PAST CONDUCTORS RECORDINGS: FIRST, LAST & BEST – LETTER S

First, Last and one of the best (in my opinion) recordings of main conductors from the past - One page per letter. Corrections are welcome. It is a work in progress.

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Victor de Sabata (1892-1967)
Forgotten as a composer. Tyrannical personality on the podium, more celeb in opera. His 1953 Tosca remains one of the most famous opera recordings.
his first recording was Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration (1930). 

First Best Last



Paul Sacher (1906-1999)
A swiss conductor and patron. Began conducting in 1926, founding at the same time the Basel Chamber Orchestra.
Began recording in 1930 (Praetorius & Bach). On of his last ones was Henze musics for DGG. He recorded Stravinsky’s violin concerto with Mutter.

First Best Last


Kurt Sanderling (1912-2011)
Until the wall fall, conducted mainly in the East. Philippe Entremont told me he was the best conductor he had to play with and he played with so many. His complete Sibelius symphonies are still acclaimed. 
One of his first recordings was Rachmaninoff’s 1st piano concerto with S. Richter (1955). One of his last ones was Bruckner’s Symphony n° 7.

First Best Last


Malcom Sargent (1895-1967)
A pianist and organist in his youth, even played Rachmaninoff’s 1st piano concerto under Boult. Can’t resist to put this sleeve on the left. One of his first recordings was Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto with Arthur Schnabel (1938).

One of his last ones was Walton’s 1st symphony. He recorded a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan…

 

 

First Best Last


Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013)
Began the piano at 5 and remained an appreciated accompanist (gave pianos recitals with Kubelík). 
His first recording was Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano concerto with Conrad Hansen (1953). He recorded Schubert’s chorus and masses with the Bavarian Radio chorus.

First Best Last



Herman Scherchen (1891-1966)
First a viola layer, his first concert as a conductor was with the Berlin Philharmonic, and the same year – 1911 – prepared Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire for performances with the composer. A champion of modern music, he was also famous for his Bach transcriptions readings. His Beethoven interpretations have been praised. One of his numerous recordings was Mahler’s 8th symphony in 1951. On of his last ones was Offenbach’s overtures… (1965). He created Déserts by Varèse in 1954.

First Best Last



Thomas Schippers (1930-1977)
First a pianist and organist. Active in both symphonic and operatic fields. HIs first recording was the creation of the first opera for TV:  Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (1954). One of his last ones was a Richard Strauss program.

First Best Last



Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt (1900-1973)
First a violinist. The British occupation asked him to form the Nordwest Deutsche Rundfunk Symphony orchestra in Hamburg in 1945 which he will conduct until 1971. On of his first LPs was Stravinsky’s Capricio with Monique Haas. His last one was Brahms’ 1st piano concerto with Alfred Brendel. His complete Beethoven symphonies in Vienna remain famous.

First Best Last



Carl Schuricht (1880-1967)
Conducted modern music in his youth but then specialized in classical and romantic repertoire. On of his first recordings was Beethoven’s 5th symphony in Paris (1949). His last one may be Bruckner’s 8th symphony in Vienna.

First Best Last


Claudio Scimone (1934-2018)
Founded in 1959 I Solisti Veneti, performing music from Italian baroque masters, though many contemporary composers dedicated pieces to him. his first recording was Verdi’s  quartet (1963).

First Best Last


Karel Šejna (1896-1982)
He conducted mainly Czech music. One of his first recordings was Mahler’s 4th symphony (1951). One of his last ones, favorite Czech musics program (1980).

First Best Last


Tullio Serafin (1878-1968)
First a violinist in La Scala orchestra, he will conduct mainly opera.
His first recording was Verdi’s Aida (1951), one of his last Il Trovatore. His Otello recording remains famous.

First Best Last



Constantin Silvestri (1913-1969)
This Romanian conductor was firstly a pianist and a composer. He left Romania in 1957 and was appointed principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra (1961-9). An impressive conductor who often arranged scores. 
His first recording was Mozart’s Symphony n° 27 in Prague (1953) * See the interesting comment at the end of the page). One of his last may be Shostakovitch’s 5th symphony in Vienna.

First Best Last



Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)
Began composing at the age of 5. Wounded, had to give up a pianist career. After conducting in Poland, joined the Minneapolis Symphony orchestra in the 60s.
His first recording was a Schubert program (1960).  His last one Bruckner’s 3rd symphony live in London (2015). e recorded Chopin’s works for piano and orchestra with Alexis Weissenberg.

First Best Last



Václav Smetáček (1906-1986)
After studying violin, viola, became a oboist. Made around 300 recordings, mainly in Czechoslovakia. 
One of his first LPs was a Chopin concerto (1952). A last one was dedicated to music by Josef Bohuslav Foerster. Besides Czech music, he was a very good Rimsky-Korsakov’s music interpreter. After studying violin, viola, became a oboist. Made around 300 recordings, mainly in Czechoslovakia. 
One of his first LPs was a Chopin concerto (1952). A last one was dedicated to music by Josef Bohuslav Foerster. Besides Czech music, he was a very good Rimsky-Korsakov’s music interpreter.

First Best Last


Georg Solti (1923-1997)
(György Stern) This Hungarian born conductor was firstly a pianist. During the War, he had been invited by Toscanini to assist him for the Lucerne festival, along with Bruno Walter and Adolf Busch. Took over the Chicago Symphony orchestra in 1969 (with Giulini at the beginning).  His first LP was Haydn’s 103rd symphony. His last one was a Renée Fleming recital. He was famous for his Wagner’s Ring in Vienna. I’m a Kubelík fan in Mahler but always liked Solti’s Mahler 1rst symphony (first version) which I acquired in my youth.

First Best Last



Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Studied violin and piano and became for sometime organist in London. After Cincinnati, he took over the Philadelphia from 1912 to 1936. He was celeb for the sound he could produce with an orchestra and for his many creations. Began recording in 1912… (“Festival at Bagdad”…). One of his last ones may be Sibelius’ 1st symphony. His Rimsky-Korsakov’s Easter Overture is irresistible.

First Best Last



Otmar Suitner (1922-2010)
First a pianist, conducted worldwide, both in opera and symphony. One of his first recordings was Grieg’s Peer Gynt (1953). He was an appreciated Wagnerian conductor.

First Best Last



Walter Susskind (1913-1980)
First a pianist, he was Born in Prague. Conducted in Great Britain then in the US.
One of his first recording was Liszt’s 2nd piano concerto with Witold Malcuzynsky (1949). One of his last ones was Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. He was appreciated for his Central Europe musics interpretations.

First Best Last


Evgeny Svetlanov (1928-2002)
For me the best Russian conductor, he was also a talented pianist and a composer (traditional). Recorded almost all the Russian repertoire. his first recording in 1958 was an opera by Alexandre Dargomyjski. His Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy remains an experience. He did for me the best complete symphonies by Tchaikovsky (Canyon, not available on platforms).

First Best Last



Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975)
This Hungarian studied in Vienna with Schoenberg, Webern and R. Strauss. Known for having taught conducting to Abbado and Mehta. Stayed mostly in Vienna were he was active in opera and symphonic fields. 
His first recording was Haydn’s Orfeo Ed Euridice (1951). Difficult to find a last one since is name has been misused by some fakers, maybe a Schoenberg / Webern in 1973.

First Best Last

George Szell (1897-1970)
This Hungarian  gave his first piano concerto at 10. Conductor of the Cleveland orchestra from 1946 until his death. His first recording was Dvorak’s 9th symphony. His last one was maybe Brahms’ Violin concerto with David Oistrakh. He was a great Prokofiev’s music interpreter.

First Best Last


3 thoughts on “PAST CONDUCTORS RECORDINGS: FIRST, LAST & BEST – LETTER S”

  1. Very interesting examples and covers as always. One example under Šejna is Serenade for Strings but I don’t believe he recorded this. The Symphony 27 recorded by Silvestri in Prague was Haydn rather than Mozart – it was a misunderstanding – a score was found in Sibiu Romania and local musicologists thought it was a previously unknown Haydn work, so Silvestri recorded it. After the recording was issued Vienna musicologists pointed out it was a work already know. But it was the première recording I think. I believe Szell recording with Czech Philharmonic of Dvořák New World Symphony was recorded in Abbey Road Studio London rather than in Prague – it was the Cello Concerto with Casals and Szell and Czech Philharmonic which was recorded in Prague.

  2. Glad you were interested in my comments on S – here are too more in case you are others are interested.

    According to Wikipedia, Szell’s first recording was part of Strauss Don Juan in early 1920s – Szell was Strauss’s assistant and Strauss overslept so the first two sides were recorded before he had arrived. When Strauss arrived he said he was quite happy with Szell’s performance so the 78 issue, four sides under Strauss’s name, was actually two sides Szell, two sides Strauss.

    As on your page Sawallisch’s first recordings were on Remington with RIAS, early 50s. Then the first major company to use him was Columbia with Philharmonia in London 1954. Recordings with violinist Johanna Martzy were planned. Recordings were started but Johanna Martzy did not like Sawallisch’s conducting and refused to allow them to be issued. Columbia later recorded them again for her with Paul Kletzki. To fill up the remaining sessions with Sawallisch they recorded Dvořák Symphony 8 (called 4 at that time). Sawallisch had not conducted it before but the LP was a great success and made Sawallisch’s name for many people as the first issue with a major company.

    Just a few years ago after both artists had died the recordings with Sawallisch and Martzy were issued – it is difficult to hear what she did not like.

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