Artur Rodzinski

Born January 1, 1892; Spalato, Dalmatia
Died November 27, 1958; Boston, Massachusetts

Artur Rodzinski studied jurisprudence at the University of Vienna, piano with Emil Sauer, composition with Franz Schreker and conducting with Franz Schalk. He served in the Austrian army, and, upon his discharge, resumed a career in music, becoming a choral and opera conductor in Lvov, Poland. In 1926, Rodzinski was appointed assistant to Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra and concurrently led the opera and orchestra departments at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Rodzinski began his tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1929, and, after four seasons, he became music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. While in Cleveland, he pioneered the idea of concert opera, and in 1935, he led the U.S. premiere of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The following year, Rodzinski was invited by Arturo Toscanini to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, and in 1937, Toscanini commissioned him to organize the NBC Orchestra. These successes led to his appointment as music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1943, but his volatile personality caused difficulties with management, and he resigned in February 1947.

In June 1938, Rodzinski made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival, and he led extended residencies there nearly every season through 1945. In 1942, he had been the Orchestral Association’s choice to succeed Frederick Stock as music director, however, his position in New York prevented him from accepting. After Désiré Defauw’s departure in 1947, Rodzinski was quickly appointed as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s fourth music director.

The highlight of Rodzinski’s brief tenure was a full-scale performance of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde with Kirsten Flagstad and Set Svanholm at the Civic Opera House in December 1947. Despite the success, the cost of producing opera was too much of a sacrifice to the Orchestra's traditional concert schedule, and conflicts between Rodzinski and management quickly developed. His contract was not renewed for the following season.