Fritz Reiner

Fritz Reiner

MUSIC DIRECTOR (1953–1962)

Fritz Reiner studied at the music academy in Budapest. His conducting debut was sudden — when the staff conductor at the Budapest Opera was taken ill, Reiner (then its young rehearsal coach) was thrust onto the podium to direct that evening's performance of Bizet's Carmen. His full command of the situation subsequently led to his appointment was first conductor at the Laibach (now Ljubljana) National Opera.

Reiner came to the United States in 1922 and became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, where he remained until 1931. In the 1934–1935 season, Reiner organized the Philadelphia Opera Association and became its chief conductor. In 1938 he accepted the post of music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, where he would remain for 10 seasons until becoming principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera.

Fritz Reiner was no stranger to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he became its music director in 1953. Under his leadership, the Orchestra made several landmark recordings for RCA including Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky. In 1957, Reiner invited Margaret Hillis to form the Chicago Symphony Chorus, which became the first permanent choral ensemble in the United States to be affiliated with a major symphony orchestra.

Fritz Reiner died on November 15, 1963, at the age of 74.