Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to Itzhak Perlman!

Itzhak Perlman

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago, Perlman has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as both violin soloist and conductor on numerous occasions. He first appeared with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 4, 1966 (a few weeks shy of his twenty-first birthday), in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Thomas Schippers conducting, and he first appeared at Orchestra Hall on May 11 and 12, 1967, in Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto with Jean Martinon conducting.

Most recently, Perlman was soloist with the Orchestra downtown on March 7, 2011, in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Clark McAlister’s arrangement of Kreisler‘s Liebesfreud with James DePreist conducting, and at Ravinia on August 7, 2013, in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Carlos Miguel Prieto conducting.

Itzhak Perlman (photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Itzhak Perlman (Lisa Marie Mazzucco photo)

As a conductor, Perlman first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 25, 1999, in Bach’s Second Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s First Romance for Violin (also performing as soloist), along with Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. He has led the Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on one occasion, on November 17, 2008, in Bach’s First Violin Concerto (also performing as soloist), Mozart’s Symphony no. 35, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently, he conducted the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 8, 2013, leading Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture, Haydn’s Second Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

Perlman also has recorded several times with the Orchestra, as follows:

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 77
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November and December 1976
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Angel
1978 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album

Perlman Brahms

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, September 1996
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Teldec

ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon
1982 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra)

MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Erato

recording session

Barenboim and Perlman recording in Orchestra Hall in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Erato

STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D Major
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, September 1994
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Teldec

Happy, happy birthday!

Jumping ahead a few years from 1940’s Chicago and 1948’s Chicago the Beautiful, the Chicago Film Archives posted a 1977 film, Chicago Is . . . , late last week. And it’s excellent.

According to a DNAinfo article by Kyla Gardner, the fifteen-minute film was made by Cine-Mark productions for the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. “The film was made in the late 1970s to encourage tourism to the city and therefore offers a light and fluffy glimpse of Chicago,” Anne Wells, collections manager for Chicago Film Archives, wrote in an email [to Gardner]. “It focuses on tourist hot spots, rather than diving into specific neighborhoods, populations or any critical discussion for that matter.”

Along with excellent footage from all over the city—showcasing shopping, dining, night life, museums, and parks—the film features great vintage shots of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, onstage at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. “Opera, ballet, and the world famous Chicago Symphony all add their cultural magic to the city of entertainment. . . . Picnics take on special meaning when combined with concerts at Ravinia, summer home of the famed Chicago Symphony.”

A hearty congratulations to our friends and colleagues at Harvard University‘s Loeb Music Library! Their website Music, First and Last: Scores from the Sir Georg Solti Archive has been awarded a 2015 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Award.

Solti library

According to the American Library Association website, the awards “recognize outstanding printed exhibition catalogs and guides, and electronic exhibitions, produced by North America and Caribbean institutions.” Harvard’s Solti library won the the Division Five (electronic exhibition) award for its “clean, uncluttered design” and ease of navigation. “The ability to access complete scores is good for scholarship, while the ability to easily access audio and video enhances the experience for the visitor.”

In Harvard University’s press release, Sarah Adams—Richard F. French Librarian of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library—said, “This is an outstanding recognition not only of the online exhibition but of the significance of the Solti Archive itself, which is an extensive body of work rich with content that benefits musicians and scholars across the world.”

The website initially was launched in March 2014.

Congratulations!

Wishing our beloved tenth music director the happiest of birthdays and many happy returns! Looking forward to another great season!

Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome on September 28, 2007 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome on September 28, 2007 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Moravec

The gifted Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, who appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, died earlier today, July 27, 2015. He was 84.

Moravec’s appearances with the Orchestra were as follows:

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980
FRANCK Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Garcia Navarro, conductor

January 7, 8, 9 & 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

November 12, 13, 14 & 17, 1998
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Yaron Traub, conductor
(Traub replaced Riccardo Chailly, who canceled due to illness.)

caption info

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980

According to an obituary in Gramophone, Moravec “focused on the ‘central’ Romantic repertoire as well as music by Czech composers. Talking to Bryce Morrison for Gramophone‘s March 2004 issue, Moravec said: ‘My own recordings are a distillation of years of work and listening, of having my tape recorder always at hand. I would agree with [Arthur] Rubinstein who after recording would listen to the playback and say, “Now I have my piano lesson.” But unlike Rubinstein my conception of the relatively few works I have recorded has not radically altered, has remained loyal to my first thoughts and feelings. I have always taken my time and although I have learned and practiced a large repertoire (Ravel’s Gaspard, Rachmaninov, etc.) I have never felt ready to play most of it in public. . . . Life is so short and I have concentrated on what I feel I do best.'”

Ozawa headshot

Congratulations to Seiji Ozawa—the Ravinia Festival‘s first music director from 1964 until 1968—who will be a recipient of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors! Additional honorees, announced today, include American rock band the Eagles, singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, and actress Cicely Tyson.

The gala event will be broadcast on CBS on December 29, 2015.

As a last-minute replacement for Georges Prêtre in July 1963, Seiji Ozawa was called upon to lead the Orchestra in two concerts at the Ravinia Festival. The twenty-seven-year-old conductor made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on July 16, leading Beethoven’s Leonore Overture no. 3, Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Byron Janis, and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony. Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune reported that Ozawa was “instantly in command when in possession of a baton and a musical idea. His conducting technique reminds you of his teacher, Herbert von Karajan, in that it lays the score in the lap of the orchestra with transparency of gesture and human communication, then commands acceptance.” On July 18, he conducted Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Christian Ferras, Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, Takemitsu’s Requiem for Strings, and selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

June 16, 1964

June 16, 1964

Only a month later it was announced that Ozawa would become the Ravinia Festival’s first music director and resident conductor beginning with the 1964 season, replacing Walter Hendl, who had served as artistic director since 1959. For his first concert as music director on June 16, 1964, Ozawa led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Barber’s Piano Concerto with John Browning, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

He served as music director of the Ravinia Festival through the 1968 season and as principal conductor for the 1969 season, returning regularly as a guest conductor. Ozawa most recently appeared there on July 14, 1985, leading Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major and Takemitsu’s riverrun with Peter Serkin, along with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony.

Ozawa LP

Between 1965 and 1970—both at Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple—Ozawa and the Orchestra recorded a number of works for both Angel and RCA, including Bartók’s First and Third piano concertos and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with Peter Serkin, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade with concertmaster Victor Aitay, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, among numerous others.

Ozawa most recently appeared in Chicago at Orchestra Hall on February 9, 1996, leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe), Heidi Grant Murphy, and Michelle DeYoung in Mahler’s Second Symphony; and on January 10, 2001, conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Saito Kinen Orchestra.

Congratulations, Maestro Ozawa!

Jon Vickers

The extraordinary Canadian tenor Jon Vickers, who appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on only one occasion, died on Friday, July 10, 2015, in Ontario. He was 88.

For the opening subscription concerts of the sixty-eighth season on October 23 and 24, 1958, music director Fritz Reiner led the Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Chorus—in its second season and prepared by its founder Margaret Hillis—and soloists Adele Addison, Regina Resnik, Vickers, and Jerome Hines in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The concert opened with the composer’s Leonore Overture no. 3.

In the Chicago American, Roger Dettmer described Vickers as “a Canadian tenor on his vocal way to Valhalla.” And in the Chicago Tribune, Claudia Cassidy wrote that “Jon Vickers’ tenor was stronger than I remembered, as if Bayreuth had invigorated it” (he had made his debut at Wagner’s annual festival only a few months before, as Siegmund in Die Walküre).

October 23 & 24, 1958

October 23 & 24, 1958

Cassidy continued, praising that Reiner delivered, “a Beethoven Ninth Symphony so magnificent that it ranks high in the company of great performances, and may be the finest thing Mr. Reiner has done in and for Chicago. . . . That Mr. Reiner is a master conductor goes without saying, though it is a pleasure to say it. That he can be a great interpreter of essentially spiritual music is not so commonly understood. But no one who heard this Ninth could deny it, for there it was, fully known, fully projected, fully shared. He had what he has made a superb orchestra and what he has insisted on having to match it, a chorus of such quality its newness is hard to remember. Like the orchestra, that chorus can attack like the blow of a fist.

“Out of all this came a Ninth full of mesmeric detail, yet all of one thrusting design soaring to the great finale. The strangely fascinating cacophony of the first movement was crystalline in style, through full of moods and shadows in sound. The scherzo, never capricious, but volatile as ether, held the ear taut and, oddly, the heart. The slow movement sang in layers of floating sound, austere for all its tenderness. The ‘Ode to Joy’ burst out with the jubilation of the freed spirit. When it was over the audience burst into a roar—the kind of roar that means hundreds of people have been, quite without knowing it, holding their breath in pure excitement.”

October 1958 program biography for Jon Vickers

October 1958 program biography for Jon Vickers

Numerous obituaries have been posted online, including in the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Opera News, and The Guardian.

Gunther Schuller

Composer and conductor Gunther Schuller, a frequent guest and collaborator with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra over the course of the last fifty years, died yesterday in Boston. He was 89.

Since 1965, the Orchestra has performed numerous works by Schuller, both at Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, including several world premieres. To celebrate the Orchestra’s seventy-fifth season, Schuller was commissioned to write his Gala Music; the composer led the world premiere at Orchestra Hall on January 20, 1966. At Ravinia, Seiji Ozawa led the world premiere of his Recitative and Rondo on July 16, 1967. Schuller himself led the Orchestra at Ravinia in the world premiere of his Suite from his opera The Visitation with the Ravinia Festival Jazz Ensemble on July 26, 1970. Sir Georg Solti led the world premiere of Schuller’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with CSO flute and piccolo Walfrid Kujala as soloist—commissioned for Kujala’s sixtieth birthday by his students and colleagues—on October 13, 1988.

As conductor with the Orchestra, Schuller led the world premiere of Easley Blackwood‘s Piano Concerto with the composer as soloist on July 26, 1970, at the Ravinia Festival. He also led the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of Alexander Nemtin’s arrangement of Scriabin’s Universe, Part 1 of the Prefatory Action of Mysterium; Mary Sauer was the piano soloist and the Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by assistant director James Winfield.

A complete list of Gunther Schuller’s conducting appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

Sir Georg Solti and the composer acknowledge soloist Walfrid Kujala following the world premiere of Schuller's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra on October 13, 1988

Sir Georg Solti and the composer acknowledge soloist Walfrid Kujala following the world premiere of Schuller’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra on October 13, 1988

July 10, 1965 (Ravinia Festial)
SCHUBERT/Webern German Dances
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
SAINT SAËNS Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33
Frank Miller, cello
SCHULLER Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee

January 20, 21 & 22, 1966
BERLIOZ The Corsair Overture, Op. 21
RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 44
PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin, No. 1 in D major, Op. 19
Edith Peinemann, violin
SCHULLER Gala Music (world premiere)

July 26, 1970 (Ravinia Festival)
WALTON Scapino Overture
SCHULLER Suite from The Visitation (world premiere)
Ravinia Festival Jazz Ensemble
BLACKWOOD Piano Concerto (world premiere)
Easley Blackwood, piano
SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy

December 6, 7 & 8, 1979
SCHULLER Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 15 in A Major, Op. 141
SCRIABIN/Nemtin Universe, Part I of the Prefatory Action of Mysterium (U.S. premiere)
Mary Sauer, piano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield, assistant director

For the CSO’s Marathon 12 fundraiser in 1987, a radio broadcast performance of Schuller’s Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, with principal bass Joseph Guastafeste as soloist and the composer conducting, was released on Soloists of the Orchestra, vol. 2. The Orchestra also recorded Schuller’s Spectra for Orchestra with James Levine conducting in 1990 for Deutsche Grammophon.

Gunther Schuller most recently appeared at Orchestra Hall on the Symphony Center Presents series on May 18, 2007, leading Epitaph, an eighty-fifth birthday anniversary tribute to Charles Mingus.

Several obituaries have been posted online in The New York Times, National Public Radio, and The Guardian, among numerous others.

On June 11, 2015, we celebrate the centennial of Arnold Jacobs, former longtime principal tuba of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Arnold Jacobs

Jacobs was born in Philadelphia and was raised in California. The product of a musical family, he credited his mother, a keyboard artist, for his original inspiration in music and spent a good part of his youth progressing from bugle to trumpet to trombone and finally to tuba. Jacobs entered Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music as a fifteen-year-old on scholarship, where he studied with Philip Donatelli and Fritz Reiner.

After his graduation from Curtis in 1936, Jacobs played two seasons in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Fabien Sevitsky. From 1939 to 1944 he was the tubist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Reiner. In 1941 Jacobs toured the country with Leopold Stokowski and the All-American Youth Orchestra.

At the invitation of music director Désiré Defauw, he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1944 and remained a member until his retirement in 1988. He appeared as soloist with the Orchestra on numerous occasions, recording Vaughan Williams’s Tuba Concerto in 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon with Daniel Barenboim conducting (re-released in 2003 on The Chicago Principal). Jacobs also was a founding member of the Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet, and along with his CSO colleagues, was part of the famous 1968 recording of The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli with members of the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras.

Sir Georg Solti congratulates Jacobs following his retirement ceremony on September 29, 1988

Sir Georg Solti congratulates Jacobs following his retirement ceremony on September 29, 1988

Internationally recognized as an educator, Jacobs taught tuba at Northwestern University for more than twenty years and gave master classes and lectured at clinics all over the world. He was especially known for his ability to motivate and inspire not only brass but also woodwind players and singers by teaching new breathing techniques, and many considered him the greatest tubist in the world.

Arnold Jacobs: The Legacy of a Master, a series of writings collected by M. Dee Stewart, was published in 1987 by The Instrumentalist Publishing Company, and Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind, by his assistant Brian Frederiksen, was published in 1996 by WindSong Press.

Jacobs’s honors included the highest award from the second International Brass Congress in 1984 and honorary doctor of music degrees from VanderCook College of Music and DePaul University. In 1994 the Chicago Federation of Musicians awarded him for Lifetime Achievement at the first Living Art of Music Award Ceremony. Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed June 25, 1995, “Arnold Jacobs Day in Chicago” as part of the celebration of his eightieth birthday. Along with Gizella, his wife of over sixty years, he was an active member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association. Jacobs last appeared onstage at Orchestra Hall on June 7, 1998, appearing with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guests, at a special concert celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of principal trumpet Adolph Herseth.

Jacobs died on October 7, 1998, at the age of 83, and on December 17, a special memorial program was given at Orchestra Hall. Performers included current and former members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra along with brass players from the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University, and the VanderCook College of Music, all led by Daniel Barenboim.

In May 2001, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced that its principal tuba chair had been generously endowed in honor of Jacobs. The Arnold Jacobs Chair, endowed by Christine Querfeld, currently is occupied by Gene Pokorny.

Hindemith with viola

During the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-13 season, anonymous donors endowed in perpetuity the principal viola chair but requested some time to decide on how they wanted the chair to be named. After quite a bit of thought, the donors have decided upon “The Paul Hindemith Principal Viola Chair, endowed by an anonymous benefactor.”

On March 3 and 4, 1938, Paul Hindemith debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appearing as composer, conductor, and viola soloist. The concert opened with associate conductor Hans Lange leading Mozart’s Symphony no. 39 followed by Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher (subtitled Concerto on Old Folk Melodies) with the composer as soloist. After intermission, Lange returned to the podium for Hindemith’s Chamber Music no. 1, followed by the composer leading the U.S. premiere of his Symphonic Dances.

Hindemith's March 1938 program biography

Hindemith’s March 1938 program biography

In the Journal of Commerce, Claudia Cassidy described Hindemith’s Chamber Music no. 1 as “brilliant, witty, and spectacularly scored. Mr. Lange conducted and the orchestra turned in a glittering job, particularly in the introduction to the finale which has that kinetic energy at a boil.” She described Der Schwandendreher as having “no compassion for the poor viola player, taking for granted that he can handle the instrument as Mr. Hindemith does, which is nothing short of amazing.”

Hindemith had conducted the first performance of the Symphonic Dances only three months earlier, on December 3, 1937, in London. Eugene Stinson in the Chicago Daily News described the work as having “more unity, and it seems to me there is more thoughtfulness, in the Symphonic Dances than in almost all the other music Hindemith’s Chicago knows. At a first hearing it struck me as one of the most impressive and most affecting contemporary scores I can recall.”

Hindemith’s complete performance history with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is as follows:

March 3 and 4, 1938

March 3 and 4, 1938

March 3 and 5, 1938, Orchestra Hall
HINDEMITH Der Schwanendreher
Paul Hindemith, viola
Hans Lange, conductor
HINDEMITH Symphonic Dances
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 25, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
CHERUBINI Overture to Les Abencerages
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 27, 1961, Ravinia Festival
HINDEMITH Pittsburgh Symphony
MENDELSSOHN Fingal’s Cave Overture, Op. 26
SCHUBERT Symphony in C Major, D. 944
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 29, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Gary Graffman, piano
HINDEMITH Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 38
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Paul Hindemith, conductor

March 28 and 29, 1963, Orchestra Hall
April 1, 1963, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 4 and 5, 1963, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
REGER Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 86
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
HINDEMITH Sinfonietta in E
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 6, 1963, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
REGER Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 86
BEETHOVEN Grosse Fuge in B flat Major, Op. 133
HINDEMITH Nobilissima visione
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 7, 1963, Orchestra Hall (television concert)
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
BRUCKNER Allegro moderato (first movement) from Symphony No. 7 in E Major
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Originally broadcast on WGN and currently available on a VAI DVD release.

_______________________

Charles Pikler, principal viola (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Charles Pikler, principal viola (Todd Rosenberg photo)

The principal viola chair currently is held by Charles Pikler, who joined the Orchestra as a violinist in 1978; and in 1986, Sir Georg Solti named Pikler principal viola.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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Maestro Riccardo Muti and Yo-Yo Ma backstage at the Salzburg Festival. #riccardomuti #yoyoma #salzburg #salzburgfestival

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

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