He was born in Budapest in 1897. George Szell was one of the most gifted pianists in the world. He debuted with the Vienna Symphony at the age of ten. But no one remembers George the pianist. They remember George the conductor. You see, George made a critical decision early in his life. More on that in a bit.
By age 20, George was conducting the Strasbourg Opera. By age 27, he was the principal conductor of the Berlin State Opera.
Szell made his American debut in St. Louis in 1930. He conducted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Then, he built the Cleveland Orchestra into the world’s finest. He became a U.S. citizen there, where he led world-class musicians until his death in 1970.
For 25 years, George Szell led the finest orchestra in the world.
So what was the “critical decision” George made early in life? He decided to not focus on his own skills as a solo pianist, but rather on the ability to lead others. That is what made him famous. And like George, when you and I learn to be a conductor in life, rather than a solo act, we will make great music.
The Bible says it like this. “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11).