Sebastian around 1950.
Picture taken from the cover of Urania URLP 7061
released in the fall of 1952.
Sebastian's Urania recording of Liszt's Faust Symphonie.
Fantastique on the German Diamant label licensed by Remington Records
In an old encyclopedia it was stated that Sebastian's actual name
was György Sebestyén but he westernized it to Sebastian.
As he lived in Paris from 1947 on, his Christian name is written Georges
with an 's', the French way, although he often is listed as George
as well. And his Family name is often written as Sebastien.
was born in Budapest on Aug. 17, 1903 and died (according to Larousse
Encyclopedia) on April 12th, 1989 in Hauteville (Yvelines), located
southwest of Paris.
The liner notes of Remington R-199-176 mention that
'(...) he studied with Leo Weiner and Zoltán
Kodály. He conducted with Bruno Walter in Munich
and then came to the US as assistant conductor at the Metropolitan
Opera House. His career took him back to Europe where he was engaged
as conductor of the Opera Houses of Hamburg, Leipzig, Berlin and
Barcelona. He returned to America to perform with the Buenos Aires
and Rio de Janeiro Operas, the San Francisco Opera and the CBS
nationwide network. Since 1947 he has been first conductor of
the Paris Grand Opera and a regular conductor of the Concerts
To most music
lovers Sebastian is known as the conductor of the live-performance
of the second act of La Tosca (Puccini) with Maria Callas and
Tito Gobbi with the Orchestra and Chorus of the 'Théâtre National
de l'Opéra de Paris' on December 19, 1958 (Maria Callas: Débuts
à Paris, 1958), his collaboration with Kirsten Flagstad in
recordings of 1948 and 1951, and the Paris debut of Leontyne Price
-at the pinnacle of his career- recorded many works for the Urania
label: Albeniz (Ibéria), Dukas (Symphony in C, La Péri; C-7097), Fauré
(Pelléas et Mélisande; C-7097), Franck (Les Djinns; 7099), Schubert:
(Symphonies No. 3 and 6 with l'orchestre des Concerts Colonne; 7137),
Granados (Spanish Dances; 7144), d'Indy (Istar Variations; C-7115),
Lalo (Rhapsodie Norvégienne, Symphony No. 2; C-7156), Liszt (Dante
Symphony; C-7103), Faust Symphony (Liszt; C-606), Prokofiev (Symphony
No. 4; A-7139), The Prodigal Son (Prokofiev; A-7139), Respighi (Brazilian
Impressions; A-7144), Saint-Saëns (Carnival of Animals; C-7099), Schubert
(Symphonies Nos. 3 and 6; A-7137).
For Urania he also conducted the complete recording of 'Thais' (Massenet;
B-227) and of 'Werther' (Massenet; with Juyol, Leger, Richard, Rouquetty,
Bourdin, 233 (3Lp) and for English Decca 'Lakme' (Delibes; London
Laszlo Halasz knew of course his
fellow countryman and asked Sebastian to record for Remington Records
with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra and with the Orchestra of the Teatro
Remington Musirama cover of Symphony Fantastique (R-199-176)
RIAS Symphony Orchestra
he recorded for Remington:
- Wagnerian Favorites: Tannhäuser (Prelude to Act III, Arrival
of the Guests at the Wartburg), Lohengrin (Prelude to Act III), Meistersinger
(Prelude, Dance of the Apprentices and March).
- Symphonie Fantastique (Berlioz). According to the French web site
Patachon this same recording was available on Musidisc RC 830 and
the conductor's name was Thomas Greene conducting the London Festival
Orchestra and as year of recording 1966 is mentioned.
- Wagner Overtures: Lohengrin (Prelude to Act 1), Meistersinger (Prelude
to Act 1), Tannhäuser (Overture to Act 1; Bacchanale)
- Suite from Coppélia (Delibes) - coupled with the Suite from Sylvia
conducted by Anatole Fistoulari. In 1967 these performances were reissued
on Everest 6116 (mono) and 3116 (stereo). The availability of this
recording in stereo proves that Don Gabor and Laszlo Halasz made these
recordings in stereo, though not on 35 mm film; the 35 mm could only
have been used by Everest for the initial transfer of the original
tapes; but it is unlikely that they worked that way. The Everest release
not only shows that the sound technique of these recordings was excellent,
given the year they were recorded in, but also the performances are
And with the Teatro La
R-199-175/2 - 'Cavalleria
Rusticana' (Mascagni) - a 2 record set.
recording with the 'Teatro la Fenice' conducted by George Sebastian,
had singers Teresa Apolei, Pina Geri, Antonio Spruzzola Zola,
Piero Campolonghi and Letizia Del Col.
This set replaced the earlier recording with conductor Erasmo Ghiglia
conducting the Fiorentino Chorus and Orchestra, and singers Vassilka
Petrova, Edward Ruhl, Ivan Petroff and Benucci.
were made with Georges Sebastian but were not released by Remington
(they appeared on Tefi Schallbänder in Germany):
* Ponchielli: Danse of the Hours
* Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter (coupled with Capricio Italien conducted
by Wolfgang Sawallisch) - Bertelsmann HIFI 13 134
* Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre
* Saint-Saëns: Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah
Sebastian (1903-1989) around 1955.
Photograph taken from an advertisement
of Remington Records in a Dutch publication.
In March 1955
Dutch music critic Jan de Kruijff reviewed Sebastian's performance
of Symphony Fantastique for the monthly record magazine 'Luister...'
and compared the release to the recordings of Willem van Otterloo
(Philips), Eduard van Beinum (Decca), Pierre Monteux (RCA) and Igor
Markevitch (Deutsche Grammophon). Though the performance of the latter
conductor was "the winner" of the lot, George Sebastian's
Remington disc received praise. De Kruijff wrote:
according to the Musirama-system is a revelation of richness
of sound. The performers, the RIAS Symphony Orchestra conducted
by George Sebastian, give a glowing performance. At several
instances the effects seem a bit would be. The groups of instruments
have been treated too much in an individual manner in contrast
to the (English) Decca-recording, which lacks this. While listening,
the impression is that we are not seated in the hall but it
looks as if we are walking through the orchestra and at one
moment are placed amidst the first violins and at another instance
we land in the vicinity of the percussion-section, which does
not result in the correct impression of the work. In this way
the work gets a transparent character. The display of space
is good; regrettably the brass-section sounds rather dry. The
fourth movement in particular sounds very suggestive.
There are a few
recordings of Sebastian on other labels than Remington and Urania:
* Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 with Reine Gianoli and the Baden-Baden
Radio Symphony Orchestra - CLUB FRANCAIS DU DISQUE 368
* Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier, Act 3, the San Francisco performance
recorded in 1945 with Lotte Lehmann, Alvary, Rise Stevens, Glaz, -
GOLDEN AGE OF OPERA EJS 462
* Excerpts from Bizet's Carmen with Rise Stevens \Connor\Jobin - OA
5X 5 x COLUMBIA 78D. 152
* Massenet: Thais with Boue, Monmart, Riquier, Leroy - PRESIDENT UPR
* Excerpts from Siegfried with Kristen Flagstad (coupled with excerpts
from Die Walküre, conducted by Karl Böhm EMI FALP 30311
* Strauss: Tod und Verklärung, Rosenkavalier Suite with the Orchestra
of the Südwestfunk - CLUB FRANCAIS DU DISQUE 328
* Thomas: Mignon, with Mizzen, Michael and lade La - 3 x LONDON ALA
* Two fine performances were recorded in 1963 by DEB Deutsche Schallplatten
in the than German Democratic Republic in cooperation with EMI: Schönberg's
'Verklärte Nacht' and Mahler's 'Adagio' from Symphony No. 10.
EMI produced a very fine release of these recordings with the Gewandhaus
Orchester Leipzig. These recordings can be found on the Eterna label
Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published January 16, 2003.