Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

A Thinner Szell Ready for Heavy Season

Cleveland Press 1966

George Szell -- looking tan and trim -- relaxed in his office in Severance Hall yesterday, ready to begin his 21st season as musical director of the Cleveland Orchestra.

"How do I feel? I feel fine. How do I look?" he asked.

Assured that he looked good and that he obviously had taken off a little weight -- an observation that pleased him -- he agreed to look back at his 20 years in Cleveland.

IT WAS WITH A LITTLE reluctance. "I'm not used to looking back," he observed.

"I must say that the almost embarrassingly fine reputation of this orchestra is something that exceeded what I expected 20 years ago.

"Not 10 years ago," he added. "Ten years ago I expected it.

"Why do I say embarrassing? Well, perhaps that is not a good word. It is embarrassing only in that it obligates you to keep up ever rising standards.

"THE WORLD FAME, HOWEVER, especially in the last few years, is not something I could foresee 20 years ago.

"The audiences have improved in quality as well as quantity. No, I do not program works especially for Cleveland audiences. I would play these works in any musical center of the world."

Szell has conducted in New York, London, Paris, Vienna and Moscow and he was calling Cleveland a musical center.

"CLEVELAND IS CONSIDERED so by others, so I would consider it so too," he opined.

Szell spent the summer in Europe, participated in the Vienna, Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals. But he also, by his own admission, managed to play more golf than any previous summer. ("Atrocious weather, but there were two or three hours every day.")

But there is another summer festival in Szell's future, the Cleveland Orchestra's own.

"About that festival, all I can say is that we must concentrate on the fact that it must start in 1968."