Maestro Dorati
Doráti in context
Dorati as a youth
Antal Doráti at seventeen: drawing by his uncle, Cesar Kunwald


If musical disparagements were to be ranked in order of popularity, the term conductors music, first encountered in the nineteenth century, would come close to the top of the list; one of the most prominent targets of such attacks was Gustav Mahler, a highly respected conductor and in his own time generally derided as a composer. Even a figure such as Bach or Handel would have had problems with the thrust of such a reproach, but for them the unity of inspiration and realisation was still self-evident and it was not yet regarded as wrong for a musician also to compose.
  Only an age, where the number of possible specialist professions has grown boundlessly, could ring fence composition in a position of exclusivity and regard with suspicion a purely recreative conductor as one who had not been called to this vocation. Be that as it may, the very fact that until the nineteenth century there was no orchestral music other than conductor's music, casts doubt on such a way of thinking...
...No composer writes music in a vacuum and only a few receive their inspiration in spontaneous pre-formulated guise, as the aesthetics of genius would prefer. The examination of tradition either at a conscious or a subliminal level, is unique to every significant creation. This examination was constantly in the mind of Antal Doráti and while he aligned himself with traditional musical art rather than categorically new sound art, he was anything but a nostalgic composer. Indeed, he consciously took up modern elements in a musical oeuvre that is, 'much more contemporary than it sounds' - this at least was the verdict of one critic whom Doráti liked to quote, as its essential combination of emotion and intellect appealed to him.
So let us therefore look beyond the fact that Doráti is remembered as one of the finest conductors and most influential orchestral trainers of the last century, not least because he saw composition as his true vocation and in all modesty, he regarded himself not as a 'conductor who composes' but, as a 'composer who conducts'.
Horst A Scholz (2002)