The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the Solti family in mourning the loss of Lady Valerie Solti. She died yesterday, March 31, 2021, at home in London. She was eighty-three.

Lady Solti in 2004

Born in Leeds, England on August 19, 1937, Valerie Pitts studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She was an actress before going to work for television in the 1960s, first at Granada, and later at the BBC, presenting and producing many programs. As a freelance broadcaster and writer, she later contributed to BBC Radio 3, BBC Music Magazine, Classic FM, Classic FM Magazine, LBC in the United Kingdom, and WFMT and WTTW in the United States.

In 1964, she was an arts journalist for the BBC magazine program Town and Around when she met Georg Solti, then music director at London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden. They married on November 11, 1967.

In 1969, Georg Solti became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director. His twenty-two-year tenure was marked by the Orchestra’s first tour to Europe in 1971, dozens of award-winning recordings, and numerous trips to Carnegie Hall. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in March 1972. Following the centennial season, Solti became music director laureate in 1991, continuing his association with the Orchestra during several weeks each year in concerts and recordings until his death on September 5, 1997.

Lady Solti also was a frequent presence onstage, performing as narrator for children’s concerts, as well as hosting the centennial gala concert on October 6, 1990, along with the Orchestra Hall centennial concert on December 14, 2004.

Together with her daughters, Valerie Solti created The Solti Foundation to assist young professional musicians at the start of their careers, and she was founder and chairperson of the Georg Solti Accademia and patron of the World Orchestra for Peace. She was an honorary trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and honorary chair of the Solti Foundation US.

Lady Solti is survived by her daughters Gabrielle (Frederic Dupas) and Claudia (Gary Ross) and grandchildren George, Amelie, Luna, and Mo. Details for services are pending.

Ralph Johnson and Lois Schaefer onstage with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in December 1953

If you’ve tuned into CSOtv recently, you may have noticed that in the December 1953 concert, Lois Schaefer is sitting in the first-chair position!

Hired by fifth music director Rafael Kubelík in 1951, Schaefer served the Orchestra as assistant principal flute until 1954. She was the third woman rostered in the flute section, following Caroline Solfronk Vacha (1943-1946) and Peggy Hardin (1945-1951).

Born in Yakima, Washington, on March 10, 1924, Schaefer attended the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as a teenager, later studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Georges Laurent (principal flute of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Frank Horsfall, and Sebastian Caratelli. She completed her bachelor’s of music in flute performance in 1946 and an artist diploma the following year.

Lois Schaefer in the 1960s (image courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

During her time in Chicago, Schaefer also taught at Chicago Musical College. By 1956, she returned east and was hired as principal flute of the New York City Opera, where she would remain for ten seasons. During this time, she also performed and recorded with the NBC Opera Theatre Orchestra, the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

In 1965, Schaefer was hired by then–music director Erich Leinsdorf to the position of flute and principal piccolo for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, her “dream job.” During her twenty-five-year tenure, she also served as principal piccolo for the Boston Pops Orchestra. “In more than 2,000 Boston Pops performances of [John Philip Sousa‘s] ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,’ a moment always arrived when Lois Schaefer was the star of the show,” wrote Bryan Marquard in the Boston Globe. “Though she was a master of the memorable piccolo solo that is the highlight of the song, she didn’t take her eyes off the musical score—not in her first concert, not in her 2,000th. She was determined to never make a mistake on her notoriously difficult instrument, which sometimes waits silently through portions of concerts, only to suddenly be highlighted for all ears to hear.”

Schaefer served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music from 1965 until 1992. She also was a board member of the National Flute Association, receiving their second-ever lifetime achievement award in 1993.

According to her sister Winifred Mayes, a cellist with the BSO from 1954 until 1964, Schaefer was “very, very happy in Boston. . . . She loved the orchestra and the people in it. She always felt very secure and warm towards them, and they towards her. I think it was perfect for her.”

Lois Schaefer in the late 1980s (photo courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

In her final season in Boston, Schaefer was soloist in Daniel Pinkham‘s Concerto Piccolo, written especially for her. Upon her retirement in 1990, Globe music critic Richard Dyer wrote, “For her twenty-five years as solo piccolo, Lois Schaefer has been the highest, brightest voice in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. . . . To hear her in a Rossini overture is like watching the sunlight dance on rippling water. She can also break your heart with a perfectly placed high pianissimo in a Mahler or Shostakovich slow movement.”

Lois Schaefer died at the home she shared with her sister in Sequim, Washington, on January 31, 2020, at the age of ninety-five. She was survived by her sister Winifred Mayes until her passing, also in Sequim, on December 15, 2020, at the age of one hundred and one.

Lois Schaefer performs as first-chair flute in a December 9, 1953, Hour of Music telecast, currently available on CSOtv. Guest conductor and former music director Désiré Defauw leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Grétry’s Three Dances from Cephalus and Procris, a suite from Fauré’s Pelleas and Melisande, and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony.

Special thanks to Bridget Carr and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives.

Gail Niwa makes her subscription concert debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto on February 9, 1995 (Jim Steere photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of pianist Gail Niwa, who passed away on February 9, 2021, at home in New York City, following a long illness. She was sixty-one.

Born in Chicago in 1959, Gail was the daughter of two professional musicians. Her mother (and first teacher) Eloise was an accomplished pianist and pedagogue, and her father Raymond was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s violin section from 1951 until 1997. David Niwa, Gail’s brother, also is a skilled violinist with degrees from the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, and he currently serves as asistant concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Together, the Niwa family claims a singular distinction: all four have been soloists with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

At the age of eight, Gail Niwa was a second-place winner (tying with cellist Gary Hoffman) in the CSO’s youth auditions on December 11, 1967, and she subsequently made her debut with the Orchestra on youth concerts on February 19 and April 8, 1968, performing the third movement of Haydn’s Piano Concerto no. 11 in D major with Irwin Hoffman conducting. She later appeared with the Orchestra on special Music is the Message concerts for high school students, performing Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto on March 7, 1972, and Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor (along with David Lackland) on April 8, 1975, both under the baton of Henry Mazer. A graduate of William Howard Taft High School, Niwa was a two-time Chicago City Parks tennis champion.

Gail Niwa and Gary Hoffman receive their youth soloist awards from Louis Sudler, president of the Orchestral Association, and Irwin Hoffman, associate conductor on December 11, 1967

On scholarship to the Juilliard School, Niwa earned bachelor and master’s degrees as a student of Adele Marcus. She was awarded first prize at the 1987 Washington International Competition, which led to her recital debut at the Kennedy Center. In 1991, She became the first woman to win the top prize at the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, receiving not only the gold medal but also the audience and chamber music prizes. This led to her debut at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in October of that year. Recognized as an excellent chamber musician, she received the award for best accompanist at the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition for violinists in Moscow.

She gave recitals in Athens, Miami, Montreal, Seoul, Toronto, and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and she also performed as soloist with the Augusta, Memphis, San Luis Obispo, Utah, Reno, and Grant Park symphony orchestras, and performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the California Philharmonic. Niwa also appeared with the Highland Park Strings, Kammergild Chamber Players in Saint Louis, the Ocean State Chamber Players, and the Banff Festival Chamber Orchestra, and she was a member of the Partita and Chelsea chamber ensembles in New York. With violinist David Kim, she made recordings for the Musical Heritage Society and Teldec labels, and with CSO bassoon Bruce Grainger on the Centaur label.

On April 4, 1993, Niwa made her Orchestra Hall recital debut on the Allied Arts series, performing the following program:

BACH/Busoni Chaconne from Unaccompanied Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58
SZYMANOWSKI Shéhérazade and Sérénade de Don Juan from Masques, Op. 34
TCHAIKOVSKY Dumka, Op. 59
LYAPUNOV Lezghinka, Transcendental Etude, Op. 11, No. 10

“It was easy to hear why the young Chicago pianist already has racked up so many competition victories,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “She plays with the kind of confident fluency that makes competition juries take notice. . . . Taste, elegance, and musical intelligence were the hallmarks of Niwa’s Chopin sonata [and] the afternoon’s finest playing came in two of Szymanowski’s Masques [that] emerged here in all their exotic coloration, with plenty of intensity and atmosphere.”

On April 25, 1994, Niwa, along with Philip Sabransky—a former student of Eloise Niwa and the son of CSO violin Jerry and founding Chorus member Martha Sabransky—joined the Orchestra at Medinah Temple for recording sessions for Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Together they recorded the finale from Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals with James Levine conducting.

Niwa was back in Orchestra Hall for her subscription concert debut on February 9, 11, and 14, 1995, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as soloist in Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Sir Georg Solti on the podium. “She reveled in Schumann’s lyricism, especially in the concerto’s first movement, lingering over the expressive opening theme, stretching its rhythmic outlines to the limit,” commented Wynne Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “The CSO, in turn, provided unusually sumptuous accompaniment [and] the second movement was a relaxed, expansive conversation between soloist and sections of the Orchestra.”

At the University of Southern California, she served as assistant professor of piano and was founder and artistic director of Chamber Music at Great Gorge in northwest New Jersey.

Niwa is survived by her partner Glenn Powell, son Matthew, and brother David (Mariko). There are no immediate plans for services. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in her memory.

Wishing a very happy (and slightly belated) birthday to legendary Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel, who celebrated his ninetieth on January 5, 2021! A regular and favorite performer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly forty years, he has appeared with the ensemble in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Carnegie Hall.

Alfred Brendel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland in August 2003 (Shutterstock photo)

On Sunday, March 9, 2008, Brendel “sat down at the Steinway to play his final Chicago concert. At the end of the year, he will retire from the concert stage, closing the book on a distinguished sixty-year career,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “And what a concert it was. I’ve attended many of the nearly three dozen recitals the pianist has given in the city since his downtown debut . . . and can honestly say I’ve never heard him play better.”

A complete list of his performances is below.

July 29, 1971, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
István Kertész, conductor

December 30, 1970, January 1 and 2, 1971, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459
Aldo Ceccato, conductor

March 9, 10, and 11, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Dean Dixon, conductor

August 17, 1972, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Uri Segal, conductor

April 5, 6, and 7, 1973, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Sergiu Comissiona, conductor

August 8, 1973, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Lawrence Foster, conductor

August 10, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Lawrence Foster, conductor

May 9, 10, and 11, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 19, 1974, Ravinia Festival
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
James Levine, conductor

July 24, 1974, Ravinia Fesitval
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Kazimierz Kord, conductor

July 3, 1975, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

Alfred Brendel (Alecio de Andrade photo)

July 14, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

July 17, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

April 27, 28, and 29, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 8 and 10, 1978, Carnegie Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 13, 1979, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

July 15, 1979, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

May 13, 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 14, 15, and 16, 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat Major, K. 271
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 18, 1981, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat Major, K. 271
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

June 27, 1982, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
James Levine, conductor

June 15 and 16, 1983, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

June 17 and 18, 1983, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor
The June 1983 performances were recorded live in Orchestra Hall. For Philips, Volker Straus was the producer and engineer.

July 13, 1986
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
James Levine, conductor

July 18, 1986
HAYDN Piano Concerto in D Major, H.XVIII, No. 11
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Raymond Leppard, conductor

November 21, 22, and 23, 1991, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Tsung Yeh, conductor

April 11, 13, and 16, 1996, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 3, 4, and 5, 1997, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 10 and 11, 2003, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Roberto Abbado, conductor

February 23 and 25, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 8 and 10, 2007
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453
Roberto Abbado, conductor

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Brendel also has appeared in Orchestra Hall on numerous times in recital, as follows:

March 15, 1970*
BEETHOVEN Bagatelles, Op. 126
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op.106 (Hammerklavier)

Alfred Brendel (Steve J. Sherman photo)

February 7, 1971*
MOZART Nine Variations in D Major on a Minuet by J. P. Duport, K. 573
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 17
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 664

April 2, 1972*
HAYDN Sonata in C Major
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
SCHOENBERG Six Little Pieces, Op. 19
LISZT Disaster
LISZT Bagatelle without Tonality
LISZT The Mournful Gondola
LISZT Saint Francis de Paul Marching on the Waves
LISZT Mephisto Waltz

March 11, 1973*
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, Op. 42
LISZT Années de Pèlerinage: Prèmiere année–Suisse

March 31, 1974*
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

March 16, 1975
SCHUBERT Moments Musicaux, D. 780, Nos. 1-6
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (Wanderer)
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3
MOZART Adagio in B Minor, K. 540
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 331

May 10, 1976*
BACH Fantasy-Prelude in A Minor, BWV 922
BACH Italian Concerto, BWV 971
LISZT Grand Variations on Bach’s Weinen Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
LISZT Prelude and Fugue on BACH
BEETHOVEN Six Variations on an Original Theme in F Major, Op. 34
BEETHOVEN 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO 80
BEETHOVEN Seven Variations in F Major on Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen by Peter Winter, WoO 75

May 12, 1977*
BEETHOVEN Six Bagatellies, Op. 126
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

March 25, 1979*
LISZT Three selections from Années de Pèlerinage: Troisième année–Suisse
LISZT Valse oubliée No. 1
LISZT Czardas macabre
SCHOENBERG Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19
BUSONI Toccata
BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel in B-flat Major, Op. 24

February 3, 1980
SCHUMANN Kinderszenen, Op. 15
SCHUMANN Carnaval, Op. 9
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16

February 7, 1982*
MOZART in A Minor, K. 310
SCHUMANN Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17
BERG Sonata, Op. 1
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Two Legendes

May 13, 1984*
BEETHOVEN Six Bagatelles, Op. 126
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, D. 784
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (Unfinished)
BEETHOVEN Variations and Fugue in E-flat Major, Op. 35 (Eroica)

Alfred Brendel (Suseech Bayat photo)

May 5, 1985
HAYDN Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII/6
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI/52
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (Wanderer)
MUSSORGSKY Pictures from an Exhibition

April 27, 1986
HAYDN Fantasia in C Major, Hob. XVII/4
HAYDN Sonata in E Minor, Hob. XVI/34
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
LISZT Années de Pèlerinage: Prèmiere année–Suisse

May 8, 1988
SCHUBERT Three Pieces, D. 946
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935

May 22, 1988
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Minor, D. 958
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 959
SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

April 21, 1991
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor, Hob. XVI/20
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
BEETHOVEN Six Variations in F Major, Op. 34
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

December 1, 1991
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI: 49
HAYDN Andante with Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVI:6
HAYDN Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI:50
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Sonata in B Minor

May 23, 1993
BEETHOVEN Sonata in A-flat Major, Op. 26
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F Major, Op. 54
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)

April 29, 1994
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)

April 23, 1995
BEETHOVEN Sonata in G Major, Op. 79
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F-sharp Major, Op. 78
BEETHOVEN Sonata in D Major, Op. 28 (Pastorale)
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E Minor, Op. 90
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 7

April 8, 1996
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

April 8, 1997
BUSONI Elegy No. 3: My soul longs and hopes for you (Chorale Prelude)
LISZT Canzonetta by Salvator Rosa
LISZT The Thinker
LISZT At the Lake of Wallenstadt
LISZT Dark Clouds
LISZT At the Cypresses of the Villa d’Este, No. 1
LISZT Eclogue
LISZT Sonnet No. 104 by Petrarch
BUSONI Elegy No. 6: A Vision (Nocturne)
SCHUMANN Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17
HAYDN Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI:40

April 5, 1998
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 396
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894 (Fantasy)
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 570
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI: 52

April 4, 1999
HAYDN Sonata in E Minor, Hob. XVI:34
SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
SCHUMANN Kinderszenen, Op. 15
MOZART Rondo in A Minor, K. 511
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 475

April 6, 1999
MOZART Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478
MOZART Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493
MOZART Piano Quintet in A Major, K. 414a
Katharine Gowers, violin
Lucy Jeal, violin
Douglas Paterson, viola
Adrian Brendel, cello

April 30, 2000
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:49
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, D. 845

April 15, 2001
HAYDN Sonata in G Minor, Hob. XVI:44
MOZART Fantasy in D Minor, K. 397
MOZART Sonata in A Minor, K. 310
BEETHOVEN Thirty-Three Variations in C Major on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

April 28, 2002
MOZART Sonata in D Major, K. 311
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Minor, D. 958
BRAHMS Four Ballades, Op. 10
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 533 (with Rondo, K. 494)

April 13, 2003
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 33, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 119, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 4
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 33, No. 4
BEETHOVEN Rondo in C Major, Op. 51, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Rondo in G Major, Op. 51, No. 2
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 331
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (Reliquie)
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 22

April 18, 2004
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 396
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 281
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282
SCHUBERT Three Piano Pieces, D. 946
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109

March 27, 2005
MOZART Nine Variations in D Major on a Minuet by J. P. Duport, K. 573
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16
SCHUBERT No. 1 in C Major: Moderato from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
SCHUBERT No. 2 in A-flat Major: Andantino from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
SCHUBERT No. 4 in C-sharp Minor: Moderato from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28 (Pastorale)

February 5, 2006
HAYDN Sonata in D Major, Hob. XVI: 42
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 475
MOZART Rondo in A Minor, K. 511
HAYDN Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI: 50

March 4, 2007
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor, H. XVI:20
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
SCHUBERT Impromptu No. 1 in F Minor, D. 935
SCHUBERT Impromptu No. 3 in B-flat Major, D. 935
MOZART Sonata in C Minor, K. 457

March 9, 2008
HAYDN Variations in F Minor, Hob. SVII/6
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 533/K. 494
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1 (Quasi una fantasia)
SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

*No program on file; repertoire culled from advertisements and reviews.

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the remarkable Romanian pianist Radu Lupu! A regular performer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly fifty years, he has appeared with the ensemble in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and on tour to Bucharest, Romania and Berlin, Germany. A complete list of his performances is below.

Radu Lupu (Mary Roberts photo for Decca)

October 5 and 6, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

August 1, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Lawrence Foster, conductor

August 3, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 18 and 19, 1974, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

August 6, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

August 7, 1977, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Franz Allers, conductor

January 12, 13, and 14, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Fantasy in C Minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op. 80 (Choral Fantasy)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 8,9, and 10, 1984, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

January 31, February 1, 2, and 5, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Radu Lupu performs Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti on April 27, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 31, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242
Elena Bashkirova, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

January 30, 31, February 1, and 4, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 19, 1998, Sala Mare a Palatului, Bucharest, Romania
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 12, 14, 15, and 16, 1999, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
David Zinman, conductor

April 22, 2000, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 21, 22, and 23, 2002, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

October 3, 2002, Carnegie Hall, New York
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 13, 14, and 16, 2003, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Radu Lupu (Zdenek Chrapek photo)

February 16, 17, and 18, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

February 25, 26, 27, and March 2, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

January 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2013, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

April 27, 28, and 29, 2017, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Riccardo Muti, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Duain Wolfe in 2013 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to Duain Wolfe, Grammy Award–winning chorus director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus!

In 1994, ninth music director Daniel Barenboim appointed Wolfe to succeed Margaret Hillis, founder and first director of the Chorus. Since then, he has prepared the ensemble for over 150 programs for concerts in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Carnegie Hall, and Berlin’s Philharmonie. Wolfe’s activities have earned him an honorary doctorate and numerous awards, including the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.

Wolfe also has prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for numerous commercial recordings, and a complete list is below.

BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1994 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and produced by Karl-August Naegler, Rainer Maillard was the balance engineer, Stephan Flock and Hans-Rudolf Müller were the recording engineers, and Stephan Flock and Rainer Maillard were the editors.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sergej Aleksashkin, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1995 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, John Dunkerley and Andy Groves were the recording engineers, and Nigel Gayler was the recoding editor.

ROUGET DE L’ISLE/Berlioz La Marseillaise
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
The Orchestra and Chorus were recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 1995; Domingo was later recorded at the Hochschule für Musik Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. For Teldec, the album was executive produced by Nikolaus Deckenbrock and produced by Martin Fouqué, Ulrich Ruscher was the recording engineer, Jens Schünemann and Paul Nedel were assistant engineers, and Andreas Florcak and Stefan Witzel were digital editors.

WAGNER Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Eva Karita Mattila, soprano
Magdalene Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano
Walther von Stolzing Ben Heppner, tenor
David Herbert Lippert, tenor
Hans Sachs José van Dam, bass-baritone
Veit Pogner René Pape, bass
Sixtus Beckmesser Alan Opie, baritone
Kunz Vogelgesang Roberto Saccà, tenor
Konrad Nachtigall Gary Martin, baritone
Fritz Kothner Albert Dohmen, bass-baritone
Balthasar Zorn John Horton Murray, tenor
Ulrich Eisslinger Richard Byrne, baritone
Augustin Moser Steven Tharp, tenor
Hermann Ortel Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
Hans Schwarz Stephen Morscheck, bass-baritone
Hans Foltz, Ein Nachtwächter Kelly Anderson, baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 1995 for London Records. The recording was produced by Michael Woolcock; James Lock, John Pellowe, and Neil Hutchinson were the balance engineers; and Krzysztof Jarosz was the location engineer. The recording won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

SCRIABIN Prometheus, Op. 60
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Anatol Ugorski, piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1996 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and Ewald Markl and produced by Karl-August Naegler; Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer; Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers; and Karl-August Naegler and Ulrich Vette were the editors.

STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1997 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, and James Lock and Philip Siney were the balance engineers. Duncan Mitchell was the location engineer, and Sally Drew and Nigel Gayler were the recording editors.

American Spirit
KELLEY/Davis Home on the Range
STEFFE/Davis Battle Hymn of the Republic
WARD/Davis America the Beautiful
Chip Davis, conductor
Mannheim Steamroller Symphony
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, conductor
Recorded at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Old Town, Chicago in March 2003 for American Gramaphone. The album was produced by Chip Davis; Chris Sabold, Mike Konopka, and Dick Lewsey were the engineers; and Mat Lejeune, Brian Pinke, Mike Scasiwicz, Darren Styles were the assistant engineers.

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 2006 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MENOTTI Amahl and the Night Visitors
Alastair Willis, conductor
Amahl Ike Hawkersmith, treble
Mother Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
King Kaspar Dean Anthony, tenor
King Melchior Todd Thomas, baritone
King Balthazar Kevin Short, bass-baritone
Page to the Kings Bart LeFan, baritone
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

RAVEL L’enfant et les sortilèges
Alastair Willis, conductor
L’enfant Julie Boulianne, mezzo-soprano
Maman, La libellule, L’écureuil Geneviève Després, mezzo-soprano
La tasse chinoise, Un pâtre, La chatte Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
La théière, Le petit viellard, La rainette Philippe Castagner, tenor
L’horloge comtoise, Le chat Ian Greenlaw, baritone
Le fauteuil, Un arbre Kevin Short, bass-baritone
La princesse, La chauve-souris Agathe Martel, soprano
Le feu, Le rossignol Cassandre Prévost, soprano
La bergère, Une pastourelle, La chouette Julie Cox, soprano
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chattanooga Boys Choir
Vincent Oakes, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

POULENC Gloria
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe

Bernard Haitink, conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2007 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Miah Persson, soprano
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2008 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January 2009 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by Christopher Alder, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and David Frost and Tom Lazarus were the mixing engineers.
The recording received 2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.

BERLIOZ Lélio ou le retour à la vie
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Gérard Depardieu, narrator
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Kyle Ketelsen, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2010 for CSO Resound. The album was produced and mixed by David Frost, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and Silas Brown was the mixing and mastering engineer.

VERDI Otello
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Otello Aleksandrs Antonenko, tenor
Desdemona Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano
Iago Carlo Guelfi, baritone
Emilia Barbara di Castri, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Juan Francisco Gatell, tenor
Roderigo Michael Spyres, tenor
Montano Paolo Battaglia, bass
Lodovico Eric Owens, bass-baritone
A Herald David Govertsen, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in April 2011 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Tim Martyn, Silas Brown, and Richard King were the mixing engineers.

SCHOENBERG Kol Nidre, Op. 39
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alberto Mizrahi, narrator
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 2012 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

WILLIAMS Lincoln (original motion picture soundtrack)
John Williams, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 2012 for Sony. The recording was produced by John Williams, Ramiro Belgardt was the music editor, Shawn Murphy was the recording and mixing engineer, Robert Wolff was the recording editor, Brad Cobb was the technical engineer, and Patricia Sullivan Fourstar was the mastering engineer.

Riccardo Muti conducts Italian Masterworks
VERDI Gli arredi festivi from Nabucco
VERDI Patria oppressa! from Macbeth
BOITO Prologue to Mefistofele
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Riccardo Zanellato, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 2017 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alexey Tikhomirov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2018 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mastered by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

Happy, happy birthday!

Duain Wolfe acknowledges the Chicago Symphony Chorus following a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe on April 5, 2018 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Theodore Thomas (A. Cox photo)

Theodore Thomas, the Chicago Orchestra‘s founder and first music director, was born on October 11, 1835. To celebrate his 185th birthday, this week’s CSOradio program features  a retrospective of works—led by former music directors Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim, along with guest conductor Morton Gould—that he introduced to audiences in the United States, both with the Chicago Orchestra and other ensembles. Frank Villella, director of the CSO’s Rosenthal Archives, co-hosts the broadcast.

BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded by Erato in Orchestra Hall, September 1993

In 1879, the University of Breslau in Poland bestowed upon Johannes Brahms an honorary doctorate, and to show his appreciation, he composed the Academic Festival Overture the following summer. The composer himself led the first public performance at the university in January 1881, and later that year on November 29, Thomas led the U.S. premiere in New York.

Daniel Barenboim, early in his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded Brahms’s complete symphonies, along with the Tragic Overture, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the Academic Festival Overture, all for Erato Records.

WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Artur Rodzinski, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, December 1947

In the nineteenth century, Thomas was Richard Wagner’s greatest advocate in the United States, both before and after he founded the Chicago Orchestra. During his fourteen seasons as music director, he programmed Wagner’s music on nearly half of his concerts, both in Chicago and with the Orchestra on tour. Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of the Prelude from Tristan and Isolde in New York on February 10, 1866, less than a year after the opera’s first complete performances in Munich; and he also gave the first U.S. performance of the Prelude paired with the Liebestod in Boston on December 6, 1871. Thomas programmed these two works together fifteen times on subscription concerts during his tenure as music director.

Artur Rodzinski was the Orchestra’s fourth music director for only one season (1947–48). One of his great successes was a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in November 1947, featuring soprano Kirsten Flagstad in her first operatic appearance in the United States since the end of World War II. The legendary Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy called the performance “the dawn of a new operatic day in Chicago.” A month later, Rodzinski and the Orchestra recorded the Prelude and Liebestod for RCA.

ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London in Medinah Temple, May 1974

Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations with the Chicago Orchestra on January 3, 1902, and it was such a crowd-pleaser that he programmed it a second time later that season. A few years later in April 1907, second music director Frederick Stock invited the composer himself to lead several of his works, including In the South, the first Pomp and Circumstance March, and the Enigma Variations. The Chicago Tribune reported that, “The men of the Orchestra gave him their closest attention and heartiest sympathy yesterday, and the result was a performance of the three compositions which was technically and tonally of highest worth. Sir Edward himself seemed genuinely pleased and his assertion after the concert that the ‘work of the Orchestra surpassed all his fondest expectations’ evidently was the expression of his true feeling.”

Sir Georg Solti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director, recorded the Enigma Variations on May 15, 1974, at Medinah Temple for London Records.

STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, March 1954

During the summer of 1883, Thomas visited Europe and according to his Memoirs—edited by his widow, Rose Fay Thomas—the conductor, “had met, in Munich, a young and almost unknown composer, one Richard Strauss, who has recently finished writing a symphony. Thomas secured the first movement of the work, and was so much impressed with it that he requested young Strauss to let him have the other movements, promising to bring out the whole work in a concert of the Philharmonic Society.” Thomas kept that promise and in New York in December 1884, he led the world premiere of the Second Symphony in F minor—the first music of Richard Strauss to be performed in the United States. Strauss would later send new scores, and Thomas introduced several works to the United States with the Orchestra, including Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, along with Ein Heldenleben, first performed in Chicago on March 9, 1900.

Near the end of his first season as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner made his first recordings with the Orchestra for RCA. In Orchestra Hall on March 6, 1954, they recorded Strauss’s Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Ein Heldenleben, with violin solos performed by then-concertmaster John Weicher. Reiner’s CSO recordings of music by Strauss have never been out of print, and in 2013, Sony re-issued Reiner’s complete CSO catalog on RCA, a boxed set of sixty-three CDs.

TCHAIKOVSKY Final Waltz and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker, Op. 71
Morton Gould, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, January 1966

Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of a suite from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker on October 22, 1892, on the first concert of the Orchestra’s second season. The program note described Tchaikovsky as the “composer, who, in his fifth symphony, has led us into the highest realms of art and stirred our very soul,” and the note described the selections from the ballet as “miniature pictures painted with infinite grace and care,” showing the composer, “in one of his playful and trifling moods.”

Morton Gould, a frequent guest conductor on Popular concerts in the 1960s, recorded selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker at Orchestra Hall on January 31, 1966, for RCA. A six-disc set of Gould’s complete recordings with the Orchestra was released by Sony in February 2016.

Luciano Pavarotti (Getty Images)

On October 12, 2020, we remember Luciano Pavarotti on what would have been his eighty-fifth birthday! The legendary Italian tenor appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on three memorable occasions, and a complete list of his appearances is below.

VERDI Requiem
April 24 and 26, 1975, Orchestra Hall
April 30, 1975, Carnegie Hall
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

During the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s centennial season in 1990-91, Sir Georg Solti—during his final residency as eighth music director—programmed Verdi’s Otello, with a stellar cast including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Leo Nucci, and Pavarotti, making his debut in the title role. Concert performances of the opera were given at Orchestra Hall and at Carnegie Hall.

Kiri Te Kanawa and Pavarotti onstage at Orchestra Hall on April 8, 1991 (Jim Steere photo)

VERDI Otello
April 8 and 12, 1991, Orchestra Hall
April 16 and 19, 1991, Carnegie Hall
Otello Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Desdemona Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Iago Leo Nucci, baritone
Emilia Elzbieta Ardam, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Roderigo John Keyes, tenor
Montano Alan Opie, baritone
Lodovico Dimitri Kavrakos, bass
A Herald Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master
Chicago Children’s Choir
Leslie Britton, director (Chicago)
Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus
Elena Doria, director (New York)

The work was recorded live during the Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall performances for London Records. Michael Haas was the producer, Christopher Pope was the assistant producer, James Lock and John Pellowe were the engineers, and Deborah Rogers was the tape editor.

Pavarotti and Kathleen Battle at the Ravinia Festival on June 21, 1991 (Jim Steere photo, courtesy of the Ravinia Festival)

Later that same year, Pavarotti was back in town to help open the Ravinia Festival‘s fifty-sixth season, appearing alongside Kathleen Battle in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.

June 21, 1991, Ravinia Festival
DONIZETTI L’elisir d’amore
James Levine, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Nemorino Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Adina Kathleen Battle, soprano
Gianetta Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Belcore Mark Oswald, baritone
Doctor Dulcamara Paul Plishka, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

Numerous tributes have been posted online, including an excellent article on New York’s WQXR.org.

Theodore Thomas, ca. 1900 (A.W. Elson and Co., Boston photo)

Wishing a very happy birthday to our founder and first music director Theodore Thomas on the occasion of his 185th birthday!

“Theodore Thomas, the German-born conductor and visionary, was a giant in the musical life of nineteenth-century America. Through his carefully planned programs, he hoped to educate the public and encourage the rapidly growing immigrant population to appreciate classical music. His finest achievement, however, was the founding of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the building of its permanent home, Orchestra Hall.

“The more I learned about Thomas, the more I admired this man of tireless energy and enthusiasm who had elevated the orchestral musician from little more than a hired servant to a respected citizen. He was often criticized by those who could not understand his pursuit for excellence or his refusal to compromise. His legacy is a rich one, and as nineteenth-century America’s premiere conductor and builder of orchestras, he deserves to be remembered well and with gratitude.”

—culled from Lady Valerie Solti‘s foreword to Theodore Thomas: America’s Conductor and Builder of Orchestras by Ezra Schabas, 1989.

Happy, happy birthday!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Canadian soprano Erin Wall, who died yesterday evening, October 8, 2020, following a long illness. She was forty-four.

Erin Wall in 2015 (Kristin Hoebermann photo)

Wall began her professional career in Chicago, as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in her first season there, she also made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a special New Year’s Eve concert. She most recently appeared with the Orchestra in December 2018, as soloist in Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

“I have wonderful memories of her collaboration in Bruckner’s Te Deum and of her great qualities as a singer and as a musician,” commented Riccardo Muti, speaking from Bologna, Italy. “There are no words for such a premature loss.”

A complete list of her appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below.

December 31, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Temerari! . . . Come scoglio from Così fan tutte, K. 588
MOZART E Susanna non vien! . . . Dove sono from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
LEHÁR Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss from Giuditta
Carlos Kalmar, conductor

April 1 and 2, 2004, Orchestra Hall
NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (Sinfonia espansiva)
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Wayne Tigges, bass-baritone

November 17, 18, 20, and 23, 2004, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Egmont, Op. 84
Mikko Franck, conductor
John Mahoney, narrator

Erin Wall in 2015 (Kristin Hoebermann photo)

August 6, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Meredith Arwady, contralto
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
Robert Pomakov, bass
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus
Lee Erickson, director

July 18, 2009, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Op. 125
James Conlon, conductor
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Morris D. Robinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

October 25, 26, and 27, 2012, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

June 23, 25, and 26, 2016
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Okka von der Damerau, mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim, tenor
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

December 6, 7, 8, and 11, 2018
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Edward Gardner, conductor

A personal account of Wall’s journey with breast cancer, written by her in February 2019, is posted on the Canadian Opera Company‘s website, here.

Numerous tributes have been posted online, including Opera News, Chicago’s Daily Herald, and The Telegraph, among several others.

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