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During his first season as music director, Georg Solti took the Orchestra on the road only once, in January 1970.

On January 6, the brief tour began at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio (Bartók’s Dance Suite and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony) and ended on January 11 at Indiana University in Bloomington (Haydn’s Symphony no. 102, Bartók’s Dance Suite, and Brahms’s First Symphony).

Carnegie Hall – January 8, 1970

Of course, the centerpiece of the tour were two concerts in New York’s Carnegie Hall on January 8 and 9.

After the first concert of Haydn, Bartók, and Brahms, Raymond Ericson, reported from New York: “It is a temptation to paraphrase the old movie slogan and say that Georg Solti is back and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s got him. It seems too flippant a remark to make about such an august institution and such a distinguished musician. Still, it’s true and it’s important, because the partnership is a great one, judging by their concert in Carnegie Hall Thursday night.” (The complete Chicago Tribune article is here, courtesy of Proquest via the Chicago Public Library.)

Carnegie Hall – January 9, 1970

And then there was the second concert, an all-Mahler program. It began with contralto Helen Watts singing the Kindertotenlieder followed by the Fifth Symphony.

Thomas Willis reporting in the Chicago Tribune on January 12, wrote: “From all accounts, Friday night’s all-Mahler concert in Carnegie Hall was an outstanding audience success, with Georg Solti called to the stage twelve times following the Fifth Symphony. Spokesmen at the hall were calling it the most enthusiastic reception for a visiting orchestra in recent memory.”

A week later, Winthrop Sargeant, writing for The New Yorker, attempted to answer the question: “Is the Chicago Symphony the greatest orchestra in America?”

The New Yorker – January 17, 1970

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