Ferenc Fricsay

(1914–1963) Hungarian musician

Ferenc Fricsay (born Budapest, 9 August 1914; died Basel, 20 February 1963) (pronounced "Ferr-'ens 'Frich-sye") was a Hungarian conductor. From 1960 until his death, he was an Austrian citizen.

Fricsay in 1941

Fricsay was born in Budapest in 1914. His music teachers were Hungary's most famous composers: Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Ernst von Dohnányi. He was only 15 when he conducted his first concert, and he soon became very famous. He became music director of the then newly formed RIAS Symphony Orchestra in Germany in 1949. He was conductor of the Houston Symphony in 1954. He spent much of his time from the 1950s onward in Germany as conductor of the Bavarian State Opera (1956–1958), the RIAS Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Fricsay's family grave.

From the 1950s until his death, he recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon record label. Fricsay gave his last concert on 7 December 1961 in London where he conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. He was often ill during his life, and he died of stomach cancer on 20 February 1963 at the age of 48 in Basel, Switzerland. He was buried in Ermatingen, a village at Lake Constance. His mother Berta died shortly after him and was buried in the same grave.

Fricsay was known for his interpretations of the music of Mozart and Beethoven, as well as that of his teacher Béla Bartók. His 1958 recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is featured in the movie A Clockwork Orange.

Many musicians still think his recordings are among the very best.

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