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Fritz Reiner (1888 - 1963)


Reiner was born into a mercantile family, although his mother was a keen amateur musician and he himself began to study the piano when he was six, soon showing signs of musical gifts and a highly retentive memory. At the age of ten, he became a pupil at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where he was an active student, taking the solo part in piano concertos and playing percussion in the student orchestra. His teachers included Béla Bartók and Leo Weiner, who encouraged him to think of conducting as a future career. Despite his father’s preference for him to pursue law as a profession, Reiner became a répétiteur at the Budapest Comic Opera, making his conducting debut there when he was 19, with Bizet’s Carmen, in the time-honoured fashion of replacing a sick colleague. Later he said that this was ‘the hardest thing I ever did’. He was appointed as a staff conductor at the Ljubljana Opera House for the 1910–1911 season, where the first conductor was Václav Talich (like Reiner a great admirer of Arthur Nikisch); and in 1911 he secured a position at the Népopera in Budapest, a large-scale private enterprise separate from the Royal Hungarian Opera, whose performances were aimed at a widely-based popular audience. Here Reiner initially conducted operetta and later grand opera, including the first performance of Wagner’s Parsifal in Europe following the expiry of its copyright at the end of 1913.

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Discography


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Shostakovich – Symphony No. 14 - Petrenko



 

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