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Antal Doráti (Conductor)

Born: April 9, 1906 - Budapest, Hungary
Died: November 13, 1988 - Gerzensee, near Bern, Switzerland

The distinguished Hungarian-born American conductor and composer, Antal Doráti, studied with Leó Weiner, both privately and at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he also received instruction in composition from Kodaly from 1920 to 1924.

Soon after graduating Antal Doráti rose to become the youngest ever conductor of the Royal Opera House in Budapestr at age 18. He served there until 1928 when he went to Dresden as assistant to Fritz Busch at the Dresden State Opera until 1929. Subsequently, in 1929, he was engaged as conductor at the opera house in Münster/Westfalia, where he stayed until 1933. In 1933 he went to Paris, and from 1934 to 1941 he was first second conductor, later music director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which he took on a tour of Australia in 1938.

Antal Doráti made his USA debut as guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., in 1937. In 1940 he settled in the USA, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1947. He began his American career as music director of the American Ballet Theatre in New York from 1941 to 1944. After serving as conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1945 to 1949, he was music director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1949 to 1960. From 1963 to 1966 he was chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London; then of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra from 1966 to 19701 (or 1965 to 19722). Parallel to his European activities he was music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. from 1970 to 1977, and of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1981. He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London from 1975 to 1979. From 1981 he became "Conductor Laureate" for life of 3 orchestras (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra). He made numerous guest conducting appearances in Europe and North America, earning a well-deserved reputation as an orchestra builder.

Antal Doráti'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 prolific recording output made him one of the best-known conductors of his time. His most important recording project was the complete recording of the 107 Haydn symphonies and 8 of the composer's operas. These recordings were particularly commendable.

Antal Doráti'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 teaching activities include regular masterclasses at the Royal College of music in London as well as at the Music Academy in Budapest. Both institutions made him their honorary member. Also masterclasses at the Salzburg Festival, Dartington and Bern - Basel are mentionable.

Antal Doráti's 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 Doráti by appointing him an Hon.R.A.M. And in 19841 (or 19832) her Majesty the Queen appointed him an Hon. KBE (Knight of the British Empire) in recognition for his service to music in Britain.

In 1969 Antal Doráti married Use von Alpenheim, who often appeared as a soloist under his direction. His autobiography Notes of seven decades was published in 19791 (or 19752). 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.


Divertimento for Orchestra
Graduation Ball, ballet, arranged from the waltzes of Johann Strauss
The Way of tbe Cross, dramatic cantata (Minneapolis, April 19, 1957)
2 symphonies: No. 1 (Minneapolis, March 18, 1960) and No. 2, Querela pacis (Detroit, April 24, 1986)
7 Pieces for Orchestra (1961; performed as a ballet, Maddalena)
Piano Concerto (1974; Washington, D.e., October 28, 1975)
Cello Concerto (Louisville, October I, 1976)
Chamber music

More Photos

1. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
2. Antal Dorati Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Antal Doráti


Aria from BWV 244 [Movie]

Links to other Sites

Antal Dorati - Musiker, Musician, Dirigent, Conductor, Composer (Official Website)
Antal Dorati Centenary Society - Information, biography
Antal Dorati (Decca)
Antal Dorati Biography (Naxos)

Antal Doráti (Wikipedia)
Antal Dorati (Britannica Online Encyclopedia)
Antal Dorati (
Antal Doráti (AMG)


Ayres: "Antal Dorati, 1906-1988," Le Grand Baton (December 1991)

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