Zoltán Rozsnyai was born in Budapest, on January 29th, 1926. He is a graduate of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where he studied under Zoltan Kodaly, Bela Bartok, and Ernest von Dohnanyi, among others. Already a concert pianist at the age of 10, he was one of the youngest students ever accepted by the Academy. At 24, he was appointed Music Director of the Debrecen Opera in Hungary.
In 1954, he became permanent conductor of the Hungarian National Philharmonia Concert Organization. In May 1956, he was awarded a prize at the International Conductor’s Competition in Rome, which resulted an immediate invitation to return to Rome as a guest conductor. The same year, after the Revolution, Rozsnyai left Budapest for Vienna, where he founded the famous Philharmonia Hungarica orchestra, composed of outstanding exiled musicians. With tireless effort, he built the Philharmonica Hungarica into one of the most outstanding concert orchestras in Europe. Under the auspices of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, Mr. Rozsnyai brought the Philharmonic Hungarica to America in 1959 for its first United States tour. They earned high critical acclaim everywhere. Individual guest invitations followed.
In 1961, Rozsnyai became a United States resident. In 1962, he became Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. In 1963, he was named Music Director of the Cleveland Philharmonic and the next year, Music Director of the Utica Symphony Orchestra.
In 1967, Rozsnyai was selected over 130 candidates for the position of Music Director of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and in four years raised the Orchestra to a high professional artistic level “…without parallel…”. Under his direction, the Orchestra also made its first professional recording on the Vox label. This recording was added to Zoltan Rozsnyai’s many record credits, which include Columbia Masterworks as well as distinguished European labels. In 1982 he built the Knoxville Symphony on the occasion of the World’s Fair, and in 1987 he built the International Orchestra of San Diego. This orchestra consisted of a select group of young musicians who had performed with symphonic orchestras and musical ensembles all over the world. Here Zoltan’s ideal of bringing the world together through music was well exemplified.
The orchestra, being close to Mexico, performed on both sides of the border to unusual acclaim. He joined his International Orchestra of San Diego with the Pro-Musica Ensenada Choir and the Convivium Musicum Choir of Mexico and produced Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria and made a recording of Haydn’s Seasons. He worked with the International University Orchestra of San Diego until September of 1990, when he left us for a better world.
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