George Richard Marek

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George Richard Marek (13 July 1902 – 7 January 1987) was an American music executive and author of biographies of classical composers.

Marek was born in Vienna, the son of dentist Martin Marek and Emily Weisberger. From 1918, Marek studied at the University of Vienna until he emigrated to the United States in 1920, where he became a citizen in 1925. He married Muriel Heppner the following year; the couple had one son, Richard.

Marek's first job in the US was as a stock boy in the ostrich-feather department of a milliner, but he soon became involved in advertising. From 1930 until 1950 he was vice president of the J. D. Tarcher Agency. In 1950 Marek unsuccessfully attempted to gain RCA's advertising account for Tarcher; instead, he was offered the position of manager of artists and repertory at RCA Victor. Seven years later he became vice president and general manager of RCA Victor; he remained in that position until 1972.

When he grew up in Vienna, Marek had regularly visited the Vienna State Opera; after his arrival in New York City, he became a devoted standee at the old Metropolitan Opera House. Marek was the music editor of Good Housekeeping from 1941 until 1957 and a co-founder of the Reader's Digest Record Club. He was for many years a panel member on the radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera Quiz.

Marek introduced some pronounced changes in the marketing of classical music at RCA. Record jackets became more colorful and classical records were sold in drugstores and supermarkets. He was responsible for the album Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music in 1953. Marek was instrumental in promoting the recordings of pianists Gary Graffman and Arthur Rubinstein and conductors Pierre Monteux, Fritz Reiner, and Arturo Toscanini.

Marek continued in retirement as a consultant to RCA and the Reader's Digest Record Club. He died at the age of 84 at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City; he was survived by his wife and their son, and two brothers, Carl and Frederick, both of Manhattan, and a sister, Anneliese Fish, of White Plains.

Some of his books have been translated into other languages. Marek also wrote magazine articles, e.g. for Harper's Bazaar, and liner notes; he was nominated for the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes for Beethoven: The Five Piano Concertos, with Daniel Barenboim conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Arthur Rubinstein playing the piano.

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External images
Photograph of David Merrick and George R. Marek