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Solti was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) from 1969 until 1991, when he was made the first and only Music Director Laureate in that orchestra's history. He was music director of the Orchestre de Paris from 1972 until 1975. From 1979 until 1983, he was principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Solti was as enthusiastic making music in the recording studio as in the opera house or concert hall. He developed a long and productive partnership with the legendary producer John Culshaw at Decca. Products of this partnership included the first ever complete studio recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. No less distinguished and equally groundbreaking were his studio recordings of the operas of Richard Strauss, which like his Wagner have been remastered and released on CD where they are still praised for their musicianship and expert production values. His performances and recordings of works by Verdi, Mahler and Bartók were also widely admired. With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra he recorded an extensive symphonic repertoire including the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Elgar, Schumann, and Mahler.

He continued to add new works to his repertoire in the latter days of his career, voicing particular enthusiasm for the music of Shostakovich, whom he admitted he failed to appreciate fully during the composer's lifetime. Solti never truly retired, and his sudden death in 1997 meant several years of planned performances and recording projects would never be realized. In total, Solti conducted 999 performances with the CSO; his 1000th performance was scheduled to be in October 1997, around the time of his 85th birthday. All told, he won thirty-eight Grammy awards, more than any other artist in any category. The City of Chicago renamed the block of East Adams Street adjacent to Symphony Center as "Sir Georg Solti Place" in his memory.

According to his last wish, he rests in Hungarian soil. After a state funeral, he has been placed beside Béla Bartók: his one-time tutor and mentor.

Solti co-wrote his memoirs with Harvey Sachs, published in the UK as Solti on Solti and in the USA as Memoirs. The book appeared in the month after his death.

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