged as a conductor by the Budapest Opera where he was Music Director  from 1934 to 1939. In 1937, Toscanini selected him as his assistant at the Salzburg Festival. Nevertheless, sensing that his professional horizons were limited in Hungary because he was Jewish, Solti sought a visa for the United States. Refused, he settled in Switzerland before the outbreak of World War II where he earned his living as a pianist thanks to a first prize in the Geneva International Piano Competition of 1942.

Following the war in 1946, Solti was invited by the American military government to conduct a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio in Munich. The success of this performance led to his appointment as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera. He became one of the foremost conductors and most influential musicians of the post-war era, conducting every one of the world's major orchestras, and taking on directorships of several major opera houses, including those of Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and most notably, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Sir Georg had long-term relationships with the principal orchestras in London, Vienna and Paris, and  major music festivals in Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Edinburgh and Bayreuth. Most importantly, however, he enjoyed a highly celebrated and artistically fruitful 22-year tenure as Music Director Laureate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra beginning in 1969 where he conducted a total of 999 performances. Recognizing his importance to Chicago, the British-Hungarian maestro once said, "They should erect a statue to me." A bust was sculpted in 1987, and dedicated in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory on the conductor’s 75th birthday. Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930 - 1993) a British artist known for bronze figurative sculptures produced the bust. In 2006, when a new Solti garden was created in Grant Park, the Chicago Park District moved the bust there and placed it on a dark granite base. 

Solti's collaboration with musical institutions throughout the world produced a recorded legacy that encompasses more than 250 recordings, including 45 complete operas. His legendary Wagner "Ring" cycle, recorded between 1958 and 1965 for British Decca, featuring Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, Régine Crespin, Wolfgang Windgassen, Set Svanholm, James King, George London, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Hans Hotter, remains a best seller to this day.

Solti won his first Grammy Award in 1962 for his musical direction of Verdi's Aida with the great American soprano, Leontyne Price. 

The Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard University. The library's general collections include about 69,000 books, 168,765 scores, 104,000 sound recordings, 1,200 visual forms, and nearly 350 periodical titles that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice. In addition, the Isham Memorial Library houses a collection of 5,600 rare books and scores and 31,200 microforms.

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