“The conductor’s great task is to make his very complex human instrument serve the cause of music.”
Fritz Reiner was internationally known as one of the outstanding conductors of his time. Born in Budapest in 1888, he enjoyed his musical education there at the Academy of Music. At the age of 23, he became conductor of the Budapest People's Opera and two years later was appointed chief conductor of the Royal Opera in Dresden; during this time he collaborated with Richard Strauss on productions of his early operas and conducted the German premiere of "Die Frau ohne Schatten". In 1922 Reiner became principal conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; nine years later he went to Philadelphia to the Curtis Institute of Music to head their orchestral department. After a decade (1938-48) as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Reiner became director of the Metropolitan Opera. Then in 1953, he became music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which he turned into one of the finest ensembles in the world. Poor health forced him to give up this position in 1962, and he died the following year. Reiner was not only an exceptional orchestral educator, but he was known for his broad repertoire of both symphonic and operatic works. He was equally the master of the delicately balanced sonorities of Mozart and the massive richness of Richard Strauss; he championed 20th-century contemporary music, and his sweeping melodic renderings of Johann Strauss waltzes were unparalleled.