For the fortnight beginning Tuesday, July 17, Eugene Ormandy will conduct the Stadium concerts, receiving the baton from the hands of Jose Iturbi. This engagement follows the young Hungarian’s appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Robin Hood Dell, where he conducts from the opening of the summer season through July 15. And at midnight after his last performance in this city he will sail for Europe to visit his birthplace and vacation before returning to his post as permanent conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Ormandy’s rise from the position of violinist in the last chair of the string section of the Capitol Theatre Orchestra in 1921 to the directorship of one of the greatest symphony units in the country ten years later is as spectacular as the genius that enabled him, last year, to conduct 149 concerts composed of ninety entirely different programs, entirely by heart and without a score.
Thirty-six years ago in Budapest Ormandy senior christened his infant son Jeno after the famous violinist Jeno Hubay, and determined that the boy would become as great as his namesake. The result eclipsed even his hopes. Eighteen months later the babe Eugene could identify more than fifty phonograph records after listening to only the first notes.
At the age of three and one-half years his father had a special one-eighth size violin made for him, and he began his musical studies. Entering the Royal Hungarian Academy of Music at five, he made his public debut two years later, and soon became the pupil of Hubay. At fourteen he was graduated from the Academy, and three years later received his degree as Professor of Music, by special permission, because of his youth, from the Minister of Education.
Continental tours and command performances ensued, until he came to America in 1921 with a contract from a concert manager providing for an extensive tour. Upon his arrival here, finding that the impresario’s wealth consisted mainly of promises, he had to shift for himself. The Capitol Orchestra was the starting point. Thence his career has been a steady ascension through the Roxy units, the Judson Radio Program Corporation, the New York and Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestras, culminating with the offer from Minneapolis where he has built up a symphony orchestra that ranks with the greatest in the musical world.