On April 3, 4, and 5, 1969, Georg Solti led performances of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. These concerts were not only his final concerts as the Orchestra’s designated music director (he officially became music director in the fall of that year) but also his first collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, prepared by Margaret Hillis.
The concerts were dedicated to the memory of U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower, who had died on March 28, 1969.
The soloists for the occasion were soprano Heather Harper and contralto Helen Watts. Solti had already recorded the work with Harper and Watts, along with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in May 1966 for London Records.
Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune noted that the Resurrection message was “well heeded by the performers, certainly. For Georg Solti, conducting his final concerts of the season, the concert was a triumphant affirmation. This is an artist who at his best can create music with a blazing lustre, matching comprehensive understanding of detail with the instincts of a born showman. . . . All of this is highly encouraging for the future, for in the long run, the music must prove itself. It is hard to believe that anyone in the hall last night left without being richer than when he came. That, too, can be a resurrection.” (The complete article is here, courtesy of Proquest via the Chicago Public Library.)