The academy gave me a grounding in discipline and hard work that has sustained me throughout my life, and the lessons I learned there I now try to impress on young people.
But one day, when I was still young, I was parted from my family and left my native country. I hunted and searched for music, and destiny turned me into the object of my hunt. The circumstances of life became my 'antlers' and prevented me from returning home.
During the first six years of my life, Hungary was one of the most important components of the Habsburg dynasty's vast Austro-Hungarian Empire, but after World War I it became an independent national entity.
I was born and trained to communicate music, just as the sons were born and trained to hunt, and I was lucky to have grown up in Hungary, a country that lives and breathes music-that has a passionate belief in the power of music as a celebration of life.
After about six months, I told my mother that I wanted the lessons to stop, and she was intelligent enough not to force me to continue. Besides, the lessons cost money, which was anything but abundant in our household.
Between the two men, somewhere, a truth is lying, and that is what I try to find.
Fight the tendency to become complacent and do one kind of music - that is the death of a musician.
Although both sides of my family were religious, I was never forced to practice the Jewish faith. I did not really rebel against it, but then, as today, I disliked organized religion. I have a strange inhibition about praying with others.
The experience awakened 'my tremendous musical ambition, which has never subsided to this day.
I would never have become music director of the Chicago Symphony, which would have been an extremely sad loss.
From Toscanini I learnt the essential and desperate seriousness of making music.