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A better life through music


A better life through music

Interview with Gabrielle Solti, Director of The Solti Foundation

The Budapest Festival Orchestra is closely tied to the memory of Sir Georg Solti, who in the last year of his life accepted the orchestra's invitation as guest conductor and even made his final recordings with the BFO. The relationship is still active today, as The Solti Foundation annually supports a young musician who can gain experience at the BFO for his professional development.

Júlia Váradi: What was the purpose of The Solti Foundation, what made your father decide to set up such a foundation to help musicians, which unfortunately could only be established after his death?

Gabrielle Solti: My father - as he told me many times when we were children - really received a lot of help to become a musician who was respected all over the world. His childhood was not easy, his father was called up as a soldier during the First World War, and from then on, the family lived in poverty for a long time in Veszprém, from where they found it difficult to move back to Budapest. When his special musical talent became apparent, he needed several helping hands, thanks to which the football-loving boy was willing to learn the piano. Of course, the family also needed financial support. So, my father felt that he had received support from many people in his life and that he had to pass it on in some way. And since he considered music education to be the most important thing, the foundation that was set up after his death also had this as its main objective.

J. V.: What exactly is the mission of the Solti Foundation?

G. S.: The Solti Foundation, established in 1998 by our family, aims to support young musicians and singers at the beginning of their professional careers. We have established scholarships, which are awarded through partnerships with renowned orchestras, masterclasses and other international organizations that support young musicians in their careers and whose programs for young musicians closely reflect our aims.

J. V.: Who are the organizations and orchestras you work with?

G. S.: These include the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia, Leeds International Piano Competition, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

J. V.: How involved are the family members, the two Solti daughters, in The Solti Foundation's goals today?

G. S.: The Solti family continues to be actively involved in the day-to-day work, which is overseen by an international board of trustees. We believe it is extremely important that children who may have difficulties, financially or otherwise, can have a better life through music. If a gifted child is given some support, it can often set him or her on a path that can lead out of the difficult circumstances. That is what music schools and good music education itself are very good for. We try to support this wherever and however we can. It is what our father and mother wanted.

J. V.: You yourself are a teacher and you are also very involved in education as a school principal, so you must know and understand exactly what children in difficult circumstances need.

G. S.: Yes, as headmaster of South Hampstead Junior School, I am quite sure that a school is good, and fulfils its role best, when it is best adapted to the needs of the children. So, the most important aim is to ensure that in any type of school, children are happy and able to adapt to the learning environment that is available to them.

J. V.: How well do you know the Budapest Festival Orchestra?

G. S.: Of course, I've heard them perform here in England, but I've never been to Budapest, although my father told me a lot about that beautiful city. I know that his heart was always there, even though he had to flee when he was young.

J. V.: Do you plan to visit Budapest at some point and perhaps listen to the BFO here, which owes a lot to The Solti Foundation?

G. S.: I'd love to come, but my children are young and it's difficult to travel further afield with them. Of course, I am planning to come to Budapest when possible, and then I will be happy to meet the Festival Orchestra’s artists and Iván Fischer.