Capture

Like the previously posted Chicago, the Beautiful from 1948, another vintage film—providing a snapshot of a now-historic Chicago era—has been recently discovered.

The story behind the ca. 1940 film (via DNAinfo Chicago) is here, and the complete thirty-two-minute film can be viewed (via vimeo) below.

Enjoy!

Earlier today we heard of the news of the death of the remarkable English bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, as reported in The Telegraph.

Shirley-Quirk appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of important occasions, as listed below (all appearances are subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

John Shirley Quirk

August 30, 31 & September 1, 1971 (recording sessions at the Sofiensaal in Vienna)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Heather Harper, soprano
Lucia Popp, soprano
Arleen Augér, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
René Kollo, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Singverein Chorus
Helmut Froschauer, chorus master
Vienna Boys’ Choir
Georg Solti, conductor

December 16, 17 & 18, 1971
BACH Mass in B Minor
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Luigi Alva, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 27, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BRITTEN War Requiem
István Kertész, conductor (orchestra)
György Fischer, conductor (chamber orchestra)
Margaret Hillis, conductor (children’s chorus)
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Northwestern University Chorus and Concert Choir
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

July 3, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Maria Ewing, soprano
James Levine, conductor

Mahler's Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

May 15, 16 & 17, 1980
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A Sea Symphony
Raymond Leppard, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

March 5, 6 & 7, 1981
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Maximillian Schell, narrator
Philip Langridge, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Aage Haugland, bass
Rockwell Blake, tenor
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 3, 4 & 5, 1982
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
Benita Valente, soprano
Katherine Ciesinski, mezzo-soprano
Jon Frederic West, tenor
Kurt Link, bass (Shirley-Quirk canceled due to illness and was replaced by Link on June 5 only)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2 & 4, 1984
MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Ruggero Raimondi, bass
Zehava Gal, mezzo-soprano
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Jennifer Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Langridge, tenor
Hartmut Welker, baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
Kaludi Kaludov, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Sergei Kopchak, bass
Kurt Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
Bradley Nystrom, bass-baritone
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Dale Prest, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

To celebrate Pierre Boulez‘s 89th birthday on March 26, below please find today’s assignment, your reading list of books—by and about our Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus—available in the Rosenthal Archives:

Notes of an Apprenticeship - Pierre Boulez

Notes of an Apprenticeship was originally published in French in 1966 and again in English in 1968 by Alfred A. Knopf, as translated by Herbert Weinstock. Boulez commented: “It becomes evident that the parallel between Bach and Schoenberg is devoid of any real significance. Were there place for such a comparison, it could be only with Webern. Considering the respective positions of Bach and Webern—the one in relation to the tonal language, the other with regard to the serial language—one could state that they were situated symmetrically; we could even borrow from geometry the word ‘antiparallel’ to define more exactly the relationships that could be conceived between Bach and Webern. The former displays chiefly an activity of extension . . . the latter is involved essentially in the conquest of a new world.”

Boulez on Music Today - Pierre Boulez

In 1971 Harvard University Press published Boulez on Music Today, translated by Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett (originally published in French in 1963). Boulez writes: “Is the composer then only a pretext? Michel Butor, at the end of his essay on [Charles] Baudelaire, gives a definitive answer to this objection. ‘Some people,’ he writes, ‘may think that, while intending to write about Baudelaire, I have only succeeded in speaking of myself. It would certainly be better to say that it was Baudelaire who spoke of me. He speaks of you.’ If you question the masters of an earlier period with perseverance and conviction you become the medium of their replies: they speak of you through you.”

Boulez - Composer, Conductor, Enigma - Joan Peyser

Joan Peyser‘s Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma was published in 1976 by Schirmer, during Boulez’s tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic. Boulez studied with Olivier Messiaen in Paris in the 1940s, and the author describes one of their regular encounters: “After class they would often ride the Metro together. Boulez would say, ‘Musical aesthetics are being worn out. Music itself will die. Who is there to give it birth?’ Messiaen replied, ‘You will, Pierre.’”

Boulez - Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths, for Oxford University Press in 1978, wrote Boulez for the Oxford Studies of Composers series. On Boulez’s masterpiece Le marteau sans maître, Griffiths commented: “[The work] does indeed owe its effect to the completeness with which the delirium of a violent surrealism is considered and organized, to a rational technique’s straining to encompass the extremes of the irrational. Its importance lies also in Boulez’s discovery, through his proliferating serial method, of the means to create music which neither apes the quasi-narrative forms of tonality nor contents itself with simple symmetries in the manner of Structures. This was the discovery that Boulez celebrated at the close of his dictionary definition of ‘series’: ‘Classical tonal thought,’ he wrote, ‘is based on a universe defined by gravitation and attraction; serial thought is on a universe in perpetual expansion.’”

Orientations - Pierre Boulez

Orientations: Collected Writings by Pierre Boulez is the most fascinating and indeed, the most dense of all of the books available (edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, translated by Martin Cooper, and published in 1986 by Harvard University Press; the original was published in French in 1981). On Richard Wagner: “If Wagner’s personality has been—still is, indeed—the subject of such passionate controversy, it is because his ambition was great, indeed limitless. So much the better! What we call romanticism was a great adventure, a bold undertaking of the human spirit, and it must be remembered by something more than a few heroic trifles and pathetic nostalgias. People often try to reduce it to nothing more than that—some faintly extravagant mannerisms, some eccentric attitude or cheap and obvious sentimentality. How wrong it is to see romanticism as anything so feeble as a mere consolation—as it were—for living in such hard times as ours. The claims made by Wagner’s great undertaking [the Ring cycle] were something very different from that; and if in some ways that undertaking failed—and failed disastrously—there is no denying that in other ways it succeeded beyond all imagination.”

Pierre Boulez - Dominique Jameux

In 1991 Harvard University Press published Susan Bradshaw’s translation of Dominque Jameux’s Pierre Boulez, an extensive biography on the composer and conductor (originally published in French in 1984). “Boulez’s thinking is digital rather than analogical. Faced with the offer of a new reality, his reactions are immediate and decisive. He is at ease when confronted with opening-up processes as long as they have a practical application, and are approached successively as the need arises. . . . Boulez thinks in terms of options rather than progressive evolution. Like most intellectuals, he is doubtless afflicted by uncertainty, self-questioning and irresolution, even if he hardly ever lets it appear so. He acts as he thinks—positively. Outwardly he gives an impression of resolution, mental alacrity, perseverance, and self-justification—inwardly, one of evaluation, amendment, realism, and self-criticism.”

Pierre Boulez - A Symposium - William Glock

Pierre Boulez: A Symposium is a collection of essays edited by William Glock and published by Eulenburg Books in 1986. In the chapter dedicated to Boulez’s compositions for piano, Charles Rosen begins: “The Sonatas for piano Nos. 1 and 2, along with the Flute Sonatine, are the first items to be admitted to the canon of works acknowledged by Pierre Boulez. Music for keyboard is a traditional outlet for experimentation: it allows an immediate control over the musical idea. If the composer is even a modest pianist, it enables him to escape (momentarily) from the terror of being interpreted; and the limitation of tone-color and range is a positive advantage even for composers for whom timbre is not a compositional element clearly subordinate to pitch—the limited timbre of the piano acts as a focus. Music for piano has therefore become, starting with Beethoven, a convenient form of announcing a revolution in style: Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, and Schoenberg are the most conspicuous examples of composers who used the piano for this purpose. In spite of later developments, the piano work which initiates a change of direction often indicates at once the nature of the revolution and suggests its limits.”

Conversations with Boulez - Jean Vermeil

Jean Vermeil’s Conversations with Boulez: Thoughts on Conducting—originally published in French in 1989—was published in 1996 by Amadeus Press in Camille Naish’s translation. On conducting without a baton: “So, the baton? The more one is inclined toward contemporary music, the less one needs this particular extension. There’s a certain technique involved: the accuracy of the gesture resides in a perfect coincidence between arm, hand, and intention—and what one can physically execute, as well. And so, especially for phrasing, both hands are needed.”

The Boulez-Cage Correspondence - Jean-Jacques Nattiez

“Between May 1949 and August 1954 the composers Pierre Boulez and John Cage exchanged a series of remarkable letters which reflect on their own music and the music and culture of the time. . . . At the time, Cage and Boulez were great friends and these amicable letters reflect their differing ideas on the course new music should take. While Boulez was thinking about forms of serialism, Cage was moving in the direction of ever greater compositional freedom and chance procedures.” This excerpt is part of the introduction to The Boulez–Cage Correspondence, edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez and translated and edited by Robert Samuels, and published in English by Cambridge University Press in 1993 (originally published in French and English in 1990).

Rationalizing Culture - Georgina Born

Georgina Born‘s Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde was published by the University of California Press in 1995. Boulez’s words, from the introduction: “The creator’s intuition alone is powerless to provide a comprehensive translation of musical invention. It is thus necessary for him to collaborate with the scientific research worker in order to envision the distant future, to imagine less personal, and thus broader, solutions. . . . The musician must assimilate a certain scientific knowledge, making it an integral part of his creative imagination.”

To Boulez and Beyond - Joan Peyser

Peyser’s second book concerning Boulez—To Boulez and Beyond: Music in Europe Since The Rite of Spring—was published in 1999 by Billboard Books. “What Boulez set out to do was ‘to strip music of its accumulated dirt and give it the structure it had lacked since the Renaissance.’ He went into it, ‘with exaltation and fear. It was like [René] Descartes‘s “Cogito, ergo sum.” I momentarily suppressed inheritance. I started from the fact that I was thinking and went on to construct a musical language from scratch.’”

Dialogues with Boulez - Rocco Di Pietro

Scarecrow Press in 2001 published Dialogues with Boulez by Rocco Di Pietro. In Boulez’s words: “Well, when I think of myself as a composer, there are two things in me: the side of the performer and the side of the composer. That’s the same person, of course. But the approach is not exactly the same because, even when I conduct my own works I have some distance with them, not at all like when you are composing. As a composer, yes, you have to be at the same time adventurous, so you don’t know what you will discover; I mean, you are on the path of a discovery and you know it. And you go about this in various ways. For instance, imitation or absorption is one way. You hear something. Or if you see something—a painting; or if you read a book, especially when you are in an overlapping configuration or discipline which is not musical at all. Like painting, for example: suddenly you see someone’s work who has found a solution to the problem, and it may be that you can say, ‘Oh, for my problem that can also apply.’ Of course, you have to transcend that, to find your own solution. It can provoke a solution. That’s what I call not so much imitation, really, but absorption.”

Boulez on Conducting - Pierre Boulez

Boulez on Conducting: Conversations with Cécile Gilly was first published in French in 2002. Richard Stokes’s translation was published the following year by Faber and Faber. When asked about how conducting had provided the composer a practical side, Boulez replied: “It has caused me to reflect on speculation and performance. They are like two mirrors. You have the mirror of speculation and the mirror of performance, which reflect each other. That is indispensable.”

Any questions?

Solti archive detail 1

Harvard University‘s Loeb Music Librarythe relatively new home of Sir Georg Solti‘s collection of scores—has just launched a fantastic new website: Music, First and Last: Scores from the Sir Georg Solti Archive.

From the site: “The Sir Georg Solti Archive in the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library at Harvard University, a gift of the Solti family, includes hundreds of conducting scores heavily marked and annotated by Solti, representing an extensive body of work of significance to scholars and musicians across the globe. Accumulated over the course of a career that spanned more than six decades, these scores illustrate how Solti’s interpretations developed, how he solved musical problems, and how he adapted performances to suit a particular context. Many of the scores in this exhibit illustrate stages in the evolution of his interpretations; even in the recording studio he employed different color pencils when reviewing progressive ‘takes.’ The breadth of this collection, encompassing music from the 18th century to commissions from contemporary composers, indicates the extraordinary scope and variety of Solti’s musical interests. The achievements of his illustrious career secure his legacy as one of the foremost musicians of the 20th century. Throughout this exhibit, pages from scores in the Sir Georg Solti Archive are paired with audio clips demonstrating Solti’s interpretive choices.”

Solti archive detail 2

One example is David Del Tredici’s Final Alice, which had its world premiere in Chicago in October 1976. From the site: “In the composer’s words, ‘Final Alice unfolds a series of elaborate arias interspersed and separated by dramatic episodes from the last two chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the Trial in Wonderland (which gradually turns to pandemonium) and Alice’s awakening to “dull reality.” To these I have added an Apotheosis. The work teeters between the worlds of opera and symphonic music, and were I to invent a category I would call Final Alice an “Opera, written in concert form”‘ (notes to recording, Decca 442 9955). Shown here is the beginning of the ‘Acrostic Song,’ the work’s concluding section, in which ‘those members of the orchestra whose mouths are not otherwise employed’ whisper the letters which spell out the name ‘ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL.’”

The site also includes several videotaped interviews with Lady Valerie Solti and Robert Dennis (curator and recordings collections librarian at Harvard) on a variety of topics, including this discussion of Béla Bartók.

Congratulations to our colleagues at Harvard!

Ray Still - 1950s

Orchestral and chamber musician, soloist with countless ensembles, and lifelong teacher and coach Ray Still—a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s oboe section for forty years, serving as principal for thirty-nine years—died peacefully on March 12, 2014, surrounded by family in Woodstock, Vermont. He was 94.

Born on March 12, 1920, in Elwood, Indiana, Still began playing clarinet as a teenager. During the Great Depression, his family moved to California, where he was able to regularly hear performances of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a volunteer usher. After hearing the masterful technique and elegant phrasing of Henri de Busscher—principal oboe in Los Angeles from 1920 until 1948—Still switched to the oboe.

Still graduated from Los Angeles High School and at the age of nineteen joined the Kansas City Philharmonic as second oboe in 1939, where he was a member until 1941 (and also where he met and married Mary Powell Brock in 1940). For the next two years, he studied electrical engineering, served in the reserve US Army Signal Corps, and worked nights at the Douglas Aircraft factory. During the height of World War II, Still joined the US Army in September 1943 and served until June of 1946.

Immediately following his honorable discharge from the Army, Still enrolled at the Juilliard School where he studied with Robert Bloom. The following year in 1947, he began a two-year tenure as principal oboe with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of William Steinberg. Beginning in 1949, Still was principal oboe of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for four years.

Fritz Reiner and the newest members of the Orchestra in the fall of 1953. From left to right: Nathan Snader, violin; Juan Cuneo, violin; Joseph Golan, violin; Alan Fuchs, horn; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; Ray Still, oboe; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; and János Starker, cello.

Fritz Reiner and the newest members of the Orchestra in the fall of 1953. From left to right: Nathan Snader, violin; Juan Cuneo, violin; Joseph Golan, violin; Alan Fuchs, horn; Ray Still, oboe; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; and János Starker, cello.

In the fall of 1953, Still auditioned for Fritz Reiner, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recently named music director. Reiner invited him to be the Orchestra’s second-chair oboe and the following year promoted him to the principal position. Still would serve the Orchestra in that capacity—under music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—until his retirement in 1993.

Still appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as soloist on countless occasions, including the Orchestra’s first performances of works for solo oboe by Albinoni, Bach, Barber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Telemann. His extensive discography includes Bach’s Wedding Cantata on RCA with Kathleen Battle as soloist and James Levine conducting, and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C minor on Deutsche Grammophon with Claudio Abbado conducting.

Still performed with numerous other ensembles including the Juilliard, Vermeer, and Fine Arts string quartets; he recorded with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Lynn Harrell; and regularly appeared at many music festivals, including those at Aspen, Stratford, and Marlboro, among others.

A tireless educator, Still taught at the Peabody Institute from 1949 until 1953, Roosevelt University from 1954 until 1957, and at Northwestern University for forty-three years until 2003. Throughout his tenure with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he coached members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. At the invitation of Seiji Ozawa, he spent the summers of 1968 and 1970 as a visiting member of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo, where he held coaching sessions for the wind section, conducted chamber music classes, and lectured at Toho University.

Ray Still - 1970s

Following his retirement from Northwestern, he moved to Annapolis, Maryland—where he continued to give master classes and lessons—with his beloved wife Mary and son James to live near his daughter Susan. In 2013, he moved to Saxtons River and later Woodstock, Vermont, where he lived near Susan, his granddaughter Madeline, and her two daughters.

Still is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Mimi and Kent Dixon of Springfield, Ohio; his son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Sally Still of Big Timber, Montana; his daughter and son-in-law, Susan Still and Peter Bergstrom of Saxtons River, Vermont; six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death in 2012 by his wife of almost 72 years, Mary Brock Still, and his son James Still.

Services will be private and details for a memorial in Chicago are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Institute for Learning, Access, and Training at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

When interviewed for an article in the Chicago Tribune in 1988, Still was asked why he thought the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was the world’s greatest. His reply: “It’s like a great baseball team. We have a blend of youth and experience, and they work very well together. A lot of orchestras have this. The thing that makes the Chicago Symphony Orchestra very unusual is the tremendous—I hate to use the word—discipline. There is a certain pride, and I think it goes back to the days of Theodore Thomas, the founder. There is something about the tradition of this Orchestra and the level the main body of musicians has come to expect of itself. There’s just a longer line of tradition.”

More information can be found at www.raystill.com.

We frequently receive donations of a variety of materials, and just recently several vintage advertisements arrived in our mailbox. A sampling is below.

here's the caption

Advertisement for Jacques Thibaud’s recital at Orchestra Hall on March 4, 1918

French violinist Jacques Thibaud appeared in recital at Orchestra Hall on March 4, 1918, under the auspices of the Musicians Club of Women. According to a review in the Chicago Tribune, he was accompanied primarily by pianist Nicolai Schneer in works by Wieniawski and Saint-Saëns and on the organ by Tina Mae Haines for a “brief concerto by Vivaldi-Nachez.” The reviewer noted that Thibaud also “inserted Bach’s chaconne by request. He would have been in the season’s fashion had he done so without request. And he would have been more entertaining in this recital had he ignored the request; for he did not play it with charm or spark. This is, perhaps, the expected memorandum on anybody’s playing the chaconne with [Jascha] Heifetz‘s performance still in the ear; but it is a piece that had been played badly and played well before Heifetz came. It doesn’t ‘lie’ for Thibaud’s especial talent, maybe.”

Front of a photo postcard of violinist Amy Neill . . .

Front of a photo postcard of violinist Amy Neill . . .

. . . and the reverse of the postcard, announcing her Orchestra Hall recital on April 9, 1924

. . . and the reverse of the postcard, announcing her Orchestra Hall recital on April 9, 1924

American violinist Amy Neill appeared in recital on April 9, 1924, having appeared at Orchestra Hall at least once previously, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in April 1921 as soloist in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Frederick Stock conducting. Her recital program included Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D major (it is not clear if it was no. 2 or no. 4), D’Ambrosio’s Violin Concerto in B minor, and Sarasate’s Introduction and Tarantelle, along with a number of Fritz Kreisler arrangements. Her accompanist was Isaac van Grove. Neill appeared again with the Orchestra and Stock in January 1926, in Glazunov’s Violin Concerto. Her program biography from those appearances indicate that she was born in Chicago and had studied with Hugo Kortschak (a member of the CSO’s first violin section beginning in 1907 and assistant concertmaster from 1910 until 1914). Neill had spent some of her early career in Europe, appearing as soloist with the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Vienna Symphony.

here's the caption

Advertisement for Gregor Piatigorsky’s appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on February 23, 1932

A frequent and favorite guest artist, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky was in town to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 21 and 22, 1932, in Boccherini’s Cello Concero in B-flat major and Bloch’s Schelomo under the baton of Frederick Stock. He returned for a Tuesday subscription concert on February 23 for Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto in A minor and a repeat of the Bloch, again with Stock conducting. Edward Moore’s newspaper account in the Chicago Tribune—devoted primarily to the world premiere of John Alden Carpenter’s Song of Faith (celebrating the bicentennial of Georg Washington‘s birth and performed twice, near the beginning and at the end of the concert)—noted: “Then, too, Gregor Piatigorsky, who plays the cello as easily as other persons play the violin, came as soloist, with a brilliant performance of Saint-Saëns’s Concerto in A minor and Bloch’s earnest if somewhat laborious Schelomo. All in all, it was a program of unusual construction, but a highly enjoyable one.”

On March 27, 1944, Chicago Tribune music critic Albert Goldberg reviewed an auspicious debut that had occurred the previous evening in Orchestra Hall:

Undated publicity photo of Maria von Trapp and her daughters with Franz Wasner at the keyboard

Undated publicity photo of Maria von Trapp (far left) and her daughters with Franz Wasner at the keyboard

“A musical event wholly out of the beaten path of such observances was the concert given by the Trapp Family Singers before a full house at Orchestra Hall yesterday afternoon. Present were Baroness Maria von Trapp and her daughters, Agathe, Johanna, Eleonore, Maria, Rosemarie, Hedwig, and Martina, who divide themselves into five sopranos and three contraltos, sometimes joined by the pleasant baritone of their conductor and family priest, Dr. Franz Wasner. Introduced, but silent, was the Baron von Trapp, the chaperon and father of this lively aggregation, and missing were Johannes, who tends the family farm in Vermont, and three [sic] other sons [there were ten children total, so the two other sons would have been Rupert and Werner] who are with the ski troops of the United States Army.

“The first and decidedly the more interesting half of their program reverted to the days when music making was an informal business in which any one who was any one socially took an active and expert part. The atmosphere was more that of the Elizabethan landed gentry than of the Austrian Tyrol, in whose native dirndls the daughters were dressed. But musically, which is what matters most, the style was flawless, the voices fresh and true, and for an enchanted hour one lived in the remote and delicious age of music’s innocence.” (The complete review is here.)

Tear-off flyer for the Trapp Family Singers' November 23, 1946, concert at Orchestra Hall (front)

Advertisement for the November 23, 1946, appearance

They returned later in 1944 for two concerts on December 3 and 10 and again, Goldberg praised: “The charm of the Trapps is the disarming intimacy and informality of their music making, coupled to professional standards which are no less exacting for their complete unobtrusiveness. They remove the solemnity of such often forbidding music as the ‘Ave Maria’ of de Victoria and the ‘Ave Verum’ of Josquin des Pres, and recreate it in terms of living warmth. Or they can toss off a madrigal, like Morley’s ‘Sing we and chant it,’ in the most faultless English style. And they have a sense of humor. Only eight people constantly subjected to the inconveniences of war time travel could put so much feeling into Mozart’s priceless little canon, ‘Bed is cozy.’” (The complete review of the December 3 concert is here.)

Postcard advertisement for the Trapp Family Singers' December 1945 appearances

Postcard advertisement for the Trapp Family Singers’ December 1945 appearances

For their appearances on December 3 and 8, 1945, Claudia Cassidy wrote: “So, you see, this really is a family affair, and just the place to take the family. For the music is fresh and lovely, with a twinkle, too, and it is so clean you almost feel the cool wind in your face, for the Trapps really belong outdoors. Along with their lovely carols and their dulcet sonatas for recorders and virginal, they don gala costume for folk songs and yodels of their native Austrian Tyrol, which they gave up for our Vermont when they could not see eye to eye with the Nazis on the subject of flying the swastika from their villa at Salzburg. [Heinrich] Himmler used that villa and fixed it all up, and Lotte Lehmann suggested the Trapps come over and sing for America.”

The Trapp Family Singers returned to perform at Orchestra Hall again on November 23, 1946; December 13, 1947; and November 29, 1948. And that tradition continues with the Von Trapps—the great-grandchildren of Georg and Maria—appearing with Pink Martini next Friday evening, March 7, 2014.

Programs for the two December 1945 concerts at Orchestra Hall

Programs for the two December 1945 concerts at Orchestra Hall

(and reverse)

Reverse of the advertisement for the November 23, 1946, concert

Program for the Trapp Family Singers' December 13, 1947, concert at Orchestra Hall

Program for the Trapp Family Singers’ December 13, 1947, concert at Orchestra Hall

Just before the opening of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s seventieth season, our sixth music director Fritz Reiner suffered a heart attack on October 7, 1960. He had been scheduled to conduct the first four weeks of concerts, but his recuperation forced the cancellation of his remaining appearances for the calendar year.

Maria Callas with Antonino Votto

Antonino Votto was one of Maria Callas‘s integral collaborators, leading many of her important productions at La Scala in the 1950s. He also was conductor of several of her landmark recordings on EMI including Puccini’s La bohème, Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, Bellini’s La sonnambula, and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.

Replacement conductors included CSO associate conductor Walter Hendl, Robert Shaw (leading Beethoven’s Missa solemnis), Erich Leinsdorf (to conduct a special Saturday evening concert on October 15 featuring the U.S. debut of Sviatoslav Richter as soloist in Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto), and Antonino Votto (who would soon become Riccardo Muti‘s conducting teacher).

Votto was in Chicago to make his debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago and (according to their Performance + Cast Archive) he led the season opening performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo on October 14, 21, and 24. The cast included Giulietta Simionato, Margherita Roberti, Richard Tucker, Tito Gobbi, and Boris Christoff. Votto also conducted performances of Verdi’s Aida on October 17, 19, 22, and 28, with a cast that included Leontyne Price, Simionato, Carlo Bergonzi, and Robert Merrill.

Antonino Votto and Guiomar Novaes's program book biographies

Antonino Votto and Guiomar Novaes’s program book biographies

According to an October 16, 1960, CSO press release: “Antonino Votto will conduct the subscription concerts in the third week of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s current season. The concerts of Tuesday afternoon, October 25, and the subscription pair of Thursday-Friday, October 27-28, originally scheduled for music director Fritz Reiner, will be directed by the Italian conductor who is currently in Chicago for his first season with the Lyric Opera. A leading conductor of both opera and symphony concerts at La Scala in Milan, Maestro Votto’s appearance with the Orchestra has been made possible through the courteous cooperation of Miss Carol Fox, General Manager of the Lyric Opera.”

October 25, 1960 - revised program

October 25, 1960 – revised program

October 25, 1960 - original program advertisement

October 25, 1960 – original program advertisement

Both programs were modified (see images right and below) to accommodate conductor and soloist. According to Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune regarding the first concert on October 25: “From the start of Haydn’s London Symphony thru the Mozart with Guiomar Novaes and Debussy’s Faun to the perfectly planned and executed climax of a stunning Pictures at an Exhibition this was a major concert on the sounder shores of style” (complete review is here). Also according to Cassidy, word traveled fast and the following two concerts on Thursday and Friday quickly sold out: “. . . Votto is a man to respect a score, an orchestra and a soloist. When you add that to knowing your business and you can work with other musicians on a high level remarkable things can happen. Such as orchestral equilibrium, a sense of proportion in displaying a soloist, a mounting excitement on the stage and in the audience. In other words, quite a concert” (complete review is here).

October 27 & 28, 1960 - revised program

October 27 & 28, 1960 – revised program

October 27 & 28, 1960 - original program advertisement

October 27 & 28, 1960 – original program advertisement

According to a newspaper account, Reiner—from his hospital bed at Presbyterian/Saint Luke’s—was able to hear a portion of the Friday afternoon matinee via “telephone from a remote pickup thru a microphone in the concert hall to a loudspeaker in the manager’s office.” Reiner’s statement: “Please convey my warm compliments on the splendid performance of Mme. Novaes and Maestro Votto. I enjoyed very much the finesse and style of the orchestra, which has been inoculated in the years of our association.”

Votto was re-engaged at Lyric the following season for Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor on October 14, 16, and 18, 1961 (with Joan Sutherland, Bergonzi, and Tucker); Giordano’s Andrea Chenier on October 20, and 25, 28 (with Shakeh Vartenissian and Jon Vickers); and the company premiere of Boito’s Mefistofele on October 21, 23, and 27 (with Ilva Ligabue, Christa Ludwig, Christoff, and Bergonzi).

Votto returned to Italy and in November 1962, twenty-one-year-old Riccardo Muti met him during his first year as a student at the Milan Conservatory. Muti remembers: “And then there was Votto, whom I recall so vividly. He was solemn and incredibly strict, and had worked with [Arturo] Toscanini during his years at La Scala. . . . Within a few days, however, I realized that Votto had taken a liking to me, to the point of giving me—as if to prefer me over less talented students, or ones he didn’t like as much—some pieces to conduct for the performances the following year. Not only did I take a class with him, but I also attended some of his rehearsals at La Scala. . . . I was particularly struck when he did Falstaff: he didn’t have the score! Now, it’s one thing to conduct from memory, but to try that with Falstaff is one of those things that just leaves you flabbergasted and makes you think that maybe, with such experts around, you’d best find another job. I asked him something along those lines, and he replied: ‘If you had worked with Him, you would do the same.’ ‘Him,’ of course, meant Toscanini, with whom such work was an intense, special months-long undertaking; after that, going on memory became spontaneous, the natural result of having complete mastery of the score. . . .

“Votto’s approach was based on conductorial efficiency, music for music’s sake, no frills, no bells and whistles, going straight to the heart of opera, only essential gestures, nothing more than was absolutely necessary. In his classes he’d often repeat, ‘Don’t annoy the orchestra.’ To the uninitiated that phrase might seem absurd or misleading, calling into question the orchestra conductor’s usefulness. In reality he just wanted to advise us that, once the orchestra was on an orderly, rhythmic path (the obvious outcome of long rehearsing), the maestro mustn’t disturb that natural gait, and must therefore avoid rash gestures while on the podium, steering clear of any temptation to become a court jester; basically, he mustn’t alter what the nature of the piece itself had established. And such a position was a clear, complete reflection of Arturo Toscanini’s.”

Their friendship continued well beyond the conservatory, and when Muti married Maria Cristina Mazzavillani on June 1, 1969, in Ravenna, Votto was best man (“while Sviatoslav Richter became our ad hoc photographer and took some of the best photos”).

Excerpts from Riccardo Muti, An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words.

Claudio Abbado, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985, recorded extensively with the Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus beginning in 1976 through 1991 on CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony, as well as several releases on the CSO’s From the Archives series. A complete list of those recordings is below.

Bartok Piano Concertos

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 1
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

Berlioz Symphonie fantastique x

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Isaac Stern, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

BRUCH Concerto for Violin No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

CHOPIN Concerto for Piano No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Ivo Pogorelich, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

GABRIELI Jubilate Deo and Miserere mei Deus from Sacrae symphoniae
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1986
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 13: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration)

Mozart and Haydn concertos

HAYDN Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

HAYDN Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello, Oboe, and Bassoon, Op. 84
Samuel Magad, violin
Frank Miller, cello
Ray Still, oboe
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 2: Soloists of the Orchestra)

MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Hanna Schwarz, mezzo-soprano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

Mahler Symphony No. 2

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Carol Neblett, soprano
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple, February 1976
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1979 and February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, January and February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op. 64
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major, K. 191
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Horn No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447
Dale Clevenger, horn
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C Major, K. 314
Ray Still, oboe
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Kyrie in D Minor, K. 341
Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield, associate director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov
Philip Langridge, tenor
Ruggero Raimondi, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1984
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

MUSSORGSKY Joshua
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Chorus of Priestesses from Salammbô
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

Prokofiev Scythian and Kije

PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé, Op. 60
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Scythian Suite
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

Tchaikovsky 1812

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 1 from The Nutcracker, Op. 71a
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17 (Little Russian)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 29 (Polish)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Feburary 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY The Tempest, Op. 18
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Le Voyevode, Op. 78
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

WAGNER A Faust Overture
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 5: Guests in the House)

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

Claudio Abbado

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Claudio Abbado, who served as our principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985. Abbado died peacefully on Monday, January 20 in Bologna, Italy, following a long illness. He was 80.

A frequent and beloved guest conductor, Abbado made his debut with the Orchestra in January 1971, leading three weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out concert to Milwaukee:

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971
January 11, 1971 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Josef Suk, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

debut program

. . . and Abbado’s program book biography

debut program page

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971, program page . . .

January 14 & 15, 1971
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Helen Watts, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Barbara Born, director

January 21, 22 & 23, 1971
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor

He returned to Chicago frequently, both before and after his tenure as principal guest conductor—also leading domestic tour concerts including stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Carnegie Hall—and his final appearances with the Orchestra were in March 1991. Abbado’s residencies included numerous collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and he also led the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on multiple occasions.

His repertoire with the Orchestra covered a broad spectrum including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky; concertos by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Bruch, Chopin, Hindemith, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, Schumann, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky; as well as twentieth-century works by Boulez, Ligeti, Rihm, and Webern. Some of Abbado’s most memorable concerts included complete performances of Berg’s Wozzeck, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Schoenberg’s Ewartung, Stockhausen’s Gruppen for Three Orchestras, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Pulcinella, and Verdi’s Requiem.

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg's Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg’s Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado collaborated with a vast array of soloists including instrumentalists Salvatore Accardo, Carter Brey, Natalia Gutman, Yuzuko Horigome, Zoltán Kocsis, Cecile Licad, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Shlomo Mintz, Viktoria Mullova, Ken Noda, Ivo Pogorelich, Maurizio Pollini, David Schrader, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Josef Suk, and Pinchas Zukerman; vocalists Francisco Araiza, Hildegard Behrens, Gabriela Beňačková, Rockwell Blake, Claudio Desderi, Maria Ewing, Donald Gramm, Aage Haugland, Marilyn Horne, Gwynne Howell, Philip Langridge, Benjamin Luxon, Carol Neblett, Margaret Price, Ruggero Raimondi, Samuel Ramey, Hanna Schwarz, Ellen Shade, John Shirley-Quirk, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, and Helen Watts; narrator Maximilian Schell; and CSO members Victor Aitay, Dale Clevenger, Willard Elliot, Adolph Herseth, Samuel Magad, Frank Miller, Mary Sauer, and Ray Still.

Following his last CSO guest conducting engagement in 1991, Abbado returned to Chicago on three occasions with the Berlin Philharmonic:

Berlin program

Abbado’s final appearance in Chicago, with the Berlin Philharmonic on October 10, 2001

October 22, 1993
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

October 18, 1999
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Anna Larsson, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director

October 10, 2001
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

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Theodore Thomas

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The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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