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Francis Akos

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family notes with sorrow the passing of Francis Akos, a member of the violin section from 1955 until 2003. He died earlier today in Minneapolis following a brief illness at the age of 93.

Akos was hired by Fritz Reiner in 1955 as assistant principal second violin and moved to principal second in 1956. In 1959, he became assistant concertmaster and remained in that chair until 1997, when he was named assistant concertmaster emeritus, a title he retained until his retirement in 2003.

A native of Budapest, Hungary, Akos, studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, Leó Weiner, Imre Waldbauer, and Ede Zathureczky. He received his artist’s diploma in performance as well as a teacher’s diploma. As best of his class, Akos won both the Jenő Hubay prize and the Reményi Prize (a violin made especially for the winner of the competition) in the same year. Just before World War II, he formed a trio with cellist János Starker and pianist György Sebök (forty years later in December 1980, the three performed a reunion concert in Chicago).

After surviving the Holocaust (a brief interview from 1990 in which he describes his immediate postwar months is available here), Akos served as concertmaster of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and later of the Hungarian Royal Opera and Philharmonic orchestras, the youngest person ever to hold these posts. After leaving Hungary, he was concertmaster of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden and then of the Städtishce Oper (now the Deutsche Oper Berlin).

In 1954, Akos immigrated to the United States, where he performed at the Aspen Music Festival and with the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Orchestra) under Antal Doráti before joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1955. He appeared as soloist with the Orchestra on numerous occasions, under music directors Reiner, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim, as well as with Carlo Maria Giulini, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and János Ferencsik, among others.

Francis Akos in 2003 (Gregory Morton photo)

Francis Akos in 2003 (Gregory Morton photo)

Akos founded and led the Chicago Strings, a chamber ensemble comprised of CSO musicians; was leader of the Old Town Chamber Music Series; served as music director of the Fox River Valley Symphony in Aurora; and was conductor of the Chicago Heights Symphony Orchestra. As founding music director of the Highland Park Strings, he led that ensemble for twenty-eight years.

Akos is survived by two daughters, Kate Akos (Harry Jacobs) of San Francisco, California, and Judy Akos Berkowitz (Dennis Berkowitz) of Edina, Minnesota, and beloved grandchildren Justin and Melissa. Services will be private and plans for a public memorial will be announced at a later date. The family asks that any gifts of remembrance be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Highland Park Strings, or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

At the time of his retirement in 2003, Akos reflected on his years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: “For more than half my life, I have lived in Chicago as a member of the world’s greatest orchestra. The music, the composers, the conductors, and the soloists have inspired me. I am especially grateful to have been blessed with the inspiration I have received from my CSO colleagues during my professional life.”

An obituary was posted by the Chicago Tribune on January 29, 2016.

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Daniel Barenboim and John Corigliano review the score to Symphony no. 1 (Terry's photo)

Daniel Barenboim and John Corigliano review the score to Symphony no. 1 (Terry’s photo)

At the invitation of music director Sir Georg Solti, John Corigliano became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence in 1987, and his Symphony no. 1 was jointly commissioned for the Orchestra’s centennial by the Chicago Symphony and the Meet-the-Composer Orchestra Residencies Program.

“During the past decade I have lost many friends and colleagues to the AIDS epidemic, and the cumulative effect of those losses has, naturally, deeply affected me. My First Symphony was generated by feelings of loss, anger, and frustration,” wrote Corigliano in the program note for the premiere. “A few years ago, I was extremely moved when I first saw ‘The Quilt,’ an ambitious interweaving of several thousand fabric panels, each memorializing a person who had died of AIDS, and, most importantly, each designed and constructed by his or her loved ones. This made me want to memorialize in music those I have lost, and reflect on those I am losing.”

Corigliano album cover

Music director designate Daniel Barenboim conducted the world premiere of the symphony on March 15, 1990, with soloists principal cello John Sharp and, offstage, pianist Stephen Hough. The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—won two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition.

Corigliano served the Orchestra as composer-in-residence until 1990, and he was succeeded by Shulamit Ran (1990–1997), Augusta Read Thomas (1997–2006), Osvaldo Golijov and Mark-Anthony Turnage (2006–2010), Mason Bates and Anna Clyne (2010–2015), and Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek beginning in 2015. In January 2002, CSO trustee Cynthia Sargent and her sister, governing member Sally Hands, endowed the position, and Augusta Read Thomas became the Orchestra’s first Mead Composer-in-Residence.

This article also appears here.

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Heldenleben

On March 6, 1954, Fritz Reiner and the Orchestra recorded together for the first time. For RCA at Orchestra Hall, they committed to disc two works by Richard Strauss: the Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Ein Heldenleben.

“A single condenser microphone, noted for its uniform response and broad pick-up, was suspended approximately sixteen feet above the conductor’s podium to secure the exact balance desired by Dr. Reiner between instrumental choirs of the Orchestra,” according to the liner notes from the original RCA release. “At the time this recording was made, a special microphone set-up was used to make a separate stereophonic recording of the same performance as part of RCA Victor’s continuing policy of development and research in recording techniques.”

Fritz Reiner's autograph on a copy of the original album jacket's liner notes

Fritz Reiner’s autograph on a copy of the original album jacket’s liner notes

“Reiner brought out the opulence of Strauss’s orchestration but never wallowed indulgently in the more episodic moments; instrumental textures were clarified so that transparency of sound was paramount; and climaxes were carefully prepared so that they did not appear bombastic. To successfully balance such a large orchestra while projecting seemingly spontaneous playing was a notable achievement,” wrote Kenneth Morgan in his biography Fritz Reiner: Maestro and Martinet. “Ein Heldenleben, to a critic for Harper’s Magazine [in November 1954], confirmed Reiner as probably the greatest Strauss conductor alive: ‘the razor’s edge combination of lean, hard clarity on a vast orchestral scale and perilously high tension emotionalism is exactly suited to his disciplined directing.’ ”

Over the next eight years, Reiner and the Orchestra recorded several of Strauss’s works: Also sprach Zarathustra and Don Juan (twice each), a suite from Der Bürger als Edelmann, Burleske with pianist Byron Janis, Don Quixote with principal viola Milton Preves and cellist Antonio Janigro, selections from Elektra and Salome with soprano Inge Borkh, waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, and Symphonia domestica.

This article also appears here.

Placido Domingo

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to Plácido Domingo, celebrating his seventh-fifth!

The legendary singer has appeared in Chicago on both concert and opera stages, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and conductor at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and several other venues in Chicago and in Europe. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

October 9, 1987 (special concert celebrating Sir Georg Solti‘s seventy-fifth birthday)
J. STRAUSS, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor
VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
David Huneryager, baritone
Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti 75

October 9, 1987 (Jim Steere photo)

June 27, 1992 (Ravinia Festival)
SAINT SAËNS Samson and Delilah
James Levine, conductor
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
David Anderson, tenor
John Concepcion, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone
Sergei Koptchak, bass
Paul Grizzell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 27, 1994 (Petrillo Music Shell, Grant Park)
Miguel Roa, conductor
Veronica Villaroel, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
SOROZÁBAL Madrileña bonita from La del manojo de Rosas
MORENO TORROBA Los vareadores from Luisa Fernanda
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
PENELLA Torero quiero ser from El gato montés
MORENO TORROBA De este apacible rincón from Luisa Fernanda
GUERRERO Fiel espada from El Huésped del Sevillano
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
CABALLERO No cantes mas from El duo de la Africana
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
SERRANO Te quiero Morena from El trust de los tenorios
LARA Granada

July 6, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Plácido Domingo, conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
SAINT SAËNS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Sarah Chang, violin
SARASATE Concert Fantasies on Carmen, Op. 25
Sarah Chang, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

July 8, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Eugene Kohn, conductor
Kallen Esperian, soprano
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
MOZART Ma qual mai soffre, O Dei, from Don Giovanni, K. 527
VERDI Quando le sere al placido from Luisa Miller
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MEYERBEER O, Paradis! from L’africaine
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore

May 2, 1996 (special concert celebrating Daniel Barenboim‘s Silver Jubilee)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
BERLIOZ Invocation to Nature from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
VERDI Otello’s Death from Otello
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
TCHAIKOVSKY Lenski’s Aria from Eugene Onegin

May 12, 1997 (United Center)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Elizabeth Futral, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MASCAGNI Suzel, buon dì! from L’amico Fritz
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
MOZART Là ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni, K. 527
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
LARA Granada
VERDI Brindisi—Libiamo, libiamo ne’ lieti calici from La traviata

Star-Crossed Lovers

January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

May 13, 15, 16, and 17, 1997 (Medinah Temple)
June 8 and 9, 1997 (Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany)
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 4, 1997 (Symphony Center Opening Night Gala)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
VERDI Niun mi tema from Otello

January 26, 1998 (Star-Crossed Lovers)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana

May 25, 26, 27, and 30, 2000
Plácido Domingo, conductor
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Rachel Barton, violin
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

August 4, 2007 (Ravinia Festival)
James Conlon, conductor
Ana María Martínez, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
PENELLA Duet from El gato montés
LARA Granada
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow

Domingo also recorded with the Orchestra on three occasions:

VERDI Requiem
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on September 20 and 21, 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Erato
(Verdi’s Requiem was performed on September 17, 18, 23, and 25, 1993, with Vicente Ombuena singing the tenor solos; Domingo was in Chicago only on September 20.)

FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 13, 15, 16, and 17, 1997
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Teldec

Star-Crossed Lovers
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 26, 1998
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
London

Happy, happy birthday!

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Riccardo Muti in 1973

Riccardo Muti in 1973

Riccardo Muti made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 25, 1973, leading Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor (with thirty-three-year-old Christoph Eschenbach, the festival’s future music director, in his Ravinia debut), and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

The following day Thomas Willis wrote in the Chicago Tribune: “It is easy to see why Riccardo Muti was the first Italian to win the Guido Cantelli Conducting Competition. The Neapolitan firebrand, still in his early thirties, can galvanize both audiences and an orchestra with the kinetic energy of his beat. In his Midwest debut at Ravinia last night, he asserted command at the first notes of Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide and sustained it until the last of the procession had marched through the Great Gate of Kiev in the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. . . . With the sensitivity to melody of an already seasoned opera conductor, he sets off each tune with a breath, combines short phrases into longer ones, and underlines each high point. Above all, his music is perfectly clear.”

March 20, 21, and 22 1975

March 20, 21, and 22, 1975

Muti’s first Ravinia residency also included Mozart’s Symphony no. 34 and Piano Concerto no. 22 (with Misha Dichter) and Strauss’s Aus Italien on July 27; and Liszt’s Les préludes and Totentanz (with Jean-Bernard Pommier) and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 5 on July 28.

Less than two years later, Muti returned to conduct the Chicago Symphony on subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall on March 20, 21, and 22, 1975, leading Vivaldi’s Concerto in A major for Strings and Continuo, Stravinsky’s Scherzo fantastique, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, and the Orchestra’s first subscription concert performances of Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony.

This article also appears here.

John J. Glessner

Our good friends at the Glessner House Museum have posted a beautiful remembrance of John J. Glessner (read the full post here), commemorating the eightieth anniversary of his passing on January 20, 1936, just six days before his ninety-third birthday. Glessner and his wife Frances (1848–1932) had been among the most generous and loyal supporters of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since its founding in 1891, and he also had served as a trustee since 1898.

One of the many tributes appeared in the Orchestra’s January 23 and 24, 1936, program book, written by Charles H. Hamill, president of The Orchestral Association from 1923 until 1938. Hamill wrote, “To no one man has The Orchestral Association been more beholden. . . . Modest to the point of self-effacement, he was clean of thought, and, when occasion required, vigorous in expression, and always with the Association’s welfare vividly in mind.”

On February 11, 1936, music director Frederick Stock led the Orchestra in Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, dedicated to the memory of his dear friend.

Tribute to John Glessner by Charles H. Hamill

January 23 and 24, 1936

February 11, 1936

February 11, 1936

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December 14, 1904

December 14, 1904

On December 14, 1904, Orchestra Hall first opened its doors with a grand dedicatory concert, with Theodore Thomas leading the Chicago Orchestra along with the Apollo Musical and Mendelssohn clubs.

For nearly the first fourteen years of its history, the Orchestra had performed at
Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Theatre. However, the hall was far too cavernous for an orchestra; filling 4,000 seats twice weekly was an overwhelming challenge; and there were constant scheduling conflicts with other ensembles. It was rarely a problem getting a ticket to hear the Orchestra, and as a result, season subscriptions were nearly unmarketable.

Thomas initiated a campaign for a new hall, and in 1902 the property at the site of Leroy Payne’s livery stable—on Michigan Avenue between the Pullman Building and the Railway Exchange Building*—became available. Daniel H. Burnham, John J. Glessner, and Bryan Lathrop, along with seven other trustees, initially carried the purchase price, while the Orchestral Association issued an appeal to Chicagoans to secure the $750,000 needed to build a new hall. More than 8,000 individuals contributed.

Orchestra Hall nearly finished in the late fall of 1904 (note "offices for rent" sign above a ballroom window)

Orchestra Hall nearly finished in the late fall of 1904 (note “offices for rent” sign above a ballroom window)

Ground was broken on May 1, 1904, and seven months later, Thomas led the first rehearsal in the hall on December 6. He sent a telegram to Burnham the next day: “Hall a complete success. Quality exceeds all expectations.”

At the beginning of the dedicatory concert on December 14, Thomas led the Orchestra and choruses in “Hail! Bright Abode” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. George Everett Adams, second president of the Orchestral Association from 1894 until 1899 (and a trustee from 1894 until 1917) and one of the ten men who helped secure the Michigan Avenue property, was given the honor of delivering an inaugural address. “We have built here a noble hall of music. It is a merely material structure of brick, and stone, and steel. We have not, and we cannot, put into this building its living soul. That is a task for other hands than ours.”

Daniel Burnham's near-final elevation, May 18, 1904**

Daniel Burnham’s near-final elevation, May 18, 1904**

The program continued with the Overture to Tannhäuser, Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony—music “devoted to the serious contemplation of the soul, its struggles here, and its triumphs hereafter”—and concluded with “Hallelujah!” from Handel’s Messiah.

*The Pullman Building was completed in 1885 and demolished in 1956; the Borg-Warner Building was completed in 1958. The Railway Exchange Building, designed by D.H. Burnham & Company, was completed in 1904.

**Burnham’s elevation for the façade of Orchestra Hall included the names of five composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Brahms. However, it was decided that Brahms was too contemporary (he had only died in 1897), and he was replaced with Schubert. To maintain chronological order, the names were rearranged: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner.

Chicago Examiner, December 15, 1904

Chicago Examiner, December 15, 1904

December 14, 1904

December 14, 1904

This article also appears here.

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January 2 and 3, 1958

January 2 and 3, 1958

Leopold Stokowski made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 2 and 3, 1958, in a program that included his orchestrations of several chorales by J.S. Bach, Brahms’s Second Symphony, Szabelski’s Toccata, and the finale from act 3 of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Over the next decade, he was a frequent visitor, leading concerts in Orchestra Hall and at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee.

On February 15 and 16, 1968, Stokowski returned to Chicago to conduct the Orchestra in Shostakovich’s Suite from The Golden Age and Symphony no. 6, along with Khachaturian’s Symphony no. 3. The following week at Medinah Temple, RCA recorded the program along with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture. On the subsequent release, the two works by Shostakovich were paired, and Khachaturian’s symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov’s overture were released on the same album.

Leopold Stokowski and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording Khachaturian’s Symphony no. 3 at Medinah Temple in February 1968

Leopold Stokowski and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording Khachaturian’s Symphony no. 3 at Medinah Temple in February 1968 (Terry’s photo)

“This is probably the best Age of Gold ever to be recorded—and it is certainly the funniest,” wrote the reviewer in High Fidelity. Stokowski “brings out all of the work’s many instrumental nuances, and he also manages to exploit the full potential of each melodic line and underline the ballet’s oft-changing moods.” And the writer in Stereo Review raved that Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony was “gloriously played by Stokowski and the Chicagoans and well worth the price by itself.”

Regarding Khachaturian’s Symphony no. 3, the American Record Guide praised “the excellent organ [played by Mary Sauer] used in the performance, the satisfactory way in which it is brought into relation with the regular orchestra and the special trumpet choir [augmented to fifteen players], Stokowski’s own sharp ear for color, and the Chicago Symphony’s responsive playing.”

This article also appears here.

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Less than a month after its inaugural concerts, the Chicago Orchestra was in the pit at the Auditorium Theatre for performances by the Metropolitan Opera Company (under the auspices of the Abbey-Grau Company) from November 9 until December 12, 1891. Conducting duties were shared by Auguste Vianesi and Louis Saar, the Orchestra’s first guest conductors.

Wagner's Lohengrin (sung in Italian) was the first opera presented in collaboration with the Chicago Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera on November 9, 1891

Wagner’s Lohengrin (sung in Italian) was the first opera presented in collaboration with the Chicago Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera on November 9, 1891

The singers who appeared were among the most famous of the day, including sopranos Emma Albani, Lilli Lehmann, and Marie Van Zandt, and mezzo-soprano Sofia Scalchi. During the residency, several prominent singers made their U.S. debuts, including soprano Emma Eames, tenor Jean de Reszke, baritones Edoardo Camera and Jean Martapoura, and basses Edouard de Reszke and Jules Vinche. A staggering number of operas were performed, including Bellini’s Norma and La sonnambula; Flotow’s Martha; Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice; Gounod’s Faust and Romeo and Juliet; Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana; Meyerbeer’s Dinorah and Les Huguenots; Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Thomas’s Mignon; Verdi’s Aida, Rigoletto, and act 1 of La traviata; and Wagner’s Lohengrin. The residency also included the Metropolitan Opera Company’s first performance of Verdi’s Otello, on November 23.* The cast included Jean de Reszke in the title role, Albani as Desdemona, and Camera as Iago.

During Theodore Thomas’s tenure as music director, the Metropolitan returned in March 1894, March 1896, February-April 1897, November 1898, and November 1899.

* There only had been four previous performances of Otello (all with tenor Francesco Tamagno, who had created the title role at La Scala on February 5, 1887) in Chicago, given under the auspices of Henry Abbey’s Grand Italian Opera Company on January 2 and 3, and March 12 and 14, 1890 (Abbey was not the official impresario at the Metropolitan that season). The Grand Italian Opera Company also gave three performances (also with Tamagno) at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on March 24, 29, and April 4, 1890, while the resident German company was on tour.

This article also appears here.

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October 12, 13, and 14, 1978

October 12, 13, and 14, 1978

Carlos Kleiber made his U.S. debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 12, 13, and 14, 1978, conducting Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, Schubert’s Third Symphony, and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

“Kleiber’s arrival here was preceded by almost as much excited anticipation and ecstatic European notices as greeted [Sir Georg] Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini when they gave their first performances with the Orchestra back in the mid-1950s. . . . Is the man really as good as everyone says he is?” asked John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. He answered his own question. “Thursday night provided the answer: No, he is even better.” Von Rhein continued, “He pays this orchestra the ultimate (and how seldom realized!) complimentby simply letting it play. He obviously values passion over deliberation, intensity over clinical perfection, spontaneity over calculation. He is a conductor of rare brilliance, and rarer humility. . . . It sounded in fact like an entirely different orchestra, and it delivered one of the most electrifying kinetic Fifths this reviewer has ever heard.”

Carlos Kleiber and the Orchestra acknowledge applause following a performance of Brahms's Symphony no. 2 on June 3, 1983

Carlos Kleiber and the Orchestra acknowledge applause following a performance of Brahms’s Symphony no. 2 on June 3, 1983 (Terry’s photo)

Kleiber returned for a second engagement on June 2, 3, and 4, 1983, to lead the Orchestra in Butterworth’s English Idyll no. 1, Mozart’s Symphony no. 33, and Brahms’s Symphony no. 2. “Every score is seen both as a unity and as a series of flowing phrases, each one of which is to be shaped, colored, balanced, and accented as perfectly as possible,” wrote Robert C. Marsh in the Chicago Sun-Times. “There is never the slightest suggestion of routine, the lapse into the standard reading. Every bar is a fresh adventure, an invitation to discovery. His insight is exceptional. He can play music you think you know forward and backwards and show you one new vision after another.”

This article also appears here.

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