George Szell was the Cleveland Orchestra’s towering presence for over a quarter of a century. From the boardroom to the stage, Szell’s powerful personality affected every aspect of a musical institution he reshaped in his own perfectionist image.
Marcia Hansen Kraus’s participation in Cleveland’s classical music scene allowed her an intimate view of Szell and his achievements. A musician herself, and married to an oboist who worked under Szell, Kraus pulls back the curtain on this storied era through fascinating interviews with orchestra musicians and patrons. Their recollections combine with Kraus’s own to paint a portrait of a multifaceted individual who both earned and transcended his tyrannical reputation. If some musicians hated Szell, others loved him or at the least respected his fair-minded toughness. A great many remember playing under his difficult leadership as the high point in their professional lives.
Filled with vivid backstage stories, George Szell’s Reign reveals the human side of a great orchestra—and how one visionary built a premier classical music institution.