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George Barati (1913-1996) was a distinguished cellist, conductor, and composer. Born in Gyor, Hungary, Barati lived in the United States beginning in 1938. His recollections include highlights of his international career as cellist, conductor, and composer spanning some 60 years, and reflections on the state of the musical arts in the United States since the end of World War II.
Barati graduated from the Franz Liszt Conservatory of Music in Budapest in 1935. During the 1930s he was a member of the Budapest Concert Orchestra, where he played under the most celebrated conductors of his era. He was a founding member of the Pro Ideale Quartet and studied or performed with Bartok, Dohnanyi, and other eminent faculty members at the Liszt Conservatory. While still a student he became first cellist with the Budapest Symphony and the Municipal Opera. Barati settled in the United States in Princeton, New Jersey in 1938. There he taught cello at Princeton University and studied composition with Roger Sessions from 1938 to 1943.
In 1946 Barati moved to San Francisco, where he was a member of the San Francisco Symphony during the tenure of Pierre Monteux. He was also a member of the California String Quartet and founding conductor of the Barati Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco from 1948 to 1952. Barati also began to achieve recognition for his own compositions at this time.
From 1950 to 1968, Barati was music director of the Honolulu Symphony and Opera. During this period he also began an extensive international conducting career that included guest and visiting conducting appearances with some 85 orchestras on five continents, including Japan, Europe, and Latin America.
In 1968 Barati returned to the mainland and became executive director of the Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts and conductor of the Villa Montalvo Chamber Orchestra in Saratoga, California. From 1971 to 1980 he was music director of the Santa Cruz County Symphony.
In addition to his conducting career, he was a juror for the Mitropoulos Competition for Conductors from 1957 to 1970 and participated as a juror for both the Metropolitan and San Francisco Opera Competitions. His honors and awards include the doctor of music, Honoris Causa, from the University of Hawaii in 1955, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965-66, the Ditson Award in 1962, and the Naumberg Award for Composition in 1959.