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Biography

Antal Doráti KBE (April 9, 1906 – November 13, 1988) was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer.

Doráti was born Antal Deutsch in Budapest, where his father was a violinist with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied at the Franz Liszt Academy with Zoltán Kodály and Leo Weiner for composition and befriended Béla Bartók who worked there as a teacher. He made his conducting debut in 1924 with the Budapest Royal Opera.

He made his first recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the recording label His Master's Voice. All his recordings at this stage were for HMV in England and most of these were issued in the USA by RCA Records. Over the course of his career Doráti made over 700 studio recordings. He was the first conductor to record the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn, with the Philharmonia Hungarica: an orchestra comprised of Hungarian musicians who fled the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1947.

He became especially well-known for his recordings of Tchaikovsky's music. He was the first conductor to record all three of Tchaikovsky's ballets - The Nutcracker (1953), Swan Lake (1954) and The Sleeping Beauty (1955) - complete. This was for Mercury Records, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (later renamed the Minnesota Orchestra), as part of their famous "Living Presence" series. All three ballets were at first issued separately, but were later re-issued in a 6-LP set. Dorati never re-recorded "Swan Lake", but he did make a stereo recording of "The Sleeping Beauty" (again complete) with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam for Philips Classics Records, and two complete recordings in stereo of "The Nutcracker", one with the London Symphony Orchestra (again for Mercury), and the other with the Concertgebouw Orchestra for Philips - all this within a span of about twenty-seven years. He also recorded all four of Tchaikovsky's "Orchestral Suites" with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and he was the first conductor to make a recording of Tchaikovsky's "1812" Overture (featuring the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) with real cannons, brass band, and church bells, first in mono in 1954 and then in stereo in 1958. He also recorded all six of Tchaikovsky's symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra. His Mercury recordings have been digitally remastered and issued on CD.

In addition, he made the first stereo recording of Léo Delibes' Coppelia, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.

He lived to make digital recordings, for English Decca Records (released in the U.S. on the London label), with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. One of these, the recording of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, received the coveted French award Grand Prix du Disque.

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