Artist database

This is the Artist Database of BMC, which includes information about composers, musicians, orchestras, choirs and groups that are either Hungarian or Hungarian by origin or live in Hungary, as well as information about releases recorded with them.

Somogyi László


Place of Birth
Date of Birth

25 June 1907 Budapest – 20 May 1988 Genf (Switzerland)

Conductor, who became famous through the excellent interpretation of works by twentieth century composers (mainly by Bartók and Kodály).

He started his music studies with playing the violin and the piano, and then he continued it at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, where he studied composing in the class of Zoltán Kodály (1930-1935). From 1932 to 1936 he worked as violinist of the Budapest Concerto Orchestra. In Brussels 1935 he attended the conductor training course of Hermann Schrechen.

As conductor he debuted 1936 in the Large Hall of Music Academy, later he introduced himself in Belgium, the Netherlands and in Vienna, too. In 1939 he founded the OMIKE (Goldmark) Orchestra and he was also the leader of it until 1943. From 1945 to 1950 he was leading conductor of the Municipal Orchestra, then of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Hungarian Radio (1951-1956).

He emigrated in 1956 and lived in the late ‘50s in Western Europe, and in the ‘60s in the United States. In 1964 he became music director of the New York Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Until 1970 he was leader of the orchestra, and then he moved back to Europe and settled down in Genf.

Throughout his career he performed with such famous artists as David Ojsztrah, Yehudi Menuhin or Tito Schipa. He was an active teacher as well: he taught at the conducting department of the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy (1949-1956) and held master courses in Siena at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana (1964) and in frames of the Bartók Seminar in Szombathely.

In Hungary he introduced the works of numerous contemporary Hungarian composers (like Leó Weiner, Sándor Veress, Ferenc Farkas, Rezső Kókai and Rezső Sugár). The foreign first performances of Bartók’s and Kodály’s compositions are related to his name.

His artistic achievements were honored with the Kossuth Prize (1951), the title Merited Artist (1952) and the title Excellent Artist (1955).