Gerhard Oppitz, piano – Essen Philharmonic, Stefan Soltesz, cond – in concert May 23, 2013 – West German Radio –
Over to Essen, Germany this week for a concert featuring pianist Gerhard Oppitz and the Essen Philharmonic conducted by Stefan Soltesz in music of Strauss, Bartokk and Kodaly.
Beginning with Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration – followed by Bartok’s Second Piano Concerto with Gerhard Oppitz as soloist and concluding the concert with Zoltan Kodaly’s Hary Janos Suite. All recorded by WDR3 on May 23, 2013.
Gerhard Oppiitz started playing the piano at 5. He gave his first public concert at the age of 11, performing W.A. Mozart’s D minor concerto where he was discovered by Paul Buck, professor at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart. He studied with Buck until 1974 when he moved to Munich to attend Hugo Steurer’s master-class. In 1973, Gerhard Oppitz met Wilhelm Kempff who soon became his guide and mentor. Wilhelm Kempff invited the young pianist to attend his private master-class in Positano where he coached him in the sonatas and concertos of L.v. Beethoven. Wilhelm Kempff was impressed by the striking similarities in their interpretative outlooks. It was Wilhelm Kempff’s own wish that after his death, Gerhard Oppitz should continue the German musical tradition that linked them so closely.
Gerhard Oppitz’ own career opened up internationally in 1977 when he became the first German to win the coveted Artur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. This achievement and quasi political event led to concert tours across Europe, Japan and the USA. In 1978, he recorded the first of many discs, and the same year was offered a post as professor at the Munich Musikhochschule. Initially concerned that this activity would clash with his concert engagements, he finally, in 1981, accepted to teach a master-class, becoming the youngest professor in the history of the Musikhochschule.
Gerhard Oppitz performs over eighty recitals and concerts a year, playing with the world’s most prestigious orchestras.
Stefan Soltesz was born as István Soltész (Hungarian: Soltész István) in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, on 6 January 1949 and received piano lessons from age four. He came to Vienna in 1956, where he became a member of the Wiener Sängerknaben at age ten. He studied piano, conducting and composition at the Wiener Musikakademie beginning at age 14, conducting with Hans Swarowsky.
In 1971 he began his career as Kapellmeister at the Theater an der Wien, followed by engagements as répétiteur and conductor, at the Vienna State Opera from 1973 to 1983, and as guest conductor at the Graz Opera from 1979 to 1981. At the Salzburg Festivals of 1978, 1979 and 1983, he worked as a musical assistant to Karl Böhm, Christoph von Dohnányi and Herbert von Karajan.
Soltész was conductor at the Hamburg State Opera from 1983 to 1985, and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1985 to 1997. He worked as Generalmusikdirektor (GMD) at the Staatstheater Braunschweig from 1988 to 1993, and as chief conductor at the Flemish Opera from 1992 to 1997 in Antwerp and Gent.
From 1997 until the end of the 2012/13 season, Soltész was both artistic director and GMD of the Aalto-Theater in Essen. The opera house was voted “Opera House of the Year” by Opernwelt in 2008, and the Essen Philharmonic orchestra was named “Orchestra of the Year” in 2003 and 2008.
On 22 July 2022, Stefan Soltész collapsed while conducting a performance of Richard Strauss’s Die schweigsame Frau at the National Theatre Munich. He subsequently died at a nearby hospital at the age of 73.
On to the concert.