One of the great music makers of our time has written a memoir as rich in event and adventure as it is in its reflections on, and insights into, music. Sir Georg Solti, in these pages, relives an unparalleled musical life. He tells the story of a musical education that began in his native Budapest when his mother recognized and helped foster his talent. It continued with his studies at the rigorous Liszt Academy with Dohnányi, Kodály, Bartók, and Weiner, and a performance he heard of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, conducted by Erich Kleiber, that forever set his destiny. He recounts his prewar experience coaching opera in Budapest, his exile in Zurich during World War II, and his work as music director of the Bavarian State Opera and life in postwar Munich. He then moves on to similar posts in Frankfurt and in London at Covent Garden. We watch as he continues his journey through the top ranks of the musical world and becomes, in 1969, director of the Chicago Symphony, a post he holds with brilliance and renown for twenty-two years. We follow him from 1991 on as he pursues for the first time the challenges and joys of the freelance conductor, working in Salzburg, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, New York, and St. Petersburg. Solti expresses his feelings and thoughts about Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, and other great composers. He writes about conducting, and about Wagner's Ring cycle as well as operas by Mozart and Verdi, and symphonies by Mahler, Beethoven, and Bruckner. We see him continuously developing as an artist, constantly probing the composer's intentions: He describes how he found new insights into Beethoven's Ninth Symphony upon returning to it after many years, and how he approached new recordings of the Mozart operas and Wagner's Die Meistersinger ("This time I would come to it with my heart as well as my head ). His memoirs are filled with both hilarious and touching scenes of rehearsal and performance, as well as with stories of musical controversies. He speaks about the great musicians he has worked with, among them Toscanini, Walter, Furtwängler, Klemperer, Nilsson, Hotter, Domingo, and Rostropovich. Throughout, he reveals the pleasure of interpreting the composer's design, and the satisfying act of making a score come to life. Writing these memoirs, Solti has created yet another splendid musical event.
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