development of the arts and the enhancement of the cultural quality
of life in Utah owe much to Maurice Abravanel, Music Director of the Utah Symphony for more than three decades. A true internationalist,
Abravanel was born in Greece of Spanish and Portuguese parents in 1903.
His early life was spent in Switzerland and he studied in Germany under
Kurt Weill, who profoundly influenced his professional life. Abravanel
first conducted an orchestra at the age of sixteen in Switzerland. His
conducting abilities soon placed him before the orchestras of several
renowned opera houses in Europe, including the Berlin State Opera and
the Paris Opera. He spent two years in Australia, doing much to influence
the growth of symphony orchestras there. At the age of thirty-three
he was engaged to conduct the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, being
the youngest conductor at the Met at that time. Abravanel then turned
his talents to Broadway, where he enjoyed great success as conductor
of all of Weill's American productions.
the age of forty-four, and with such vast experience behind him, Abravanel
knew what he wanted to accomplish - to build a permanent symphony orchestra
of his own. In 1947 he accepted a one-year contract to conduct the fledgling
Utah Symphony. The local mountains and the symphony orchestra were both
to his liking, and Abravanel stayed, eventually maintaining the position
of Music Director for thirty-two years. The Maestro retired from the
podium in 1979, but he remained active in the world of music and in
Utah's cultural community until his death.