Housed in a quiet corner of Symphony Center, the Samuel R. and Marie Louise Rosenthal Archives provides a comfortable setting for serious research as well as casual study. Since its founding in 1990, the Archives has welcomed thousands of visitors from around the world to its reading room where collections—documenting the activities of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and Orchestra Hall—are made available to the general public. Whether a Symphony Center patron, student, scholar, or music aficionado, the Rosenthal Archives offers unique and historically significant collections of manuscripts, recordings, scores, photographs, and videos that capture the legacy of one of the world’s greatest orchestras.
Frank Villella has been a member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Rosenthal Archives’ staff since 1993, serving as archivist since 2002 and director since 2014. He is responsible for the preservation and access of collections that document the activities of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and Symphony Center. For the Orchestra, Frank has co-produced several compilations of archival sound recordings, written for the CSO’s program book and syndicated radio broadcasts, and contributed research to Sir Georg Solti’s Memoirs and biographies of Jacqueline du Pré, Isaac Stern, Bruno Walter, and Carlo Maria Giulini. He is the author of Chicago Symphony Orchestra: 125 Moments.
Also an active musician, Frank regularly performs and records with Schola Antiqua of Chicago, The Rookery, and the William Ferris Chorale. He is a twenty-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, where he served as a section leader and appeared on numerous recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, London, Erato, Teldec, Nonesuch, American Gramaphone, and CSO Resound, including two Grammy Award winners: Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg conducted by Sir Georg Solti and Verdi’s Requiem conducted by Riccardo Muti.
Frank is president of the board of directors for the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago and a board member of the International Music Foundation. He also has served on the board of governors of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the board of directors of Rush Hour Concerts and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus.
The Archives recently concluded a three-year audio digitization and preservation project of radio broadcast masters, interviews, and oral histories. The project was funded in part by grants from the GRAMMY Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and Save America’s Treasures through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.