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Sir Georg Solti and Birgit Nilsson studying the score for Strauss's Salome (Terry's photo)

Sir Georg Solti and Birgit Nilsson studying the score for Strauss’s Salome (Terry’s photo)

Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson sang the title role in Strauss’s Salome with Sir Georg Solti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in concerts at Orchestra Hall on December 13 and 15, 1974, and on December 18 in Carnegie Hall. The cast also included Ruth Hesse as Herodias, Ragnar Ulfung as Herod, Norman Bailey as Jochanaan, and George Shirley as Narraboth.

“Superb is hardly the word for Miss Nilsson’s performance of the title role. Hers was a formidable triumph,” wrote Karen Monson in the Chicago Daily News. “She had superb help from Solti, who conducted the mightily convoluted score ingeniously . . . [maintaining] a miraculous balance between voices and instruments.”

December 13 and 15, 1974

December 13 and 15, 1974

“The key to the performance was the combination of the great Salome voice of the century with the great Salome conductor of our day and an orchestra that has been dedicated to Strauss’s cause for all its eighty-four years,” added Robert C. Marsh in the Chicago Sun-Times. Nilsson “gave a performance which, I believe, could not have been duplicated for its strength and depth of insight and vocal richness by any other living singer.”

Following the December 18 concert in Carnegie Hall, Harold C. Schoenberg in The New York Times concluded, “This was a Salome of thrilling impact, well deserving of the cheers that greeted the last note. Mr. Solti remains the conducting idol of New York.”

Nilsson would appear with the Orchestra once more, on a run-out concert to Michigan State University for the gala opening and dedication of the Wharton Center for Performing Arts on September 25, 1982. She performed excerpts from Wagner’s operas, including “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser and Isolde’s narrative from act 1 and the Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. Reynald Giovaninetti conducted.

This article also appears here.

Congratulations to tenor George Shirley upon receiving a National Medal of Arts yesterday from President Barack Obama!

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama at the White House on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

The medal is the highest award given to artists by the United States government and is awarded by the president to individuals or organizations who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

George Shirley has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions—as tenor soloist and narrator—and a complete list of his performances is below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

George Shirley

December 16, 18, and 19, 1970
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Donath, soprano
Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 22, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Justino Díaz, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2, and 3, 1973
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Wendy Fine, soprano (November 1)
Sarah Beatty, soprano (November 2 and 3)
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Theo Adam, bass-baritone (November 1 and 2)
Thomas Paul, bass (November 3)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 18, 1974 (Carnegie Hall)
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

May 6, 7, 8, and 11, 1999
IVES Three Places in New England
John Adams, conductor
George Shirley, reader
(To set the stage for each section, Shirley read texts by Charles Ives and Henry David Thoreau.)

Congratulations!

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During his tenure as music director, Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra traveled to Carnegie Hall nearly every season. A complete list of those concerts are below:

January 8, 1970
HAYDN Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major
BARTÓK Dance Suite
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

January 9, 1970
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
Helen Watts, contralto
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

December 7, 1970
LEVY Concerto for Piano No. 1
Earl Wild, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

December 8, 1970
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

April 27, 1971
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Woglinde Karen Altman, soprano
Wellgunde Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Helen Watts, contralto
Alberich Rolf Kuhne, bass
Wotan David Ward, bass
Fricka Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
Freia Karen Altman, soprano
Fasolt Martti Talvela, bass
Fafner Hans Sotin, bass
Donner Thomas Paul, bass
Froh Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Loge Gerhard Stolze, tenor
Mime John Lanigan, tenor
Erda Helen Watts, contralto

November 17, 1971
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (Rhenish)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

November 20, 1971
SCHOENBERG Moses and Aron
Moses Hans Hotter, speaker
Aron Richard Lewis, tenor
A Young Girl Karen Altman, soprano
A Young Man Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Another Man Benjamin Matthews, baritone
Priest Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
An Invalid Woman Emilie Miller, mezzo-contralto
Ephraimite Stephen Swanson, baritone
A Naked Youth Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Four Naked Virgins Barbara Pearson and Nancy Clevenger, sopranos; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto
Three Elders Alfred Reichel and Jack Abraham, baritones; Eugene Johnson, bass
Six Solo Voices in the Orchestra Barbara Pearson, soprano; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto; William Wahman, tenor; Stephen Swanson and Arthur Berg, baritones
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Barbara Born, director

April 19, 1972
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Stuart Burrows, tenor

April 22, 1972
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14A

December 6, 1972
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Josephine Veasey, contralto
Faust Stuart Burrows, tenor
Mephistopheles Robert Savoie, baritone
Brander Roger Soyer, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

December 9, 1972
MENDELSSOHN Overture to Fingal’s Cave, Op. 26
BARTÓK Concert for Violin, No. 2
Isaac Stern, violin
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

May 2, 1973
WAGNER Act 3 of Götterdämmerung
Gutrune Karen Altman, soprano
Brunnhilde Helga Dernesch, soprano
Woglinde Barbara Pearson, soprano
Wellgunde Gwendolyn Jones, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jess Thomas, tenor
Gunther Donald Gramm, bass
Hagen Martti Talvela, bass
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Boldrey, assistant director

May 4, 1973
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

November 14, 1973
WEBER Overture to Oberon
HENZE Heliogabalus Imperator
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

November 17, 1973
BACH Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

May 1, 1974
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Judith Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Bluebeard Zoltán Kelemen, baritone

May 4, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

December 17, 1974
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Samuel Magad, violin
Ralph Zeitlin, recorder
Ray Still, oboe
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
SCHOENBERG Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

December 18, 1974
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

December 20, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
ELGAR Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 63

December 21, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

April 29, 1975
STRAVINSKY Symphony in C
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major

April 30, 1975
VERDI Requiem
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 2, 1975
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Tamás Vásáry, piano
STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

May 10, 1976
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

May 12, 1976
MENDELSSOHN Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Alicia de Larrocha, piano
DEBUSSY La mer

May 14, 1976
WAGNER Der fliegende Höllander
The Dutchman Norman Bailey, bass-baritone
Senta Janis Martin, soprano
Daland Martti Talvelabass
Erik René Kollo, tenor
The Steersman Werner Krenntenor
Mary Isola Jonesmezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 8, 1976
MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546
VERDI Four Sacred Pieces
Jo Ann Pickens, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
David Ward, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 10, 1976
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

November 12, 1976
RAVEL Le tombeau de Couperin
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
RAVEL La valse
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

May 9, 1977
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

May 11, 1977
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

May 13, 1977
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti was scheduled to conduct four concerts at Carnegie Hall in October and November 1977; however after suffering a fall in Chicago, he was forced to cancel the first two appearances. The October 31 performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was conducted by Chorus Director Margaret Hillis, and the November 1 program (identical to the November 2 concert) was led by Associate Conductor Henry Mazer.

November 2, 1977
ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
STRAVINSKY Jeu de cartes
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Lucia Popp, soprano
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20

November 4, 1977
TIPPETT Symphony No. 4
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

May 8, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

May 9, 1978
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 10, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 12, 1978
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 14 & 15, 1979
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

May 16 & 18, 1979
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov Prelude to Khovanshchina
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1, Op. 10
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)

May 19, 1979
BEETHOVEN Fidelio, Op. 72
Leonore Hildegard Behrens, soprano
Marzelline Sona Ghazarian, soprano
Florestan Peter Hofmann, tenor
Jaquino David Kübler, tenor
Don Pizarro Theo Adam, baritone
Rocco Hans Sotin, bass
Don Fernando Gwynne Howell, bass
Two Prisoners Robert Johnson, tenor and Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

April 28 & 30, 1980
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastorale)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

April 29, 1980
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (Scottish)
WAGNER “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
Leontyne Price, soprano
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Leontyne Price, soprano
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

May 2 & 3, 1980
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 27 & 29, 1981
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

April 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Symphony No.4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

May 1 & 2, 1981
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Faust Kenneth Riegel, tenor (May 1); Peyo Garazzi, tenor (May 2)
Mephistopheles José van Dam, baritone
Brander Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

April 18, 1983
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Wotan Siegmund Nimsgern, bass-baritone
Alberich Hermann Becht, baritone
Fricka Gabriele Schnaut, mezzo-soprano
Loge Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Mime Robert Tear, tenor
Erda Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Fafner Malcolm Smith, bass
Fasolt Gwynne Howell, bass
Freia Mary Jane Johnson, soprano
Donner John Cheek, bass-baritone
Froh Dennis Bailey, tenor
Woglinde Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Wellgunde Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Flosshilde Emily Golden, mezzo-soprano

April 19, 1983
MOZART Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

April 29, 1985
VERDI Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff Guillermo Sarabia, baritone
Ford Wolfgang Brendel, baritone
Fenton Yordi Ramiro, tenor
Dr. Caius Heinz Zednik, tenor
Bardolph Francis Egerton, tenor
Pistol Aage Haugland, bass
Mistress Alice Ford Katia Ricciarelli, soprano
Nannetta Kathleen Battle, soprano
Mistress Quickly Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Mistress Meg Page Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 30, 1985
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9, Op. 70
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Unfinished)

May 1, 1985
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op 56a
LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

May 3, 1985
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

May 4, 1985
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
BERG Concerto for Violin
Salvatore Accardo, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

May 18, 1987
MAHLER Symphony No. 9

May 19, 1987
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

May 20, 1987
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major (Drumroll)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

February 10, 1989
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485
SCHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 65

February 11, 1989
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

April 15 & 18, 1991
TIPPETT Byzantium
Faye Robinson, soprano
MAHLER Symphony No. 5


April 16 & 19, 1991

VERDI Otello
Otello Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Desdemona Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Iago Leo Nucci, baritone
Emilia Elzbieta Ardam, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Roderigo John Keyes, tenor
Montano Alan Opie, baritone
Lodovico Dimitri Kavrakos, bass
A Herald Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master
Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus
Elena Doria, director

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To honor Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus gave a gala concert of the highest order on October 9, 1987.

Governor James R. Thompson opened the concert with welcoming remarks, and after the intermission, Mayor Harold Washington presented Sir Georg with the City of Chicago’s Medal of Merit. The concert program was as follows:

CORIGLIANO Campane di Ravello (world premiere)
Kenneth Jean, conductor

J. STRAUSS Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor

MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Sir Georg Solti, conductor and piano
Murray Perahia, piano

STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Plácido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa perform a scene from Verdi’s Otello (Jim Steere photo)

VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
David Huneryager, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

The commemorative program contained letters and testimonials from numerous public officials, conductors, musicians, and industry professionals, including: Ronald Reagan, James R. Thompson, Harold Washington, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Carlo Maria Giulini, Rafael Kubelík, John Corigliano, Christoph von Dohnányi, Rudolf Serkin, Henry Fogel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christa Ludwig, Birgit Nilsson, Witold Lutosławski, Sir Charles Mackerras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Klaus Tennstedt, David Del Tredici, Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin, Werner Klemperer, José van Dam, Elliott Carter, Karel Husa, Isaac Stern, Morton Gould, Hans Werner Henze, Itzhak Perlman, Anja Silja, Erich Leinsdorf, Josef Suk, Plácido Domingo, Michael Tippett, Kiri Te Kanawa, Murray Perahia, Leontyne Price, András Schiff, Kenneth Jean, Andrzej Panufnik, Dame Janet Baker, Pierre Boulez, Yvonne Minton, Herbert Blomstedt, Mira Zakai, Margaret Hillis, Gunther Herbig, Ray Minshull, Ann Murray, Philip Langridge, Raymond Leppard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, George Rochberg, Gwynne Howell, Ardis Krainik, Michael Morgan, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Henry Mancini, and Barbara Hendricks.

Solti and Perahia as soloists in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos (Jim Steere photo)

The concert was covered widely in the press, in the Chicago Tribune (here, here, and here) and Sun-Times (here and here), as well as Time, Newsweek, the Post-Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among many others.

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Solti and Margaret Hillis show off their 1986 Grammy Awards for Liszt’s Faust Symphony and Orff’s Carmina burana.

Sir Georg Solti won thirty-one Grammy Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences—more than any other recording artist. Twenty-four of those awards were with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In addition, Solti and producer John Culshaw received the first NARAS Trustees’ Award in 1967 for their “efforts, ingenuity, and artistic contributions” in connection with the first complete recording of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Vienna Philharmonic. Sir Georg also received the Academy’s 1995 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alison Krauss and Quincy Jones tie for the number two slot with twenty-seven awards each, and Pierre Boulez—CSO conductor emeritus and former principal guest conductor—is number three, with twenty-six Grammy Awards, including eight with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Following is a complete list of Sir Georg Solti’s Grammy Awards.*

1962
Best Opera Recording (1)
VERDI Aida
Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, Rita Gorr, Jon Vickers, Robert Merrill, Giorgio Tozzi
Rome Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
RCA

1966
Best Opera Recording (2)
WAGNER Die Walküre
Georg Solti, conductor
Birgit Nilsson, Régine Crespin, Christa Ludwig, James King, Hans Hotter, Gottlob Frick
Vienna Philharmonic
London

1972
Album of the Year—Classical (3)
Best Choral Performance—Classical (other than opera) (4)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Georg Solti, conductor
Heather Harper, Lucia Popp, Arleen Augér, Yvonne Minton, Helen Watts, René Kollo, John Shirley-Quirk, Martti Talvela
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Singverein Chorus
Vienna Boys’ Choir
Norbert Balatsch and Helmut Froschauer, chorus masters
David Harvey, producer
London

1972
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (5)
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor
Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
London

1974
Album of the Year—Classical (6)
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (7)
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
David Harvey, producer
London

1974
Best Opera Recording (8)
PUCCINI La bohème
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Montserrat Caballé, Judith Blegen, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Vicente Sardinero, Ruggero Raimondi
London Philharmonic Orchestra
John Alldis Choir
Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir
RCA

1975
Album of the Year—Classical (9)
Beethoven’s Complete Symphonies
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B flat Major, Op. 60
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN Overture to Coriolan, Op. 62
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Pilar Lorengar, Yvonne Minton, Stuart Burrows, Martti Talvela
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Ray Minshull and David Harvey, producers
London

1976
Best Classical Orchestral Performance (10)
STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Ray Minshull, producer
London

1977
Best Choral Performance (other than opera) (11)
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, Janet Baker, Veriano Luchetti, José van Dam
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
RCA

1978
Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) (12)
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Lucia Popp, Yvonne Minton, Mallory Walker, Gwynne Howell
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
London

1979
Best Classical Album (13)
Best Classical Orchestral Recording (14)
Brahms’s Complete Symphonies
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Mallinson, producer
London

1979
Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) (15)
BRAHMS Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, Bernd Weikl
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
London

1980
Best Classical Orchestral Recording (16)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Ray Minshull, producer
London

1981
Best Classical Album (17)
Best Classical Orchestral Recording (18)
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, Mira Zakai
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Mallinson, producer
London

1982
Best Choral Performance (other than opera) (19)
BERLIOZ La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, Kenneth Riegel, José van Dam, Malcolm King
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
London

1983
Best Classical Album (20)
Best Classical Orchestral Recording (21)
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Mallinson, producer
London

1983
Best Opera Recording (22)
MOZART Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, Lucia Popp, Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Allen, Kurt Moll
London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Opera Chorus
Christopher Raeburn, producer
London
This recording actually tied with the soundtrack for Verdi’s La traviata with James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; principal soloists Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil.

1983
Best Choral Performance (other than opera) (23)
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Norma Burrowes, Sylvia Greenberg, Rüdiger Wohlers, James Morris, Siegmund Nimsgern
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
London

1985
Best Opera Recording (24)
SCHOENBERG Moses und Aron
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Franz Mazura, Philip Langridge
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Mallinson, producer
London

1986
Best Classical Orchestral Recording (25)
LISZT A Faust Symphony
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Siegfried Jerusalem
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Michael Haas, producer
London

1987
Best Orchestral Recording (26)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, Reinhild Runkel, Robert Schunk, Hans Sotin
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Michael Haas, producer
London

1988
Best Opera Recording (27)
WAGNER Lohengrin
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, Eva Randová, Plácido Domingo, Siegmund Nimsgern, Hans Sotin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Vienna Philharmonic
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Christopher Raeburn, producer
London

1988
Best Chamber Music Performance (28)
BARTÓK Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
Sir Georg Solti and Murray Perahia, pianos
Evelyn Glennie and David Corkhill, percussion
CBS

1991
Best Performance of a Choral Work (29)
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Felicity Lott, Anne Sofie von Otter, Hans Peter Blochwitz, William Shimell, Gwynne Howell
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
London

1992
Best Opera Recording (30)
STRAUSS Die Frau ohne Schatten
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Hildegard Behrens, Júlia Várady, Sumi Jo, Reinhild Runkel, Plácido Domingo, José van Dam
Vienna Philharmonic
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna Boys’ Choir
Christopher Raeburn, Morten Winding, and Stephen Trainor, producers

1997
Best Opera Recording (31)
WAGNER Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Karita Mattila, Iris Vermillion, Ben Heppner, Herbert Lippert, José van Dam, Alan Opie, René Pape
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Michael Woolcock, producer

*A database of former Grammy Award winners can be found here; category titles have changed over the years. For opera recordings, only principal soloists are listed.

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John Culshaw‘s book Ring Resounding begins with: “In Vienna, on the afternoon of September 24, 1958, Decca began the first commercial recording of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen; seven years later, on the evening of November 19, 1965, every note and every word of Wagner’s huge masterpiece had been recorded. Nothing comparable in scope, cost, or artistic and technical challenge had been attempted in the history of the gramophone.”

Georg Solti led the Vienna Philharmonic and an unbelievable cast of singers in sessions at the Sofiensaal. The recordings, released and remastered numerous times, have never been out of print, and according to a recent issue of BBC Music Magazine, the cycle still ranks as the greatest recording of all time.

The recording of Die Walküre won the 1966 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. And for their unprecedented achievement, Solti and Culshaw received the Recording Academy’s first Grammy Trustees’ Award in 1967 for their “efforts, ingenuity, and artistic contributions” to the art of recording.

The casts:

Das Rheingold
Wotan George London, bass-baritone
Donner Eberhard Wächter, baritone
Froh Waldemar Kmentt, tenor
Loge Set Svanholm, tenor
Alberich Gustav Neidlinger, bass-baritone
Mime Paul Kuen, tenor
Fasolt Walter Kreppel, bass
Fafner Kurt Böhme, bass
Fricka Kirsten Flagstad, soprano
Freia Claire Watson, soprano
Erda Jean Madeira, mezzo-soprano
Woglinde Oda Balsborg, soprano
Wellgunde Hetty Plümacher, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Ira Malaniuk, contralto
Recorded September 24 – October 8, 1958

Die Walküre
Siegmund James King, tenor
Sieglinde Régine Crespin, soprano
Wotan Hans Hotter, bass-baritone
Brünnhilde Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Hunding Gottlob Frick, bass
Fricka Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Gerhilde Vera Schlosser, soprano
Ortlinde Helga Dernesch, mezzo-soprano
Waltraute Brigitte Fassbaender, mezzo-soprano
Schwertleite Helen Watts, contralto
Helmwige Berit Lindholm, soprano
Siegrune Vera Little, contralto
Grimgerde Marilyn Tyler, soprano
Rossweisse Claudia Hellmann, contralto
Recorded October 29 – November 19, 1965

Siegfried
Siegfried Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor
Mime Gerhard Stolze, tenor
Brünnhilde Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Wanderer (Wotan) Hans Hotter, bass-baritone
Alberich Gustav Neidlinger, bass-baritone
Fafner Kurt Böhme, bass
Erda Marga Höffgen, contralto
Waldvogel Joan Sutherland, soprano
Recorded May 8 – November 5, 1962

Götterdämmerung
Brünnhilde Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Siegfried Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor
Waltraute Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Gunther Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Gutrune Claire Watson, soprano
Alberich Gustav Neidlinger, bass-baritone
Hagen Gottlob Frick, bass
First Norn Helen Watts, contralto
Second Norn Grace Hoffman, mezzo-soprano
Third Norn Anita Välkki, soprano
Woglinde Lucia Popp, soprano
Wellgunde Gwyneth Jones, soprano
Flosshilde Maureen Guy, mezzo-soprano
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wilhelm Pitz, chorus master
Recorded May 20 – November 24, 1964

During sessions for Götterdämmerung in the fall of 1964, Humphrey Burton filmed a now classic documentary, The Golden Ring, for the BBC. A few amazing clips from that program are below.



The attached YouTube videos are not the property of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. We just thought they were interesting.

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In recognition for his ten years as music director of the Royal Opera,  Georg Solti was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on March 25, 1972. The news was carried in this article from the Chicago Tribune (courtesy of ProQuest via the Chicago Public Library).

“The last two new productions I conducted during my directorship of the Royal Opera were Eugene Onegin, in February 1971, and Tristan und Isolde, in June, both directed by Peter Hall. At my last performance as music director, Birgit Nilsson took the part of Isolde. After ten years at Covent Garden, I know that it would be an emotional occasion for me and I was worried that I might become overwhelmed. But the night itself was incredibly hot and I needed all my concentration just to get to the end of the opera.

“After the performance, there was a reception in the Crush Bar, attended both by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and by the prime minister, Edward Heath, who made me an honorary Knight of the British Empire. (It had to be honorary, because at that time I was still a German citizen.) . . .

“Despite my marriage to an Englishwoman and my decade-long directorship of the Royal Opera House, every time I landed at London’s Heathrow Airport after a trip abroad I had to go through the foreigners’ immigration queue, while my family joined the queue for British subjects, which was usually shorter. After I had been made an honorary KBE, I applied for British citizenship. . . . Within a short time, in 1972, British nationality was granted to me, and I was able officially to add the title Sir to my name. . . . I have a British wife and two British daughters, and British I shall remain.”

Text excerpted from Memoirs by Sir Georg Solti.

____________________________________________________

Georg Solti made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut on October 19, 1956 (during the company’s third season), conducting Strauss’s Salome with Inge Borkh in the title role. Claudia Cassidy’s complete Chicago Tribune review (courtesy of ProQuest via the Chicago Public Library) is here.

That season he also led Wagner’s Die Walküre with Borkh, Birgit Nilsson, and Paul Schöffler (and a young Ardis Krainik as Rossweisse); Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Eleanor Steber, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, and Léopold Simoneau; and Verdi’s La forza del destino with Renata Tebaldi, Giulietta Simionato, and Richard Tucker. Ruth Page provided choreography for the Mozart and Verdi.

Solti also shared the podium with Emerson Buckley for a gala concert on November 10 with a star-studded cast that included Tebaldi, Simionato, Tucker, Ettore Bastianini, and Miraslav Čangalović.

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Theodore Thomas

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