Victor de Sabata
(April 10, 1892 – December 11, 1967)
Victor de Sabata was born in Trieste, Italy in 1892. His father, Amedeo, was an artist; his mother, Rosita Tedeschi, came from a family of Jewish origin and was also from Trieste. The de Sabata family moved to Milan when young Victor was eight years old and there he began his music studies at the city's conservatory; he immediately demonstrated his extraordinary gifts as an artist. In 1910 he received his degree and seven years later his opera, Il Macigno (The Boulder), was staged at La Scala. One year later de Sabata became permanent conductor at the Montecarlo Opera House. By 1922, at the age of thirty, he had already worked with eminent singers such as Beniamino Gigli, Mattia Battistini, Tito Schipa, Vanni Marcoux, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, and Gilda Rizza. Respect for him was such that, three years later, he was invited to conduct the opening premiere of L'Enfant et les sortileges (The Child and the Spells), a lyric fantasy in two parts by Maurice Ravel. Ravel responded more than favorably to de Sabata’s conducting, writing, "…you gave me one of the most fulfilling joys of my career.” De Sabata went on to conduct his first concerts in the United States in 1927 and at La Scala in 1939. He also had the honor of being the second Italian orchestra conductor to conduct Tristan und Isolde – Arturo Toscanini was the first. About that occasion, Paul Buelow (Bayerische Ostmark) wrote: The Italian conductor, when on the podium, began conducting without using the score…rehearsal definitely became a sensational event. To conduct knowing the score by heart is no longer unusual to see, however, doing it as de Sabata does, by evidently having all the score details stamped in his memory, it is something that makes him ‘a legend.’ The audience, which had previously been provided with the score, had the opportunity to ascertain the absolute correctness of all gestures. Concerning another Tristan performance, Sergiu Celibidache (a follower of de Sabata's ideology concerning the phenomenological vision of each individual performance as a "unique event" ) recalled: …We used to hide ourselves in the restroom and spend the whole night there in order to be able to listen to rehearsal in the morning…with no electricity, with only match light to look at the score. How deeply impressive, even now I still shudder at the thought. In 1931, Maestro de Sabata, after to a quarrel, left La Scala. However, he returned after a few months to prepare Fedora. The renewed relationship with La Scala went on to last over twenty years, and, in various ways, until the end of his life. At the beginning of 1953, during a tour in the United States, de Sabata began to complain of heart pain. Nonetheless, he continued his work La Scala, and, in the month of August, recorded Tosca. Sadly, on August 25 in Milan, de Sabata suffered a heart attack that was followed by two more, the third one quite severe, and the following month he was forced to give up conducting. He returned to the podium only a few times, including a 1954 recording of Verdi’s Requiem and on the occasion of Toscanini’s funeral. De Sabata died in Santa Margherita Ligure in 1967.
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Dances of Galanta
Aida: Act 1 Prelude
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod
Tod und Verklarung, Op. 24
Victor de Sabata
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