Sir Georg Solti, 1912-1997, Hungarian conductor, after WWII a German citizen, and from 1972 a citizen of Great Britain. In the first years he was connected to the Budapest Opera, and after the war became famous as an opera conductor (Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna, Covent Garden). For 22 years (1969-1991) he directed the Chicago Orchestra, which he re-instituted as one of the leading symphonic ensembles of the world. He commanded an immense repertoire, and gave several world premieres. On September 29, 1983, he lead the Chicago Orchestra in the first performance of Witold Lutosławski's Symphony no. 3.
The Orchestra requested a composition from Witold Lutosławski as early as 1972, and renewed it two years later. Work on the composition lasted over eight years and resulted in one of Lutosławski's greatest masterworks. The score is dedicated to Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Orchestra. In a conversation with Zofia Owińska the composer relates his meeting with the conductor:
"I found myself in London, where Solti was giving a concert. For the first time in my life I went to hear the conductor, who was to perform my new symphony. I was introduced to him by the director of the time, Chester. Solti was very happy to see me and not knowing about the commission, said:
- Would you compose something for our orchestra in Chicago?
- Maestro, I happen to be writing a symphony commissioned by your orchestra.
- Oh, really - he said joyfully, and immediately swore to perform this very composition at the opening of the season".
Lutosławski admitted: "His rendering was not a hundred percent to my satisfaction, but it had great advantages, because he was a world-class conductor". The concert was broadcast in most of the Western European countries and contributed to the rapid popularization of the Symphony no. 3. (kt/mk)