How Georg Solti freshened up his scores

Solti-at-work-2An online exhibition from Harvard shows how the conductor varied the colours he used in his score markings to show himself how his ideas changed down the years. Even in his sheet for Bear Down Chicago Bears.


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  • There is a funny story about Solti related to scores- one of many.

    During his time at the ROH Covent Garden he was not beloved by certain factions of the orchestra, owing to his mercurial and often downright offensive temperament. The principal horn at the time thought he’d get revenge by means of a little prank.

    As Solti rehearsed Das Rheingold ( in fact it could have been any part of the Ring) with huge score in front of him- the hornist kept on calling out random bar numbers in which he was having problems. Solti obliged by manically flicking through the score to find the correct spots. This went on for several minutes as the ROH players fell into hysterics- fully aware what was going on. When the maestro finally stumbled on the 10th or so bar the errant Cor shouted out ‘Nice bit that ain’t it!’

  • In the 1965 BBC documentary “The Golden Ring”, Solti was interviewed in hist Vienna hotel room while preparing to conduct Gotterdammerung for Decca. At 26:00, he discusses his use of different color pencils, saying that he needed the different colors between recording takes to capture what he learned from the first take and adjust tempi, balance, and expression for the next take.

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