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"When I got it," he said, "it had no stringsbut chains!" The contract gave him first choice of what pieces would be played during the season, but no control over what guest conductors played, no say in the choice of his guests and soloists unless the board and Judson chose to consult him. Rodzinski was fuming over these terms when Edward L. Ryerson, board chairman of Inland Steel Co. and head of the Chicago Symphony, called on him in Manhattan during the holidays.
When Rodzinski faced the Philharmonic executive committee last week, he knew he could have the Chicago job with the crook of a finger. So did the committee. He blew off at Arthur Judson, but if anyone thought Rodzinski was a white knight out to unseat music's Mr. Big, he was mistaken. "I don't hate Judson," Rodzinski said. "I've learned to eliminate hatred."
Holy Terror. Artur Rodzinski is a professional, in the strongest sense of the word: he is a professed musician. He regards music as his calling, and himself as consecrated to it. His devotion to his calling is selflessthough his selflessness is sometimes as hard to take as another man's selfishness.
He was born 53 years ago in the Dalmatian town of Spalato (now the Yugoslav town of Split) but spent his childhood in Lvov. His father was a Polish surgeon in the Austrian Army.
Artur was put at the piano at 6, became a page-turner at Lvov concerts at 15 and practiced furiously five and six hours a day. Once when his big brother Richard, trying to study medicine, shouted that he couldn't stand the noise, Artur slashed Richard's hand with a saber. "Our house," as he looks back on it, "was a madhouse." He became infatuated with the opera, joined the claque to get in free.
Rodzinski played the piano in a cabaret to support his first wife and their small son. It was a big break when the local opera director let him conduct Verdi's Ernani: "The smell of the scenery, the makeup, the wigs . . . you can't get it out of your system. Ask any opera man." In 1924 Leopold Stokowski, visiting Warsaw, met Rodzinski, later hired him as assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. When Rodzinski reached the U.S., the first thing "Stokie" did was to run his fingers through Rodzinski's slick and parted hair, "to give me a conductor's look." He did much more in the next four years, and Rodzinski is "incredibly grateful." But their temperaments did not mix well. Stokowski and Arthur Judson helped line up the run-down Los Angeles Symphony for Rodzinski. No admirer of Stokowski's lushed-up style, he says that Stokowski "plays music sexually."
After four years in Los Angeles, Rodzinski quarreled with the manager and headed for Cleveland. Toscanini heard one of his Cleveland broadcasts, and recommended him for the 1937 Salzburg Festival. And when Toscanini agreed to head the projected NBC Symphony, he insisted that Rodzinski should recruit the players.
The Cleveland musicians came to respect but never to love their abusive foreman. There was no big farewell party when he left in 1943, and his welcome to
New York was open warfare: even before he hit town he had fired 14 players, including Concertmaster Mishel Piastre.