Fritz Reiner gets busted

reiner bust

Riccardo Muti with Hungarian sculptor Katalin Gerő whose bronze of Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony music director 1953-62, has been inaugurated in the Symphony Center lobby.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • Wasn’t Reiner the conductor who notoriously led his orchestra with a facial expression as if he had just sniffed at a thermometer?

  • During the Reiner era, a photo with his dour expression was prominently displayed on the front of Orchestra Hall. I used to think, “with a face like that, who’d want to buy tickets.” Nonetheless, the CSO’s sound was more balanced under Reiner than under any MD since. His series of R. Strauss recordings is legendary.

  • In his autobiography “A Walk on the Wild Side” Earl Wild tells an amusing story about Reiner. Wild had been engaged as resident pianist at the Pittsburg Symphony at a relatively young age. One week Rachmaninoff was performing his Second Concerto with Reiner conducting. A few bars after starting, Reiner stopped the orchestra, leaned over to Rachmaninoff and asked,” Don’t you think we could take this a little faster?” Rachmaninoff, still in his fur coat as it was cold in the hall, rose slowly from the piano, looked Reiner in the eye and replied in his low, resonant voice, “I wrote this piece!” He then walked slowly offstage, refusing to return to perform with “that” conductor. After discussions with the management, he did perform, but with the Assistant Conductor Vladimir Bakaleinikoff leading the concerto.

    • Another Russian was certainly more than happy to work with Reiner. They did some of their best work together. I’m talking of course of Heifetz.

    • A curious anecdote. Rach’s own two recordings of the 2nd concerto are faster than Reiner’s with Cliburn.

    • The irony in Earl Wild’s anecdote is that Reiner became one of the the major hirer and firer of musicians virtually at will.

  • >