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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary soprano Jessye Norman, who died earlier today in New York. She was 74.

Jessye Norman (Royal Philharmonic Society photo)

A frequent visitor to Chicago—on concert, recital, and opera stages—Norman appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and narrator on many occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of her performances and recordings with the Orchestra is below.

March 21, 22, and 23, 1974, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri, Op. 50
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Birgit Finnilä, contralto
Ernst Haefliger, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Sarah Beatty, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 29, 30, and 31, 1975, Orchestra Hall
LA MONTAINE Songs of the Rose of Sharon, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

August 9, 1975, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
Edo de Waart, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Receiving bows following Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986

Receiving bows following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 7, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K. 505
Edward Gordon, piano
RAVEL Sheherazade
BERLIOZ The Death of Cleopatra
WAGNER Wesendonk-Lieder
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 9, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
James Levine, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Jessye Norman, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Kirk Stuart, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 8, 1979, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981. For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the executive producer, Werner Mayer was the recording producer, and Günther Breest was the balance engineer.

December 1, 2, and 3, 1983, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
David Rendall, tenor

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 (Solti 2)

September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on September 29 and 30, 1986. For London Records, Michael Haas was the producer, John Pellowe was the engineer, and Neil Hutchinson was tape editor. The recording won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 1, 1988, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Act 1 of Die Walküre
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass

July 5, 1992, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS  Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27, No. 1
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1
STRAUSS Die heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland, Op. 56, No. 6
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Boulez Bluebeard

December 2, 4, and 7, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Larry Russo, narrator
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 6 and 13, 1993. For Deutsche Grammophon, Roger Wright was the executive producer, Pål Christian Moe was the associate producer, Karl-August Naegler was the recording producer, Helmut Burk was the balance engineer, Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers, and Hans-Ulrich Bastin was the editor. Nicholas Simon was the narrator for the commercial release. The recording won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

June 22, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Villanelle, Le spectre de la rose Sur les lagunes, and L’ile inconnue from Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
RAVEL Sheherazade
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

James Conlon acknowledges Norman following her narration of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait at the Ravinia Festival on July 18, 2009 (Russell Jenkins photo)

June 21, 1997, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Vado, ma dove?, K. 583
MOZART Porgi amor from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
BIZET Habanera from Carmen
SAINT-SAËNS Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson and Delilah
STRAUSS Final Scene from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 18, 2009, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
James Conlon, conductor
Jessye Norman, narrator

Norman also also appeared in recital and as soloist in Orchestra Hall (under the auspices of Allied Arts and later Symphony Center Presents) on the following occasions:

Jessye Norman in Orchestra Hall on May 19, 2002 (Peter Thompson for the Chicago Tribune)

January 5, 1986
Phillip Moll, piano

October 20, 1986
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Berlin Philharmonic
James Levine, conductor
Herbert von Karajan was originally scheduled to conduct Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Ein Heldenleben, but he canceled a week before the performance due to illness. The revised program was Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Strauss’s song cycle, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

October 23, 1988
James Levine, piano

March 20, 1992
Phillip Moll, piano

April 2, 1995
Ann Schein, piano

June 3, 1998
Ken Noda, piano

May 19, 2002
Mark Markham, piano

Numerous tributes have been posted on CNN, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, and NPR, among many others.

Teufel Hunden,
Charles Buckles Falls,
U.S., 1917

The recruitment poster at left, from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections, shows a “devil dog” bulldog wearing a U.S. Marine helmet chasing a dachshund wearing a German helmet.

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1913-14 Chicago Symphony Orchestra roster

Up until the outbreak of World War I, the roster of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians had primarily been European since its founding in 1891. The ensemble’s first two music directors—Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock—were German immigrants, and their native language was spoken in leading rehearsals.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, tensions were high as the Orchestra performed works with strong nationalistic themes at a Ravinia Park matinee on August 14, 1914. Russian musicians taunted a Frenchman after Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; Belgian principal clarinet Joseph Schreurs, “gritted his teeth as the musicians next swept through Die Wacht am Rhein,” a German patriotic anthem; and “several Germans snapped the strings on their violins while playing La Marseillaise . . . Quarrels arose [and] internal strife, fanned by patriotic fervor, threatened to disrupt the organization.” The article is here.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, October 25, 1917 (Kaufmann & Fabry photo)

At the annual meeting of the Orchestral Association in December 1917, board president Clyde M. Carr addressed rumors regarding Orchestra members’ patriotism, reporting, “out of approximately one hundred members, there are only two who have not taken out their final papers,” completing their American citizenship. “There is no orchestra in America more unimpeachable in its Americanism.”

Musicians’ resolution

On April 6, 1918, Orchestra musicians drafted a resolution affirming their loyalty to the U. S. Charles Hamill, first vice president of the board, read the resolutions to the audience at that evening’s concert, declaring the Orchestra faithful to America “from the conductor to the kettle drum.”

While at Ravinia Park on August 6, 1918, seven members of the Orchestra were served notices to report to assistant district attorney Francis Borelli the following day, to answer charges that they had expressed pro-German sentiments. Accusations had been submitted against orchestra manager and trumpet Albert Ulrich; principal timpani Joseph Zettelmann, who had expressed contempt for The Star-Spangled Banner; trumpet William Hebs, who refused to stand during the anthem; and bass trombone Richard Kuss, who reportedly said he would kill any son of his who learned English. The article is here.

An August 16, 1918, letter to the Chicago Tribune editor expressed subscribers’ “faith in the loyalty of the majority of the members of the Orchestra.” The article is here.

Following the investigation, on October 10, 1918—the day before the first concert of the Orchestra’s twenty-eighth season—the Chicago Federation of Musicians announced that oboe Otto Hesselbach, bassoon William Krieglstein, bass trombone Richard Kuss, and principal cello Bruno Steindel were expelled from the union. All four had been tried on the same charge: “acting in a manner derogatory to the interests of the local and its members through unpatriotic actions and utterances.” The article is here.

Otto Hesselbach

In February 1919, the Chicago Federation of Musicians recommended conditional reinstatement of Hesselbach, Krieglstein, and Kuss, but not Steindel. Hesselbach and Krieglstein complied; Kuss did not. The article is here.

Otto Hesselbach (1862–?) was hired by Theodore Thomas in 1893 as oboe and principal english horn, and he also was occasionally listed as a member of the viola section. He was reinstated to the Orchestra in 1919 and served until 1928.

William Krieglstein and Richard Kuss

After emigrating from Austria in 1907, William Krieglstein (1884–1952) moved to Chicago and joined the Orchestra in 1912 as bassoon and principal contrabassoon, and beginning in 1915, he also was rostered as a bass. After his reengagement in 1919, Krieglstein was a member until 1929.

Richard Kuss (1883–1957) came to the U.S. from Germany in 1907 and served as bass trombone from 1912 until 1918. He was reinstated to the union in 1919 and remained in the city, primarily working for the Chicago Opera, but was not reengaged by the Orchestra.

Bruno Steindel

Former principal cello of the Berlin Philharmonic, Bruno Steindel (1866–1949) had played under Brahms, Dvořák, Grieg, Richard Strauss, and Tchaikovsky when he was chosen by Theodore Thomas as the Chicago Orchestra’s founding principal cello in 1891. Following the investigation, he tendered his resignation on October 1, 1918. Steindel continued to perform in Chicago, as principal cello of the Chicago Civic Opera and giving concerts for the benefit of German war orphans, despite protests by American Legion posts. The article is here.

Steindel Trio

Steindel’s wife Mathilde, a pianist who frequently performed with the Steindel Trio (along with CSO violin Fritz Itte), had become depressed over the countless accusations her husband had received in the press. On the evening of March 5, 1921, she committed suicide by drowning herself in Lake Michigan. The next morning at the foot of Farwell Avenue, the police found her automobile, its lights “still ablaze. Her expensive fur coat, which she had cast off before jumping into the lake, lay on the pier.” The article is here.

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A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.

This article also appears here. For event listings, please visit cso.org/armistice.

This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.

Additional thanks to Shawn Sheehy and Jenna Harmon, along with the Arts Club of Chicago, Newberry Library, Poetry Foundation, and Ravinia Festival Association.

Before and during his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, Daniel Barenboim was firmly committed to introducing new works to Chicago audiences. He also was instrumental in the continued cultivation of the Orchestra’s composer-in-residence program, frequently conducting works by John Corigliano, Shulamit Ran, and Augusta Read Thomas. With the Orchestra, Barenboim led over thirty world and U.S. premieres, and a complete list is below (all performances in Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted; an asterisk (*) indicates a work commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).

Barenboim and John Corigliano review the score to his Symphony no. 1 in March 1990 (Terry’s photo)

World premieres

March 8, 1990
*Tōru Takemitsu Visions
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 15, 1990
*John Corigliano Symphony No. 1
Stephen Hough, piano
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 14, 1990 (Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois)
*Stephen Kowalsky Last Voyage
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Barenboim acknowledges Shulamit Ran following the world premiere of her Legends on October 7, 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

April 30, 1991
*Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Concerto for Bass Trombone, Strings, Timpani, and Cymbals
Charles Vernon, bass trombone
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 4, 1993
*Melinda Wagner Falling Angels
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

October 7, 1993
*Shulamit Ran Legends for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Barenboim and the Orchestra acknowledge Elliott Carter following the world premiere of his Partita on February 17, 1994 (Jim Steere photo)

February 17, 1994
*Elliott Carter Partita
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

October 12, 1995
*York Höller Aura
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 30, 1997
*Jay Alan Yim Rough Magic
Daniel Barenboim

May 15, 1997
*Aribert Reimann Violin Concerto
Gidon Kremer, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 5, 1998
*Sir Harrison Birtwistle Exody
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 12, 1998
Max Raimi Elegy
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Two pages of Pierre Boulez’s manuscript score for Notations VII

January 14, 1999
*Pierre Boulez Notations VII for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 11, 1999
Elias Tanenbaum First Bassman for Contrabass and Orchestra
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 6, 2000
*Augusta Read Thomas Ceremonial
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 13, 2001 (Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland)
*Hanspeter Kyburz Noesis for Large Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 27, 2001
*Elliott Carter Cello Concerto
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Texts for the first two sections of Bernard Rands’s apókryphos, as included in the printed score

May 8, 2003
*Bernard Rands apókryphos
Angela Denoke, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 22, 2003
*Melinda Wagner Extremity of Sky (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra)
Emanuel Ax, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 29, 2003
Elliott Carter Of Rewaking
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

October 9, 2003
*Lalo Schifrin Fantasy for Screenplay and Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 19, 2005
*George Benjamin Dance Figures (Nine choreographic scenes for orchestra)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Title page detail for Augusta Read Thomas’s score for Astral Canticle

October 6, 2005
*Elliott Carter Soundings
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

February 16, 2006
*Isabel Mundry Nocturno
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 1, 2006
*Augusta Read Thomas Astral Canticle
Mathieu Dufour, flute
Robert Chen, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

United States premieres

November 7, 1985
Siefgried Wagner Sehnsucht
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 9, 1991
Pierre Boulez Four movements from Le visage nuptial
(I. Conduite; II. Gravité. L’emmuré; IV. Evadné; and V. Post-scriptum)
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano
Lucy Shelton, soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

In 1995, Teldec released recordings of three CSO world premieres, all conducted by Barenboim: Carter’s Partita, Berio’s Continuo, and Takemitsu’s Visions.

May 16, 1991
Edison Denisov Symphonie pour grande orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 7, 1993
*Luciano Berio Continuo
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

October 1, 1998
Rodion Shchedrin Concerto cantabile
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 30, 1999
*Wolfgang Rihm Sotto voce
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

Barenboim with Augusta Read Thomas during a rehearsal for the world premiere of her Aurora—co-commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic—in Berlin in June 2000

February, 24, 2000
Elliott Carter What Next?
Simone Nold, soprano
Lynne Dawson, soprano
Hilary Summers, contralto
William Joyner, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Michael John Devine, boy soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 21, 2000
*Augusta Read Thomas Aurora
Elizabeth Norman, soprano
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

October 4, 2001
*Isabel Mundry Panorama ciego
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

December 13, 2001
Wilhelm Furtwängler Symphony No. 2 in E Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to conductor Herbert Blomstedt, celebrating his ninetieth today!

Over the past thirty years, Maestro Blomstedt has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on several occasions:

January 7, 9, 9, and 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Ivan Moravec, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

February 22, 23, 24, and 27, 1990
HADYN Symphony No. 86 in D Major
LADERMAN Cello Concerto (world premiere)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70

January 24, 25, 26, and 29, 1991
SIBELIUS The Swan of Tuonela from Four Legends of the Kalevala, Op. 22
Grover Schiltz, english horn
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Rubén González, violin
NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (Sinfonia espansiva)
Jane Green, soprano
William Diana, baritone

Herbert Blomstedt (Martin Lengemann photo)

March 5, 6, 7, and 11, 1998
MENDELSSOHN The Hebrides Overture, Op. 26
DUTILLEUX Tout un monde lointain . . .
Lynn Harrell, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

June 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2007
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Annalena Persson, soprano
Ingeborg Danz, contralto
Robert Künzli, tenor
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

Blomstedt’s colleagues at the Berlin Philharmonic have just posted this delightful tribute (added on July 14, 2017):

Happy, happy birthday!

Herbert Blomstedt appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on March 1, 2, and 3, 2018, leading Mozart’s Symphony no. 39 and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3.

Fellner

Austrian pianist Till Fellner is in Chicago this week to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 22 with the Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink. And in between rehearsals, he visited the Rosenthal Archives to do a little research on his great-grandfather’s brother’s son—that would be his first cousin twice removed—Hugo Kortschak, who was a former violinist and assistant concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Here’s a summary of what Fellner discovered:

Kortschak's advance program biography for his March 1912 performances

Kortschak’s advance program biography for his March 1912 performances

After studying violin with Otakar Ševčík and composition with Antonín Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory, Hugo Kortschak (1884–1957) briefly was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic. He soon moved to Frankfurt to accept a position with the Museums Quartet and to be an instructor with Hugo Heermann‘s violin school. In 1906 (possibly 1907), he followed Heermann to Chicago, when the latter accepted a post at the Chicago Musical College; and upon his arrival, Kortschak accepted an invitation from second music director Frederick Stock to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the 1907–08 season. He briefly returned to Europe to pursue further study before coming back to Chicago as assistant concertmaster in 1910 through 1912 and (following a European concert tour in 1912–13) again for the 1913–14 season. While in Chicago, he founded the Kortschak Quartet in 1913 which, with the encouragement of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, became the Berkshire String Quartet. After his tenure in Chicago, Kortschak later was head of the violin department at Yale University and in his retirement was a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Kortschak also was soloist with the Orchestra on several occasions—all with Stock conducting—as follows:

March 17 and 18, 1911
AULIN Violin Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 14

March 22 and 23, 1912
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218

December 5 and 6, 1913
NOREN Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 38 (U.S. premiere)

October 30 and 31, 1914
GOLDMARK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 28

Claudio Abbado

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Claudio Abbado, who served as our principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985. Abbado died peacefully on Monday, January 20 in Bologna, Italy, following a long illness. He was 80.

A frequent and beloved guest conductor, Abbado made his debut with the Orchestra in January 1971, leading three weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out concert to Milwaukee:

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971
January 11, 1971 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Josef Suk, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

debut program

. . . and Abbado’s program book biography

debut program page

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971, program page . . .

January 14 & 15, 1971
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Helen Watts, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Barbara Born, director

January 21, 22 & 23, 1971
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor

He returned to Chicago frequently, both before and after his tenure as principal guest conductor—also leading domestic tour concerts including stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Carnegie Hall—and his final appearances with the Orchestra were in March 1991. Abbado’s residencies included numerous collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and he also led the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on multiple occasions.

His repertoire with the Orchestra covered a broad spectrum including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky; concertos by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Bruch, Chopin, Hindemith, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, Schumann, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky; as well as twentieth-century works by Boulez, Ligeti, Rihm, and Webern. Some of Abbado’s most memorable concerts included complete performances of Berg’s Wozzeck, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Schoenberg’s Ewartung, Stockhausen’s Gruppen for Three Orchestras, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Pulcinella, and Verdi’s Requiem.

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg's Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg’s Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado collaborated with a vast array of soloists including instrumentalists Salvatore Accardo, Carter Brey, Natalia Gutman, Yuzuko Horigome, Zoltán Kocsis, Cecile Licad, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Shlomo Mintz, Viktoria Mullova, Ken Noda, Ivo Pogorelich, Maurizio Pollini, David Schrader, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Josef Suk, and Pinchas Zukerman; vocalists Francisco Araiza, Hildegard Behrens, Gabriela Beňačková, Rockwell Blake, Claudio Desderi, Maria Ewing, Donald Gramm, Aage Haugland, Marilyn Horne, Gwynne Howell, Philip Langridge, Benjamin Luxon, Carol Neblett, Margaret Price, Ruggero Raimondi, Samuel Ramey, Hanna Schwarz, Ellen Shade, John Shirley-Quirk, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, and Helen Watts; narrator Maximilian Schell; and CSO members Victor Aitay, Dale Clevenger, Willard Elliot, Adolph Herseth, Samuel Magad, Frank Miller, Mary Sauer, and Ray Still.

Following his last CSO guest conducting engagement in 1991, Abbado returned to Chicago on three occasions with the Berlin Philharmonic:

Berlin program

Abbado’s final appearance in Chicago, with the Berlin Philharmonic on October 10, 2001

October 22, 1993
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

October 18, 1999
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Anna Larsson, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director

October 10, 2001
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

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In a recent, beautifully crafted article in The Guardian, Ed Vulliamy wrote, “Solti’s shattering Mahler Ninth at the Royal Festival Hall with the Chicago orchestra in 1981 left anyone who heard it dazed with wonderment.”

Sir Georg Solti first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall in April 1981 and then later that year during a European tour, culminating on September 19, 1981, with that performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. He and the Orchestra next performed it on a musicians’ pension fund concert on April 28, 1982, and recorded it the following week in Orchestra Hall.

Richard Osborne’s review in Gramophone magazine, disagreeing somewhat with Vulliamy, noted: “When Solti conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in London in the autumn of 1981 the critic of The Financial Times observed: ‘Solti obviously knew how this music should go but not why.’ Such a reading would be an evident act of self-parody, for it is to this very theme—the modern world’s nightmarish preoccupation with sensation, spiralling, self-referring and impossible to assuage—that Mahler so fearlessly addresses himself in the symphony’s third movement, the Rondo Burleske. It’s clear, though, from the present recording, made in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in May 1982, that Solti’s sense of the music is a good deal more rooted than it appeared to be amid the unsettling razzmatazz of an end-of-tour London performance.

“The new performance has a measure of repose about it as well as much splendour. The second movement is robust and resilient as Mahler directs. There is defiance and obstinacy in the third movement, an awful power which illuminates the music rather than the orchestra’s known expertise.” (Osborne’s review goes on to favor Herbert von Karajan‘s 1980 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (on Deutsche Grammophon), perhaps because he was already working on his excellent biography of the conductor.)

James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock was the engineer for London Records. The recording won the 1983 Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Recording, Best Engineered Recording—Classical, and Best Classical Album from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus dominated that year at the Grammy Awards, also winning for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) for Haydn’s The Creation. Solti also won for Best Opera Recording for Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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During his twenty-two years as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1969 until 1991), Sir Georg Solti shared the podium with several other titled conductors, who served in a variety of capacities.

Irwin Hoffman

Irwin Hoffman was appointed assistant conductor by Jean Martinon in 1964 and was promoted to associate conductor the following year. After Martinon’s departure and before Solti’s arrival, Hoffman served as the CSO’s acting music director for the 1968-69 season and held the title of conductor for the 1969-70 season.

Carlo Maria Giulini

Carlo Maria Giulini was the CSO’s first principal guest conductor, serving in that capacity for three seasons, beginning in 1969-70. A frequent guest conductor, Giulini appeared and recorded (for Angel and Deutsche Grammophon) with the Orchestra numerous times between 1955 and 1978, after which he began his tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (An excellent biography of Giulini—Serving Genius—was recently published by the University of Illinois Press.)

Claudio Abbado

From 1982 until 1985, Claudio Abbado was the Orchestra’s second principal guest conductor. He also conducted and recorded (for Deutsche Grammophon) with the CSO numerous times between 1971 and 1991. Also during that time, he was music director at La Scala (1968 until 1986), principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1979 until 1987), music director of the Vienna State Opera (1986 until 1991), and chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (beginning in 1989).

Henry Mazer

A former protégé of Fritz Reiner, Henry Mazer was appointed by Solti in 1970 as associate conductor, and he served the CSO in that capacity for sixteen years until 1986. He became music director of the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra in 1985.

Margaret Hillis

Founder and longtime chorus director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Margaret Hillis was hired by Fritz Reiner in 1957 and was the first woman to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in November of that year. Of course, she prepared the Chorus for virtually all choral concerts during Solti’s tenure as music director, worked very closely with Solti on countless recordings, and appeared frequently as a guest conductor with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Kenneth Jean

Michael Morgan

In 1986, Sir Georg Solti appointed two American-born associate conductors, Kenneth Jean and Michael Morgan. Each served the Orchestra until 1993. In 1986, Jean also became music director of the Florida Symphony Orchestra. Morgan was named music director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 1990 and music director of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997.

István Kertész

At the Ravinia Festival, two conductors served as titled conductors during Sir Georg Solti’s tenure. Fellow Hungarian István Kertész first led the CSO at Ravinia in 1967 and was principal conductor from 1970 until 1972. Prior to that, his posts included: chief conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Hungary, general music director of the Augsburg Opera, general music director of the Cologne Opera, and principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

James Levine

On June 24, 1971, twenty-eight-year-old James Levine replaced an indisposed Kertész in a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Ravinia Festival. (He had made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera only a few weeks earlier, on June 5). Shortly thereafter, he was named the festival’s music director beginning in the summer of 1973 and held the post for twenty years, until 1993. Levine has been the longtime music director of the Metropolitan Opera since 1976.

Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim first guest conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1970, and he subsequently was a frequent visitor on the podium and in recording (for Angel, Deutsche Grammophon, and Erato). On January 30, 1989, The Orchestral Association announced that he would become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, beginning in September 1991 (he had also succeeded Solti as music director of the Orchestra de Paris in 1975). Barenboim was given the title music director designate.

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Theodore Thomas

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