Antal Doráti was born in
Budapest, where his father Alexander Doráti was a violinist with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra and his mother Margit Kunwald was a piano teacher.
He studied at the
Franz Liszt Academy with
Zoltán Kodály and
Leo Weiner for composition and
Béla Bartók for piano. His links with Bartók continued for many years: he conducted the world premiere of Bartók's
Viola Concerto, as completed by
Tibor Serly, with the
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1949, with
William Primrose as the soloist.
He made his conducting debut in 1924 with the
Budapest Royal Opera.
As well as composing original works, he compiled and
arranged pieces by
Johann Strauss II for the
Graduation Ball (1940), premiered by the Original Ballet Russe in
Sydney, Australia, with himself on the conductor's podium. For Ballet Theatre (later renamed
American Ballet Theatre) he created scores for the ballets
Bluebeard (1941) from music by
Jacques Offenbach and
The Fair at Sorochinsk (1943) from music by
His autobiography, Notes of Seven Decades, was published in 1979. In 1983,
Queen Elizabeth II made Doráti an
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE). This entitled him to use the post-nominal letters KBE. By convention honorary knights do not generally use the "Sir" unless they subsequently acquire UK citizenship.
His wife was
Ilse von Alpenheim, an Austrian pianist. Doráti died at the age of 82 in