Born and trained in Hungary, Ormandy is famed for his long tenure at the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra where he created a sound and style that is still discernible in the ensemble today, 21 years after his death.
A tribute by Vladimir Ashkenazy
I played a lot of repertoire with him. At one point he said he’d like to record with me, so I asked Decca if they would let me do it and we recorded Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, in Philadelphia for RCA. After the first movement we went into the studio to listen. ‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s okay,’ he said. And my wife said, ‘There is a pianist here as well!’ He looked at her questioningly. We repeated it anyway, but whenever we saw him again, he’d always look at my wife and, smiling, say ‘You, critic!’ He was very friendly.
He was very good, very transparent – he hardly had to say anything. He conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra for more than 40 years – it was very harmonious, the musicians respected him very much and played very well for him. It was always a great pleasure to perform with Eugene Ormandy.