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.
Sebastian 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.
liner notes of Remington R-199-176 mention:
'(...) 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
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 'Théatre 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
Sebastian - at the pinnacle of his career - recorded many works for
the Urania label:
(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),
Liszt (Faust Symphony; 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
Remington Recording Director
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
with the Teatro La Fenice:
- 'Cavalleria Rusticana' (Mascagni) - a 2 record set.
This complete 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.
recordings were made with Georges Sebastian conducting but they were
not released by Remington, yet appeared on Tefi Schallbänder
* Ponchielli: Danse of the Hours
* Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter (coupled with Capricio Italien conducted
by Wolfgang Sawallisch released on 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.
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 already existing 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
Remington-recording 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.
- Jan de Kruijff
are a few recordings of Sebastian on other labels than Remington and
* 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.