The father of the velvet sound -- Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra

Eugene Ormandy once said that he was born in New York at the age of 22. In fact, he not only switched careers as an adult, he also changed his name and nationality. Born November 18, 1899, in Budapest, he grew up as Jeno Blau, making a name for himself as a child prodigy on the violin. As a young man, he went on tour with the Berlin-based Bluethner Orchestra. Then he was led on by two dubious concert agents who offered him a recital tour through the United States. Having traveled to New York by ship, he soon realized that the tour was not to happen. Therefore the young violinist -- age 22 at the time -- found himself a job in a pit orchestra that accompanied silent movies. Within a few weeks, he worked his way up to become concert master and deputy conductor of the little orchestra; and here begins the story of a musician whom the world would come to know as one of the most eminent conductors of the 20th century. After a short period as music director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy was hired by the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose sound he would shape for more than 40 years. Georg Hirsch has tracked back Eugene Ormandy's path.

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