1997 George Szell – Classical Composers & Conductors
American Music Series
- Pictures conductor George Szell
- Part of the Classical Composers & Conductors set
- The 10th stamp set in the Legends of American Music series
Classical Composers & Conductors
Legends of American Music
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
September 12, 1997
First Day City:
Printed for Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. By Sterling Sommer of Tonawanda, New York
Pane of 20 (Horizontal 4 across, 5 down)
11.1 by 11.0
Why the stamp was issued:
To commemorate conductor George Szell, one of the best of the best in American classical music.
About the stamp design:
The stamp pictures a painting of Szell by artist Burt Silverman (also responsible for the image on the 1997 Raoul Wallenberg stamp). Art director Howard Paine said he chose Silverman because “He is a mature portrait painter… I didn’t want some glitzy, commercial, airbrush, flashy, tightly rendered kind of art…. Burt’s work is ‘painterly.’ He works in oil, and you can see dabs of color and you see brush strokes and you see the human touch.”
First Day City:
The First Day of Issue Ceremony for the Classical Composers & Conductors stamps was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Classical Music Hall of Fame. The city is also home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, then the fifth oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. It is also home to the Cincinnati Opera, the country’s second-oldest opera company.
About the Classical Composers & Conductors set:
Issued to commemorate composers Samuel Barber, Ferde Grofe, Charles Ives, and Louis Moreau Gottschalk, as well as conductors Leopold Stokowsky, Arthur Fiedler, George Szell, and Eugene Ormandy. They were chosen to represent the best of the best in American classical music.
About the Legends of American Music Series:
The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999. More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more. The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
History the stamp represents:
Born in Hungary, George Szell (1897-1970) grew up in Vienna, Austria. At age 11 he made his debut, performing a piano piece he had composed. Five years later, he conducted the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and then went on to perform, conduct, and compose with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1946 until his death, Szell conducted the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, transforming it into one of the world’s greatest orchestras.
Szell demanded precision and clarity from the symphony, using brilliant technique to produce exceptionally powerful music. In fact, his orchestra achieved such incredible balance and clarity that many experts have compared its performances to chamber music.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, who were prone to showmanship and personalized emotionalism, Szell was strict in his interpretation of the pieces he performed. He closely followed the composer’s intentions in an exacting, classical manner. Once, when criticized for a reserved performance of Mozart, Szell replied, “I cannot pour chocolate sauce over asparagus.”
Although he played relatively little contemporary music, Szell did champion the composition of Bartók, Janácek, and Walton.