Birth: Apr 9, 1906 in Budapest, Hungary
Death: Nov 13, 1988 in Gerzensee, Switzerland
Conductor Antal Dorati was known for his crisp, rhythmically alert performances and as a highly respected ensemble builder. Both of Dorati's parents were professional musicians, and he learned to play the cello as a child. He also began composition lessons with Leo Weiner when he was just 12, completing three youthful operas before entering the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music at 14. There, he continued to take composition with Weiner, but also from Zoltan Kodaly, and piano with Bela Bartok. The works of the two latter men would become specialties in his conducting career. His first professional position, just after graduating in 1924, was as repetiteur at the Budapest Royal Opera House, where he soon conducted, as well. In 1928, he went to the Dresden Opera to be assistant to Fritz Busch for a year, then was appointed music director in Munster, where he stayed until 1933. Dorati then joined the conducting staff of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. During the 1930s, in addition to his Ballet Russes position, Dorati began guest-conducting in Europe and America. Named music director of the American Ballet Theater in 1941, this was his first opportunity to demonstrate his ability to build an orchestra, quickly establishing a professional ensemble. He did the same to revitalize the Dallas Symphony Orchestra during his 1945-1949 tenure. In 1947 Dorati became an American citizen. Each of his appointments was marked by special achievements for the conductor and orchestra together. With the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1949-1960), he made a number of well-regarded Mercury Living Presence recordings. When he left the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1963 after four years, he was honored with a concert of his compositions. He then took over the Stockholm Philharmonic (1966-1970). With the National Symphony Orchestra (1970-1977) and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra he helped inaugurate new and renovated concert spaces, respectively. In addition, he continued to guest conduct and form close relationships with other orchestras, taking a particular interest in the refugee orchestra, the Philharmonia Hungarica. He eventually recorded all of Haydn's symphonies with that ensemble, and also recorded eight of Haydn's operas with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. Dorati's nearly 600 recordings and his skills brought him many prizes and honors over the years. When he retired, he was able to turn to other creative outlets, such as writing, drawing, and painting.
- Patsy Morita (All Music Guide)
The conductor and composer Antal Dorati was one of the most distinguished musicians of the 20th century.
He was born in Budapest on April 9 1906 and rose to become the youngest ever conductor of the Royal Opera House in his native city soon after graduating at age 18. In 1928 he went to Dresden as assistant to Fritz Busch and subsequently was engaged as conductor at the opera house in Mьnster/Westfalia, where he stayed until 1933. From 1934-1941 he was first second conductor, later music director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and, subsequently, of the American Ballett Theater in New York. His American debut as a symphony conductor came in 1937, when he guest-conducted the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He became an American citizen in 1947. From 1945-1949 Dorati directed and greatly revitalized the Dallas Symphony. He became music director of the Minneapolis Symphony in 1949, where he stayed for 11 years.
In 1963 he was appointed Chief conductor of the BBC Orchestra, a post he held for 4 years. This was followed by a similiar position with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (from 1965-1972). Parallel to his European activities he became music director of the National Symphony in Washington in 1970, followed by the same position 1977 in Detroit. At the same time (since 1975) Antal Dorati accepted the Royal Philharmonic's invitation to become their chief conductor. From 1981 he became "Conductor Laureate" for life of 3 orchestras (RPO London, Stockholm Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony).
Antal Dorati's recording activities commenced in 1936, his total number of recordings reached nearly 600. Many of them won international prices, amongst others 32 "Grand Prix".His most important recording project was the complete recording of the 107 Haydn symphonies and 8 of the composer's operas.
Antal Dorati's influence in the musical world has been highly significant, not only as a conductor. He has an impressive number of compositions to his credit, which are performed worldwide more and more.
His autobiography "Notes of seven decades" was published in 1975. A second book "For inner and outer peace" - a subject which interested him greatly during his last years- was edited after his death in 1988. In this period he also returned to his other talents, which included drawing and painting.
His distinctions included the post of Honorary President of the Philharmonia Hungarica, four honorary doctor degrees, the rank of Chevalier of the order of Vasa of Sweden, the Cross of Honour, 1st class "Artibus et Litteris" of Austria, the order of "Chevalier des Arts et Lettres" de France and others. The Royal Academy of Music in London honoured Antal Dorati by appointing him an Hon.R.A.M. And in 1983 her Majesty the Queen appointed him an Hon. KBE(Knight of the British Empire) in recognition for his service to music in Britain.
Antal Dorati died in his Swiss home in Gerzensee on november 13, 1988.