1950 producer Marcel Prawy asked Viennese conductor Bernard Paumgartner
to make recordings for Remington and as a bait Prawy mentions the
contract he has for making recordings with the Mozarteum Orchestra
of Salzburg which was eventually conducted by Joseph Messner. However,
Prawy did not mention the name of Zoltan Fekete, the Hungarian conductor
who conducted the Mozarteum on several occasions, but whose biography
remains an obscurity. Zoltán Fekete was not a specific Remington
artist in the sense that Kurt Wöss, H. Arthur Brown, Joseph Messner,
or later Thor Johnson was.
about Zoltán Fekete is scarce. Encyclopedias do not
mention the man. Grove's does not have an entry on Fekete.)* And liner
notes on the LP releases often merely mention his name and only in
two cases one or two facts which may allude to an existing biography.
On the Remington cover of Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 on R-199-138
there are just a few lines which indicate that Zoltán Fekete
came to the US, apparently just before World War II, and that he must
have obtained American citizenship:
American-Hungarian conductor first penetrated the musical consciousness
of New York through a series of concerts with the Midtown and
New York City orchestras."
the war he returned to Vienna as Wanda C. Von Rudolph writes on the
back of the cover of Colosseum CLPS 1012 with Suites
of music by Georg Friedrich Handel arranged and conducted by
Fekete to whom we are indebted for the suites presented here,
conducted this performance with the Vienna State Symphony Orchestra.
A Hungarian by birth his musical education includes study in
the Budapest Academy of Music and in Vienna. Mr. Fekete has
devoted a great deal of research to the final period of Handel's
creations. In his arrangements he has kept faithfully to the
original melodies and harmonies, transposing them into forms
which are easily understandable today. Mr. Fekete is also a
composer, one of his compositions on another Colosseum record
is his "Caucasus Ballet Suite" (CLPS 1011). Other
numbers conducted by him are : "Snow White Ballet Suite"
(CLPS 1011), and the "Grand Duo Opus 140" arranged
by Fritz Oeser as the "Gastein Symphony" (CLPS 1013)
also Bartok's early work (1905) - First Orchestra Suite, opus
3 (CLPS 1010).
Zoltán Fekete is arranger of Mozart's Fantasy
and of Suites by Handel. He conducted works by Bartók,
Bruckner, Mahler and Tchaikovsky, and he is the composer of Caucasus
Ballet Suite and Snow White Ballet Suite.
was born on July 25th, 1909, in Budapest, Hungary. He studied with
Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók
in Budapest and later in Vienna. The recordings of Zoltán Fekete
are not many. They have been released in various countries on different
record labels. Reviewers were not always appreciative of his conducting.
I suspect that the poor technique of most recordings led to this opining.
Some of Fekete's performances show that he certainly had the needed
authority to lead an orchestra in an inspiring way. He surely did
not have the wish to build a career solely as a conductor forcing
him to lead performances of an extensive repertory with many different
Fekete was the man who preferred to appear from time to time in front
of an orchestra, would arrange works from others and would compose
orchestral scores of his own. How many works he wrote in total is
not known. Also the exact date of his passing away is not found. But
Teri Noel Towe told me that Fekete died in the late 1970s. He was
living in Munich. His wife was Alma Hoehn, the legendary dealer
in collectable 78 rpm shellac records and vinyl LPs. She died around
Fekete's Remington recordings:
- Elisabeth Wysor in Contralto Arias: Mozart, Meyerbeer, Verdi,
Wagner - The Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Zoltán
Fekete. It was originally released by Don Gabor on Continental CLP
1002 in 1950 (Songs of the Great Masters). It also became available
on Halo 50312 in 1957.Edward Tatnall Canby noted reviewed this disc
in Saturday Review of November 1950.
is a very great voice, rich, with phenominal range, perfect
control (like that of the great voices of the turn of the century);
musicianship excellent, too, with impeccably accurate pitch.
Wagner items "Tristan", "Rheingold" are
most in style but unusual "Clemenza de Tito". Mozart
is well done. Tone is bit monotonous, diction not too good.
Orchestral backing weak. Decidedly a worthwhile record, at any
price." - Edward Tatnall Canby
- Mozart: Music To "Thamos, Koenig in Aegypten",
Austrian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zoltán Fekete, coupled
with Finlandia (Sibelius) conducted by Kurt Wöss.
name was a convenience name as the conductor stated in a letter to
Saturday Review that he never recorded "Thamos" for any
- Mozart: Fantasia in F Minor KV 608 (arr. Fekete) - The Vienna
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zoltán Fekete, coupled with
Symphony No. 1 (Schubert) conducted by Kurt Wöss.
here for a Sound Clip of a fragment from Tchaikovsky's
- Tchaikovsky: Tempest (Symphonic Fantasia, Op. 18, The Storm)
- Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zoltán Fekete, coupled
with Le coq d'or (Rimsky-Korsakov) conducted by George
R-199-55 was first released in the winter of 1951/1952.
recording was also released by Gabor on the Etude label (ref.
706; again coupled with Le coq d'or) but then Le
coq d'or was attributed to Zoltan Fekete who protested about
this in Saturday Review writing to the editor "Sir, I
have never heard of this Etude company and wish to state categorically
that I have no contract with them whatsoever." And he writes
that he never in his life has conducted Selections from Thamos King
of Egypt and has never recorded for any company Rimsky-Korsakov's
"Le cocq d'or".
April of 1955 the recording of The Tempest was issued in Great Britain
on Concert Artist LPA 1022, but here coupled with Fekete's
own composition 'Caucasus Ballet Suite'. The issue in England had
nothing to do with Remington as Zoltan Fekete owned copyright on both
sound recordings. Although a Concert Artist release, reviewer R.F.
exactly described the Remington-like sound character and the quality
of the performance of this recording in the April 1955 issue of (then
performance is reasonably good, though lacking in precision
of attack, but the balance of the instruments is not satisfactory.
There is no mellowness about the string toneand after
all they are Viennese violins and cannot really sound like this.
The microphone, presumably too close, is picking up too much
from too few desks, and the result is edgy tone with some distortion
On the other side there is a piece by the conductor who is not
known by Grove or any other book of reference that I can find.
Readers will notice that he has been doing a lot of recording
in Vienna lately. According to the sleeve he is a Hungarian
who has lived in America since just before the war. Had I not
been told, I would have guessed that his Caucasus was the work
of a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov writing in the 1890's. It seems
to me to be quite without merit. - Roger Fiske
may disagree somewhat - as I do - with the reviewer's qualification
of the performance of The Tempest as being "reasonably good".
It suffice to listen to the - indeed badly recorded - but exhilarating
performance on the Remington disc. The harsh string tone can certainly
be corrected somewhat. But it is clear that Fekete is in full command
of the orchestra and the players show that they really can cope with
the virtuoso passages of the storm building up and raging. Noteworthy
is the brass section of the Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society.
It is not a polished recording, that's for sure, yet Fekete's is a
strong and captivating performance and reminds one of the suspense
generated by the sound track of an old 1950's B-movie, indicating
the important influence of European, Eastern European and Russian
artists, musicians and composers in Hollywood at the time.
- Bruckner: Symphony no. 3 (1889 ver., pub. Rättig 1890)
- Zoltán Fekete, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra (1950).
1950 on this recording had been available on Concert Hall Society
CHS 1065. In the beginning of 1954 Concert Hall CHS 1065 was no
longer available and had been deleted from Schwann Long Playing Record
Catalog. The reason was that Concert Hall had now recorded a Bruckner
Third with Walter Goehr conducting The Netherlands Philharmonic
Orchestra which was released on Concert Hall CHS 1195
and was well received by the critics. In High Fidelity Magazine of
April 1954, critic Paul Affelder wrote: "Walter Goehr conducts
a compact, intense performance that is played in fine fashion by the
Netherlands Philharmonic." From then on the original recording
of Fekete's performance from 1950 became available on Remington
R-199-138. It is definitely not a Remington MUSIRAMA recording
as is suggested by cover and label. In Great Britain the Fekete recording
was released on Concert Artist LPA 1018. Many years later it
also appeared on Qualiton (Hungaroton) LP HLPX 1047. See
A curiosity is Concerteum CR 326 on which Zoltán Fekete
conducts "Orchestral Suite" (Suite d'orchestre, Op. 3) by
Béla Bartók. Although the Bartok Suite recording
appeared on Concerteum with the specific Remington prefix CR,
the Suite never appeared on Remington but was released on Colosseum
CLPS 1010 in the US. A release on Remington was maybe planned but
did not go through. It could well be that the plates were cut in the
Webster pressing plant or at
least by the same engineer who cut the lacquers of other Remingtons.
Remington releases on the Concerteum
Fekete on other labels:
Fekete: "Caucasus Ballet Suite" Colosseum CLPS 1011.
Fekete: "Snow White Ballet Suite" Colosseum CLPS 1011.
Berlioz: Le corsair, Prague Symphony Orchestra - Supraphon SUG
Berlioz: Le Corsaire, Benvenuto Cellini.
Vincent d'Indy: La mort de Wallenstein, Istar.
Prague Symphony Orchestra - Supraphon SUA ST 50735. Issued as a Crossroad
release in the USA. Prague Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zoltan
Schubert: Gastein Symphony (orchestration by Fritz Oeser of Schubert's
Grand Duo Opus 140, now known as Symphony No. 9 (The Great) D 944.
Colosseum CLPS 1013.
Béla Bartok: Suite for Orchestras No. 1, opus 3 - Colosseum
In France on Concerteum CR 326. (1955)
Mahler: - Das Klagende Lied.
Ilona Steingruber (Soprano), Sieglinde Wagner (Contralto) and Ernst
Majkut (Tenor). Vienna State Opera Orchestra, conductor Zoltan Fekete.
In Great Britain this recording was not released as a Mercury but
was issued on the Concert Artist label in April 1955.
Friederich Handel: Jephta Suite No. I , arranged by Zoltan Fekete.
Joseph Haydn: Symphony in C (arranged by Fekete). Salzburg
Mozarteurn Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Fekete. Mercury 10066.
Fekete in 1950. Photo taken from Mercury MG 100066, the recording
of Fekete's Jephta Suite based on the later compositions of Georg
Friedrich Handel - Saul, Alceste, Samson, Solomon, Joshua and
the Triumph of Time and Truth - Fekete conducting the Salzburg
Mozarteum Orchestra. That same record contains Fekete's edition
of Haydn's Symphony in C Major. MG 100066 was released in November
The Vigil of Venus. Ilona Steingrunber (Soprano), Otto Wiener (Baritone),
Vienna Academy Choir conducted by Ferdinand Grossman, The Vienna State
Opera Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Fekete. MGM E3085. (1955).
Friedrick Handel: Alceste Suite and Festival Suite (arranged by
Zoltan Fekete). Vienna State Opera Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Fekete.
Colosseum CLPS 1012.
Haydn: Symphonies 86, 88. Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra conducted
by Zoltan Fekete. Mercury MG 10071
Frederick Handel: The Triumph of Truth arranged by Zoltan Fekete.
The Orchestral Society of Vienna conducted by Zoltan Fekete. Lyrichord
Massenet: Werther, excerpts. Geori Boué (Soprano), Barnay
Marti (Tenor). Orchestra conducted by Zoltan Fekete. Orphée
51082 E (France). Later issued on Vogue LDM 30130.
I was not aware at the time when I wrote the text on this page that
there is the excellent book Conductors on Record by John L Holmes.-
Victor Collancz Ltd. London, 1982.
Rudolf A. Bruil.
Page first published on March 29, 2009