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© Matthias Jung


His trademark was the short conductor's baton, his almost dancing movements with which he led the musicians and singers through the score during the performance, the rather brisk tempi, the obvious joy in making music and his enormous range of repertoire. At the Vienna State Opera alone, Stefan Soltesz has conducted almost all well-known works and many a rarity of opera literature in over 500 performances, in addition to countless ballets - from Mozart to Bellini, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss to Britten and Johann Strauss' Fledermaus.

Born in Hungary, Soltesz fled to Austria in 1956 as a seven-year-old to escape the approaching Soviet tanks that were crushing the Hungarian uprising.

In Vienna, the highly musical man became a member of the Wiener Sängerknaben. And as such, at the age of eleven, he made his conducting debut on a tour of a luxury ship with Schubert's Deutscher Messe - as all available conductors suffered from seasickness. Not least this first success encouraged him later to take up the conducting career. 

At the Vienna State Opera in the 1970s, he initially worked as a solo répétiteur, but appeared more and more frequently in front of the audience as a ballet conductor. In 1983, with Rossini's Barbiere di Siviglia, he finally conducted his first opera performance at the Haus am Ring, to which he remained loyal for decades in addition to his numerous international principal conducting positions.

Mere literalism was alien to him; his knowledge of style was also based on those important traditions that have preserved many of the composers' wishes, which have only been passed down orally, to this day.

On 22 July, the 73-year-old Stefan Soltesz collapsed in Munich during a performance of Schweigsame Frau and died shortly afterwards.