Obituary: Tucson Symphony conductor Frederic Balazs, 98

Posted on: June 6, 2018

“Frederic Balazs, the Hungarian-born conductor who transformed the Tucson Symphony Orchestra into a formidable regional ensemble in the 1950s-60s, died June 2” in Tucson, writes Cathalena Burch in Tuesday’s (6/5) Arizona Daily Star (Tucson). “Balazs was 98…. Among his career TSO highlights: bringing in some of the biggest names in music [and assembling] a 250-member choir … so that the TSO could mount the first-ever U.S. production of … Liszt’s oratorio ‘Christus.’ … Balazs was born in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 12, 1919…. He studied violin as a child under Béla Bartok, Ernst Von Dohnànyi and Zoltàn Kodàly… At 17 he landed the coveted concertmaster position with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. His violin prowess helped him emigrate to the United States in 1939…. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II…. After several years leading the Wichita Falls Symphony in Texas … Balazs was hired to take over the podium of the largely unpaid, non-professional Tucson Symphony Orchestra. During his tenure [1952-66], the musicians unionized and developed into a dynamic regional orchestra…. Balazs also spent several years in San Luis Obispo, California, where he founded a young musicians program, before returning about a dozen years ago to Tucson to be closer to family.”

Posted June 6, 2018