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Obituaries : Izler Solomon, 77; Frequent Guest at L.A. Philharmonic

December 08, 1987|BURT A. FOLKART | Times Staff Writer

Izler Solomon, long identified as the conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra but known locally for his frequent guest appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 1950s and '60s and particularly for his conducting of the American premiere of Darius Milhaud's epic opera "David" at the Hollywood Bowl in 1956, died Monday.

The one-time violinist was 77. He had been inactive since he suffered a stroke in 1976.

His son, David, said his father died in a hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., where the family had lived for several years.

Two Decades in Indianapolis

As a violinist, Solomon won the National Young Artists' Contest in 1931 and soon became concertmaster of the newly formed Lansing (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra. When the conductor's health failed, Solomon took over the podium and began a career that was to take him to Chicago, New Orleans and eventually Indianapolis, where he led the symphony from 1956 to 1975.

He had made his Hollywood Bowl debut in 1946 and for more than 20 years led the Los Angeles Philharmonic there for such guest artists as Artur Rubinstein, Jerome Hines, Jussi Bjoerling, and Walter Gieseking.

In Indianapolis, he brought the works of many modern American composers to local audiences and soon became known as a solid technician who could and did fill in as guest conductor on emergency notice.

It was as a young conductor that he had come under the influence of Leopold Stokowski, who disdained the baton, saying that "I dislike having a baton between me and the orchestra." But Solomon later recanted and warned other young conductors to learn to use it.

Appearances Were Limited

Although Solomon was to lead orchestras in many major cities, policy in Indianapolis was that their conductor direct nearly all the symphony's 130 concerts, severely limiting his appearances elsewhere.

Although Solomon, in a 1967 interview with The Times, acknowledged that "it is healthy for the orchestra to be exposed to other attitudes and techniques," he defended the Indianapolis stay-at-home policy for creating a fellowship within his symphony in which "we respond to each other as intimates."

Survivors include his son and a granddaughter. At his request there will be no services and contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Assn.

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