Once every week, my father gave a concert……
... in the Hungarian Radio. One of the afternoons at five o'clock the music programme was to start with “Einzug der Gäste” from Tannhäuser. I shall never forget it, I still see the situation in my mind’s eye as if it was happening right now: The orchestra is seated and is tuning. It is ten to five, then eight to five. And quite contrary to his habit there is no sign of my father . The senior orchestra member approaches me – I had often been there, already as a young boy, and nearly all of them knew me by my first name – and he says: “Listen, the concert has to start. Are you ready to step in for your father and conduct?”
Of course I accepted with great enthusiasm. The radio announcer was very diplomatic and said:” Now follows a concert played by the orchestra of the First Infantry Regiment conducted by Fricsay.” The first name he held back.
I started nicely with the trumpet-fanfares and the March from Tannhäuser. In the middle of the piece the door opens, and I can still see my father in the doorway in his officer’s cape, thunder-struck, seeing his son conduct in his place. The next piece he conducted himself, of course.
After the concert he suddenly asked me out of the blue: ”How did you come to conduct in my place?” “Father, I wanted to save the situation. And besides, the senior orchestra member encouraged me. That’s why I did it.” My father looked me straight in the eye and was silent for a while. I felt very uncomfortable. Then he said:” By the way, it wasn’t bad at all.”