(bBudapest, 9 Aug 1914; d Basle, 20 Feb 1963). Hungarian conductor. He was a pupil of Kodály and Bartók, of whose music he became an outstanding interpreter, at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest; he began his career as a conductor at Szeged from 1936 to 1944. In 1939 he first conducted at the Budapest Opera and in 1945 he became musical director. He combined this appointment with that of conductor of the Budapest PO, where Klemperer was then a guest conductor. Fricsay replaced the indisposed Klemperer to conduct the première of von Einem’s opera Dantons Tod at the 1947 Salzburg Festival, which quickly furthered his international reputation. Thereafter he toured widely in Europe, and was based in Berlin from 1948 to 1952 as musical director of the Städtische Oper and of the RIAS (later Berlin Radio) SO.
His British début was at the 1950 Edinburgh Festival, when he conducted the Glyndebourne Opera in Le nozze di Figaro. In the USA he first conducted the Boston SO in 1953 and became conductor of the Houston SO in 1954, but disagreements on musical policy caused him to return to Europe after one season. He became musical director of the Staatsoper in Munich in 1956, remaining for two seasons, and then returned to Berlin and his former post with the Radio SO, which he retained until his death. He inaugurated the rebuilt Deutsche Oper, West Berlin, on 24 September 1961, conducting Don Giovanni. The same year he was awarded the Grosses Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
Fricsay soon discarded the use of a baton, and confounded the critics of this technique by the extreme clarity and precision of his performances. A conductor of dynamic spirit, he gave taut, vividly characterized interpretations of familiar classics and was widely admired as a brilliant exponent of mainstream music of his own time. He made a special study of recording techniques, and conducted a number of outstanding recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, including five Mozart operas, Fidelio, Verdi’s Requiem and discs of Bartók and Stravinsky orchestral works.
F.Herzfeld: Ferenc Fricsay: a Memorial Book (Berlin, 1964) [with complete discography]
A.Werner: ‘Fricsay: ein Vergessener unter den Grossen?’, Fono-Forum, xviii (1973), 802–9 [with discography]
J.L.Holmes: Conductors: a Record Collector’s Guide (London, 1988), 80–81
(Fr. tambour à friction; Ger. Reibtrommel, Brummtopf; It. caccavella, puttiputi; Sp. tambor de fricción, zambomba).
A membranophone sounded by friction, either direct or indirect. SeeDrum, §I, 4 and String drum.
(b Máramarossziget, 25 Jan 1904; d Beverwijk, 13 Sept 1989). Dutch composer and pianist of Hungarian origin. He first appeared in public at the age of ten. At the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music he studied piano with Bartók (1912–24) and composition with Kodály (1920–24). Between 1926 and 1974 he undertook frequent concert tours through Europe, North and South America, the USSR and the Middle East, appearing with the violinists Zoltán Székely and Menuhin and the Dutch soprano Spoorenberg. In 1929 he settled in Amsterdam, taking Dutch nationality in 1948. He was music correspondent on the Vrije volk (1954–69) and, from 1964 until he retired five years later, was also principal teacher of chamber music at the Utrecht Conservatory.
Frid wrote works in many genres. His compositions are tonally oriented, often couched in traditional forms, and particularly from the point of view of rhythm betray his Hungarian origins. On many occasions he also incorporated Dutch folksongs into his music, as in Luctor et emergofor choir and orchestra, composed in 1953 to commemorate a disastrous drought in the Netherlands. In his later works he introduced improvisatory elements and electronics (Dimensies, 1967) and inclined towards 12-note writing (Symfonietta, 1963). Frid received several prizes, including the Bartók prize, awarded posthumously in 1990 by the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.