Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remembering Árpád Jóo

The world has lost a fine Maestro. On July 4th of this year, former KSO music director Árpád Jóo (pronounced “Yo”) passed away from a heart attack in Singapore. His hiring at age 25 in 1973 made him the orchestra's fourth principal conductor, and its youngest ever-- in fact, at that time he was the youngest ever Music Director/Conductor of a metropolitan orcestra in US history.  Entering the Kodály School of Music at the tender age of 6, he was taken under the wing of Zoltán Kodály himself, and the two shared a long friendship up until the Kodály's death in 1967. A fine pianist before his conducting career, he was awarded first prize in the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Boston at age 20.

His career after Knoxville saw him guest-conducting around the world, and led him to positions with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra in Madrid, and several orchestras in his native Budapest. Jóo's 1980 recordings (LPs) of the complete orchestral works of Bartok on the Sefel label were lauded by major critical media: Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, even Sports Illustrated. His recordings of complete orchestral works of Liszt and Kodály also have withstood the test of time, although sadly these don't seem to have been transferred to digital media.

The KSO will be dedicating the September Masterworks pair to Maestro Jóo, in recognition of accomplishments during his tenure in Knoxville. His passion, vision, and interpretation set the bar high for future music directors and players alike, and his establishment of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra program has proven to be an amazing gift to the community that still bears fruit today.

Here is a link to Árpád Jóo's biography page on the KSO website.

Hereis a link to a memorial article from the city he went to after Knoxville, in the Calgary Herald.

Here is a link to a video of Maestro Jóo leading the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra in a segment from Wagner's Die Walküre from 1989.

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