Born: April 3, 1913 - Györ, Hungary
Died: June 22, 1996 - San Jose, California, USA
The Hungarian-born American cellist, conductor, and composer, George Barati, (real name, Gyorgy Braunstein), got initial training at the Györ Music School (graduated, 1932). Then he studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest (graduated, 1935; teacher's diploma, 1937; artist diploma, 1938). From 1933 to 1936 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 and cellist of the Pro Ideale Quartet (later Westminster) (1936-1939), and studied or performed with Béla Bartók, Dohnanyi, and other eminent faculty members at the Liszt Conservatory. While still a student he became first cellist of Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Municipal Opera orchestra (1936-1938).
In 1939 George Barati emigrated to the USA, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1944. He he studied composition with Georges Couvreur and Henri Switten at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. (1938-1939), and with Roger Sessions at Princeton University (1939-1943). Then taught cello at Princeton University (1939-1943). He also conducted the Princeton Ensemble and Choral Union (1941-1943) and the Alexandria (La.) Military Symphony. Orchestra (1944-1946).
In 1946 George Barati moved to San Francisco, where he was a cellist of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra during the tenure of Pierre Monteux. He was also a member of the California String Quartet (1946-1950). He also was founding conductor and music director 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 George Barati was music director of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra 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 he left Honolulu to become executive director of the Montalvo Center for the Arts and conductor of the Villa Montalvo Chamber Orchestra in Saratoga, California (1968-1978). From 1971 to 1980 he was music director of the Santa Cruz County Symphony Orchestra in Aptos, California. He then was music director of the Barati Ensemble (1989-1992). In 1991 the George Barati Archive was opened at the University of California at Santa Cruz Library.
In addition to his conducting career, George Barati was a juror for the Dimitri 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, Naumberg Award for Composition in 1959, the Ditson Award in 1962, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965-1966.
As a composer, George Barati wrote fine music in a modern European tradition. During his stay in Hawaii, he studied native melodic and rhythImic patterns of exotic South Sea islands, and these found reflection in some of his works of the period.