More Classical Music Legends: David Mellor's Choice

David Mellor remembers some more of the legendary musicians he was lucky enough to see in concert or meet in person.

David Mellor makes another personal selection of a few of the great musicians he was lucky enough to see in concert or meet in person.  

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995)

The Italian pianist is regarded as one of the greatest of the 20th century.

David Mellor says: 'When he was a young man he appeared in an international piano competition and the great French pianist Alfred Cortot said that there was no point to listening to anybody else - this was the new Liszt and gave him 100%. And that was it.'

More from David Mellor on Michelangeli

Eugen Jochum (1902-1907)

The eminent German conductor, described by David Mellor as a 'spiritual conductor', was 'highly regarded for bringing out the spirituality in Bruckner's music in particular'.

More from David Mellor on Jochum

Yevgeny Svetlanov (1928-2002)

The Russian conductor, composer and pianist was, according to David Mellor, a 'huge hulking man who seemed to live off a diet of vodka and was rumoured to be a colonel in the KGB'.

More from David Mellor on Svetlanov

Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982)

The Polish-American pianist received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers, but many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time. 

David Mellor says, 'Rubinstein was the finest Chopin pianist I ever heard. I have so many wonderful memories of him, particularly how he would end up each recital...always with Chopin's Db Nocture.'

More from David Mellor on Rubinstein

Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005)

The esteemed conductor was a 'very handsome man,' says David Mellor, 'a splendid looking Italian with enormous capability.' 

'Giulini had this ability to bring out the real spirituality of pieces. Even if the composers themselves were not particularly religious, Giulini could always find that little bit extra to bring out.'

Emil Gilels (1916-1985) 

The Soviet pianist was one of the greats of the 20th century. 'When he died he was only in his mid-60s,' says David Mellor, 'polished off it is said by a bit of medical negligence in the USSR.'
'It's a shame. We were robbed of 20 years of Gilels who really was an artist who was growing deeper by the year and even in his final concerts was showing evidence of interpretative depth that we were denied.'

More from David Mellor on Gilels

Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)

Solti, an orchestral and operatic conductor, was best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a Jew, his career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis. He found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. 

David Mellor says, 'He was a man of the world in the best sense of the word because he had been a displaced person. This is the man who conducted the first ever studio recording of Wagner's Ring.'

More from David Mellor on Solti

Hans Hotter (1909-2003)

The German bass-baritone was extremely tall with a striking appearance. His voice and diction were equally recognisable.

David Mellor says, 'In the 1950s and 1960s, he was the greatest of all Wotans in Wagner's Ring. A truly exceptional singer.'

More from David Mellor on Hotter

Astrid Varnai (1918-2006)

The American dramatic soprano of Hungarian heritage and Swedish birth, worked mostly in the U.S.A. and Germany. Her voice on record is readily recognisable by its seemingly limitless upper register.

David Mellor says, 'She was an extraordinary lady who continued well into her 70s. One of the great Brunnhildes.'