PHILADELPHIA — Eugene Ormandy, who conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra for 44 years, died today at his home, the orchestra association announced. He was 85.
The cause of death was listed as pneumonia, a complication of a longstanding heart condition. At Ormandy's side when he died was his wife, Margaret.
Ormandy had led a major world orchestra longer than any other conductor when he retired in 1980.
He was born in Budapest on Nov. 18, 1899, and made his debut as a concert violinist at age 7. Three years later, he was performing for the Royal Family of Austria-Hungary.
He came to the United States in 1921, seeking fame and fortune, but found himself without work. While playing in the last seat of the Capital Theater Orchestra in New York, he got a break when Major Edward Bowes, who later was known for his amateur hour, asked him to conduct.