Solti’s last interview: ‘Would you kindly not bring out so much my love of ladies?’

Searching for something else online, I stumbled across an interview I conducted with Solti 19 years ago, the last one of his life. It was the happiest I had ever seen him, the day of his daughter’s engagement, and we spent the whole morning in reckless mood, sharing unbuttoned intimacies.

Sample:

At a recent record industry party, he recalled being lobbied by an American executive who was defending three-minute shellacs against Decca’s long-playing record. Solti heard the man out, then said: “Tell me, what do you prefer – coitus interruptus, or coitus? Myself, I like coitus.”

Read the full, fond interview here.

I cannot believe it’s almost two decades since he has been gone.

solti-late

portrait (c) Robin Del Mar/Lebrecht, 1995

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  • As you may remember, Solti was one of the conductors Karajan invited to conduct the Berlin Phil. at the Salzburg Easter Festival, the others being Eschenbach, Tennstedt, Chailly, Masur and Giulini.

  • Sir George’s life came to an almost perfect end: he conducted the final performances of “Simon Boccanegra” at Covent Garden before the house closed for refurbishment; he visited the village of his ancestors in Hungary for the first and last time; he conducted the orchestra, the Zurich Tönhalle, with which he had made his first orchestral recording (not very happily) in the Mahler 5th. And, most importantly, he never suffered any noteworthy mental or physical decline.

  • Many thanks Norman for posting this. I have so many happy memories of hearing him live, from my very first Festival Hall concert in 1967 right up to a Vienna Phil performance shortly before he died.. Be it in the opera house or the concert hall, it was always an “event” when he conducted – still much missed.

  • Great interview. Thank you Mr Lebrecht for (re)posting it – it brings back memories of some of Solti’s greatest recordings, such as the MIraculous Mandarin, Dance Suite and Concerto for Orchestra – to mention just one among so many other amazing recordings and live concert performances.

  • Great interview. I, too, miss Solti. So exciting to watch on tv (never saw him live). Listened to his Chicago Symphony radio broadcasts religiously, acquired many CSO recordings. Would have loved to hear his take on some of the Nielsen symphonies – especially #4.

    In the interview I found most interesting the part about wanting to merge two London orchestras to make a truly world-class one. I’ve never understood the rationale behind the London model – many orchestras, all playing one-offs, instead of fewer groups doing the conventional 3-4 performances of each program. Doesn’t make any financial sense, unless we’re to believe that London, a 10-million city touted by many as the music capital of the world, really can’t fill a hall more than once for any orchestra/conductor/soloist/program.

  • Solti started conducting at the Proms, nearly always opera, in 1963 and always got a tremendous reception, with people crowding round the artists’ entrance afterwards. Yet at that time there was a gallery claque at Covent Garden vigorously booing him on first nights (they had always heard a better performance, preferably on 78s).

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