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Ralph Johnson and Lois Schaefer onstage with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in December 1953

If you’ve tuned into CSOtv recently, you may have noticed that in the December 1953 concert, Lois Schaefer is sitting in the first-chair position!

Hired by fifth music director Rafael Kubelík in 1951, Schaefer served the Orchestra as assistant principal flute until 1954. She was the third woman rostered in the flute section, following Caroline Solfronk Vacha (1943-1946) and Peggy Hardin (1945-1951).

Born in Yakima, Washington, on March 10, 1924, Schaefer attended the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as a teenager, later studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Georges Laurent (principal flute of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Frank Horsfall, and Sebastian Caratelli. She completed her bachelor’s of music in flute performance in 1946 and an artist diploma the following year.

Lois Schaefer in the 1960s (image courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

During her time in Chicago, Schaefer also taught at Chicago Musical College. By 1956, she returned east and was hired as principal flute of the New York City Opera, where she would remain for ten seasons. During this time, she also performed and recorded with the NBC Opera Theatre Orchestra, the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

In 1965, Schaefer was hired by then–music director Erich Leinsdorf to the position of flute and principal piccolo for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, her “dream job.” During her twenty-five-year tenure, she also served as principal piccolo for the Boston Pops Orchestra. “In more than 2,000 Boston Pops performances of [John Philip Sousa‘s] ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,’ a moment always arrived when Lois Schaefer was the star of the show,” wrote Bryan Marquard in the Boston Globe. “Though she was a master of the memorable piccolo solo that is the highlight of the song, she didn’t take her eyes off the musical score—not in her first concert, not in her 2,000th. She was determined to never make a mistake on her notoriously difficult instrument, which sometimes waits silently through portions of concerts, only to suddenly be highlighted for all ears to hear.”

Schaefer served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music from 1965 until 1992. She also was a board member of the National Flute Association, receiving their second-ever lifetime achievement award in 1993.

According to her sister Winifred Mayes, a cellist with the BSO from 1954 until 1964, Schaefer was “very, very happy in Boston. . . . She loved the orchestra and the people in it. She always felt very secure and warm towards them, and they towards her. I think it was perfect for her.”

Lois Schaefer in the late 1980s (photo courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

In her final season in Boston, Schaefer was soloist in Daniel Pinkham‘s Concerto Piccolo, written especially for her. Upon her retirement in 1990, Globe music critic Richard Dyer wrote, “For her twenty-five years as solo piccolo, Lois Schaefer has been the highest, brightest voice in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. . . . To hear her in a Rossini overture is like watching the sunlight dance on rippling water. She can also break your heart with a perfectly placed high pianissimo in a Mahler or Shostakovich slow movement.”

Lois Schaefer died at the home she shared with her sister in Sequim, Washington, on January 31, 2020, at the age of ninety-five. She was survived by her sister Winifred Mayes until her passing, also in Sequim, on December 15, 2020, at the age of one hundred and one.

Lois Schaefer performs as first-chair flute in a December 9, 1953, Hour of Music telecast, currently available on CSOtv. Guest conductor and former music director Désiré Defauw leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Grétry’s Three Dances from Cephalus and Procris, a suite from Fauré’s Pelleas and Melisande, and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony.

Special thanks to Bridget Carr and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives.

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the remarkable Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa!

As a last-minute replacement for Georges Prêtre in July 1963, Ozawa was called upon to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in two concerts at the Ravinia Festival. The twenty-seven-year-old conductor made his debut on July 16 in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture no. 3, Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Byron Janis, and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony. Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune reported that Ozawa was “instantly in command when in possession of a baton and a musical idea. His conducting technique reminds you of his teacher, Herbert von Karajan, in that it lays the score in the lap of the Orchestra with transparency of gesture and human communication, then commands acceptance.”

Only a month later it was announced that Ozawa would become the Ravinia Festival’s first music director and resident conductor beginning with the 1964 season, replacing Walter Hendl, who had served as artistic director since 1959. For his first concert as music director on June 16, 1964, Ozawa led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Barber’s Piano Concerto with John Browning, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Reverse jacket of Angel Records recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, made at Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969

Reverse jacket of Angel Records recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, made at Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969

He served as music director of the Ravinia Festival through the 1968 season and as principal conductor for the 1969 season, returning regularly as a guest conductor. Ozawa most recently appeared there on July 14, 1985, leading Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major and Takemitsu’s riverrun with Peter Serkin, along with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony.

Between 1965 and 1970—at both Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple— Ozawa and the Orchestra recorded a number of works for Angel and RCA, including Bartók’s First and Third piano concertos and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with Peter Serkin, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade with concertmaster Victor Aitay, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

A complete list of his performances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below:

July 16, 1963, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72a
GRIEG Concerto for Piano in A Minor, Op. 16
Byron Janis, piano
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

June 16, 1964

July 18, 1963, Ravinia Festival
ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christian Ferras, violin
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
TAKEMITSU Requiem for String Orchestra (U.S. premiere)
PROKOFIEV Selections from Romeo and Juliet

June 16, 1964, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BARBER Piano Concerto, Op. 38
John Browning, piano
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

June 18, 1964, Ravinia Festival
Barbara Garrison, soprano
Harvard Glee Club
Radcliffe Choral Society
Elliot Forbes, director
FAURÉ Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48
Barbara Garrison, soprano
Howard Nelson, baritone
Harvard Glee Club
Radcliffe Choral Society
Elliot Forbes, director

June 30, 1964, Ravinia Festival
HINDEMITH Symphony, Mathis der Maler
SIBELIUS Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Ruggiero Ricci, violin
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

Ozawa and Igor Stravinsky in Orchestra Hall on July 20, 1964, while the composer was in town to lead recording sessions of his Orpheus with the CSO (Arthur Siegel photo)

July 7, 1964, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Neal O’Doan, piano
GLUCK Divinités du Styx from Alceste
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
THOMAS Elle est la pres de lui from Mignon
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
ROSSINI Non più mesta from La cenerentola
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Michael Rogers, piano

July 21, 1964, Ravinia Festival
BIZET Symphony No. 1 in C Major
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C Major, K. 314
Ray Still, oboe
TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32

July 25, 1964, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMAN American Festival Overture
IVES Central Park in the Dark
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
FRANCK Symphony in D Minor

July 28, 1964, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Overture to Euryanthe, Op. 81
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Leon Fleisher and Ozawa backstage on August 1, 1964 (Arthur Siegel photo)

August 1, 1964, Ravinia Festival,
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Leon Fleisher, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

June 15, 1965, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
MOZART Serenade No. 10 for Winds in B-flat Major, K. 361
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

June 17, 1965, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Jubel Overture, Op. 59
RESPIGHI Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 1
DONIZETTI Una furtiva lagrima from L’elisir d’amore
Richard Tucker, tenor
VERDI Forse la soglia attinse from Un ballo in maschera
Richard Tucker, tenor
BIZET L’arlesienne Suite No. 2
BIZET La fleur que tu m’avais jetèe from Carmen
Richard Tucker, tenor
MASCAGNI Mamma, quel vino from Cavalleria rusticana
Richard Tucker, tenor

June 19, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HARRIS When Johnny Comes Marching Home
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
André Watts, piano
NIELSEN Symphony No. 5, Op. 50

June 20, 1965, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
BLACHER Concertante Musik, Op. 10
DEBUSSY First Rhapsody
Clark Brody, clarinet
KABELEVSKY The Comedians, Op. 26
HINDEMITH Concerto for Winds, Harp, and Orchestra
RAMSIER Divertimento on a Theme of Couperin
Gary Karr, bass

June 22, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Berl Senofsky, violin
BERLIOZ Funereal and Triumphal Symphony, Op. 15
BERLIOZ Selections from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24

June 27, 1965, Ravinia Festival
ROUSSEL Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 42
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3
Peter Serkin, piano
ELLIOT Bassoon Concerto (world premiere)
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto was recorded on June 28, 1965, in Orchestra Hall. For RCA, Max Wilcox was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

June 29, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL Concerto grosso in B Minor, Op. 6, No. 12
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Eugene Istomin, piano
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Isaac Stern, violin

July 1, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Divertimento in D Major, K. 136
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Isaac Stern, violin
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Leonard Rose, cello

July 3, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Eugene Istomin, piano
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Isaac Stern, violin
Leonard Rose, cello
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
Isaac Stern, violin
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

July 4, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HOVHANESS Fantasy on Japanese Wood Prints, Op. 211 (world premiere)
Yoichi Hiraoka, xylophone
IVES The Fourth of July
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
GOTTLIEB Pieces of Seven Overture
BERNSTEIN Suite from Fancy Free

July 11, 1965, Ravinia Festival
GINASTERA Estancia Suite, Op. 8a
DEBUSSY/Caplet Children’s Corner
RIVIER Concerto brève
Kyoko Ozawa, piano
RIEGGER Dance Rhythms, Op. 58
RIEGGER Study in Sonority, Op. 7

July 15, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major, K. 364
Victor Aitay, violin
Milton Preves, viola
STRAUSS Four Songs (Morgen, Waldseligkeit, Muttertändelei, and Zueignung)
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
HINDEMITH Konzertmusik for String Orchestra and Brass, Op. 50
TCHAIKOVSKY Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano

July 18, 1965, Ravinia Festival
IBERT Divertissement
ORFF Carmina burana
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Pierre Duval, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Alfred H. Reichel, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

July 20, 1965, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Gabriel Chodos, piano
DVOŘÁK First movement (Allegro) from Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Daniel Domb, cello
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
John C. Owings, piano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Adrian Ruiz, piano

For the U.S. premiere of Jean Martinon’s Cello Concerto on July 31, 1965, former principal cello János Starker returned as soloist at the Ravinia Festival. Shown here during a rehearsal are the composer, soloist, and conductor.

July 31, 1965, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND An Outdoor Overture
MARTINON Cello Concerto, Op. 52 (U.S. premiere)
János Starker, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4, F Minor, Op. 36

March 26, 1966, Orchestra Hall
March 28, 1966, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
WEBER Konzertstück for Piano in F Minor, Op. 79
Yuri Boukoff, piano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Yuri Boukoff, piano
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

March 31, April 1, and 2, 1966, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425 (Linz) 
IVES Symphony No. 4
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Isaac Stern, violin

June 28, 1966, Ravinia Festival
BUSONI Lustspiel Overture, Op. 38
TAKEMITSU Requiem for String Orchestra
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

June 30, 1966, Ravinia Festival
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
MUSSORGSKY Selections from Boris Godunov
George London, bass-baritone
BORODIN Symphony No. 2 in B Minor

July 7, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HAYDN Symphony No. 86 in D Major
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Peter Serkin, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

July 10, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TOCH Pinocchio, A Merry Overture
IBERT Symphonic Suite, Impressions of Paris
IVES/Schuman Variations on America
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Peter Serkin, piano
Bartók’s First Piano Concerto was recorded on July 11, 1966, in Orchestra Hall. For RCA, Max Wilcox was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

July 24, 1966, Ravinia Festival
BERG Violin Concerto
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
MOREL L’etoile noire
THOMSON Louisiana Story, Suite for Orchestra

July 26, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1
Byron Janis, piano
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Byron Janis, piano

July 28, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL/Harty Suite from Music for the Royal Fireworks
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Byron Janis, piano
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Byron Janis, piano

July 31, 1966, Ravinia Festival
SHULMAN Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra
Milton Preves, viola
BERIO Serenata I for Flute and Fourteen Instruments
Donald Peck, flute
Yuji Takahashi, piano
VARÈSE Hyperprism

August 11, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HOMMANN Overture for Orchestra
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Mary Simmons, mezzo-soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Van Cliburn, piano

August 13, 1966, Ravinia Festival
BACH/Schoenberg Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 552 (Saint Anne)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-fat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Van Cliburn, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

June 27, 1967, Ravinia Festival
GLUCK Overture to Iphigénie en Aulide
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Byron Janis, piano
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
GINASTERA Estancia Suite, Op. 8a

June 29, 1967, Ravinia Festival
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
GERSHWIN/Bennett Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture
GERSHWIN Cuban Overture
GERSHWIN Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra
Byron Janis, piano

July 1, 1967, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Overture to I vespri siciliani
MENOTTI The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi
Julie Idione, soprano
Simon Estes, bass
All-City Chicago High School Chorus
Emile Serposs, director
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Lili Kraus, piano
RESPIGHI Pines of Rome

July 9, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051
BLOCH Concerto grosso No. 1
Mary Sauer, piano
SYMONDS Concerto grosso for Jazz Quintet and Orchestra
Kenny Soderblom Jazz Quintet
Kenny Soderblom, alto saxophone
John Avant, trombone
Bobby Roberts, guitar
Harold Jones, drums
Ernest Outlaw, bass
YASHIRO Cello Concerto
Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, cello

July 13, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BRITTEN The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Peter Serkin, piano
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition
Britten’s Young Person’s Guide and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition were recorded in Medinah Temple on July 18, 1967. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

July 16, 1967, Ravinia Festival
MERCURE Triptyque for Orchestra
JOACHIM Contrasts for Orchestra (world premiere)
SCHULLER Recitative and Rondo (world premiere)
Victor Aitay, violin
MOZART Horn Concerto in E-flat Major, K. 495
Dale Clevenger, horn
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Peter Serkin, piano
Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto was recorded in Medinah Temple on July 17, 1967. For RCA Max Wilcox was the producer and Richard Gardner was the recording engineer.

July 30, 1967, Ravinia Festival
RUSSO Symphony No. 2 in C, Op. 32 (Titans)
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 31
Young Uck Kim, violin
FOSS Baroque Variations in Three Movements (world premiere)
SCHUMAN Symphony No. 3

August 8, 1967, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Overture to La forza del destino
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor
Gabriel Chodos, piano
SAINT-SAЁNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor
Patricia Hanson, piano

August 10, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BERNSTEIN Serenade after Plato’s Symposium
James Oliver Buswell IV, violin
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety)
Leonard Pennario, piano

Ozawa and the CSO recording Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in Orchestra Hal on July 1, 1968 (Terry’s photo)

August 12, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish)
Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano
Vera Zorina, speaker
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Ronald B. Schweitzer, assistant director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

August 15, 1967, Civic Center Plaza (now Richard J. Daley Center)
Dedication of The Chicago Picasso
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BERNSTEIN Selections from Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

April 29, 1968, Orchestra Hall
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BRAHMS Excerpt from Fourth movement (Adagio) from Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
MASCAGNI Voi lo sapete from Cavalleria rusticana
Grace Bumbry, soprano
PONCHIELLI Suicidio! from La gioconda
Grace Bumbry, soprano

June 27, 1968, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture
COPLAND Preamble for a Solemn Occasion
Marian Anderson, speaker
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

June 29, 1968, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 C Minor, Op. 37
Byron Janis, piano
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 1, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

June 30, 1968, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Overture to Oberon
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 26
Susan Starr, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite from Swan Lake
BOCK Selections from Fiddler on the Roof
GARLAND In the Mood

July 2, 1968, Ravinia Festival
TURINA Rapsodia sinfonica
Joaquín Achúcarro, piano
FALLA Nights In The Gardens of Spain
Joaquín Achúcarro, piano
FALLA Three Dances from The Three-Cornered Hat
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34

July 6, 1968, Ravinia Festival
KRENEK Perspectives (world premiere)
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Leon Fleisher, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 8, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

July 7, 1968, Ravinia Festival
J. C. BACH Symphony No. 4 in D Major
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33
Lawrence Foster, cello
RUSSO Three Pieces for Blues Band and Orchestra (world premiere)
Stravinsky’s Fireworks was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 8, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

August 3, 1968, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (Unfinished)
PUCCINI Sì, mi chiamano Mimì from La bohème
Anna Moffo, soprano
VERDI Scene from La traviata
Anna Moffo, soprano
DONIZETTI Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor
Anna Moffo, soprano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Schubert’s Eighth Symphony were recorded in Orchestra Hall on August 9, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

August 4, 1968, Ravinia Festival
STOUT Symphony No. 2 (world premiere)
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto in E-flat Major, Op. 107
Frank Miller, cello
GINASTERA Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 28
Jerome Lowenthal, piano

August 6, 1968, Ravinia Festival
TOYAMA Rhapsody for Orchestra
TAKEMITSU November Steps
Kinshi Tsuruta, kinshi, biwa and voice
Katsuya Yokoyama, shakuhachi
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Young Uck Kim, violin

Seiji and Vera Ozawa at a Ravinia Festival picnic on August 4, 1968 (Nickerson Photo Company photo)

August 8, 1968, Ravinia Festival
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
BRITTEN Scottish Ballad, Op. 26
Arthur Austin Whittemore, piano
Jack Lowe, piano
POULENC Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor
Arthur Austin Whittemore, piano
Jack Lowe, piano
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Mary Michel, speaker
Teresa Orantes, soprano
Diana Haskell, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bare Mountain was recorded in Orchestra Hall on August 9, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

August 10, 1968 (11:00 a.m.), Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Prologue from West Side Story
DEBUSSY Clair de lune from Suite bergamasque
TOYAMA Rhapsody for Orchestra
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
VERDI Overture to I vespri siciliani

August 10, 1968 (8:30 p.m.), Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
John Browning, piano
STRAVINSKY Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra
John Browning, piano
HINDEMITH Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber

June 26, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto in D Major (arranged from the Violin Concerto, Op. 61)
Peter Serkin, piano
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta (not performed in concert) were recorded in Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones was the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

June 28, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Lois Marshall, soprano
Nicholas di Virgilio, tenor
Ezio Flagello, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 29, 1969, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 11
Dale Clevenger, horn
TAKEMITSU Asterism for Piano and Orchestra
Yuji Takahashi, piano
RIMSKY-KORSAKOFF Sheherazade, Op. 35
Victor Aitay, violin
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor (not performed in concert) were recorded in Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones was the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

July 3, 1969, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Overture to Così fan tutte, K. 588
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat Major, K. 456
Peter Serkin, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

July 5, 1969, Ravinia Festival
HAYDN Symphony No. 75 in D Major
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Maurizio Pollini, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams)

July 6, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Victor Aitay, violin
Donald Peck, flute
De Vere Moore, oboe
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Mary Sauer, harpsichord
TIRCUIT Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra
Stomu Yamash’ta, percussion
SHOSTAKOVICH Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra in C Minor, Op. 35
Sheldon Shkolnik, piano
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
BERNSTEIN Chichester Psalms
Howard Pfeifer, boy soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 25, 1970, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Eileen Farrell, soprano
JANÁČEK Sinfonietta
WAGNER A Faust Overture
WAGNER Brünnhilde’s Immolation from Götterdämmerung
Eileen Farrell, soprano
Janáček’s Sinfonietta was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 26, 1970. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

June 27, 1970, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

June 28, 1970, Ravinia Festival
GABRIELI Sonata pian’ e forte
LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra
SCHICKELE The Fantastic Garden
DENNIS Pennsylvania Station
Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 29, 1970. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

Donald Peck and Edward Druzinsky rehearse with Ozawa and the Orchestra on July 8, 1971 (Donald Peck collection)

July 8, 1971, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K. 299
Donald Peck, flute
Edward Druzinsky, harp
HUMMEL Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
GABRIELI Canzon duodecimi toni
TAKEMITSU Cassiopeia for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra (world premiere)
Stomu Yamash’ta, percussion

July 10, 1971, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19

February 1, 2, and 3, 1973, Orchestra Hall
February 5, 1973, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
HAYDN Symphony No. 60 in C Major (Il distratto)
LIGETI Melodien
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

February 8, 9, and 10, 1973, Orchestra Hall
BOONE First Landscape
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Gina Bachauer, piano

July 14, 1985, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Rondo in D Major, K. 382
Peter Serkin, piano
Peter Serkin, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

On tour with visiting orchestras, Ozawa also appeared in Orchestra Hall under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, as follows:

April 8 1975, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
James Levine, piano
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe
Ann Arbor Festival Chorus
Donald Bryant, director
Boston Symphony Orchestra

March 6, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Boston Symphony Orchestra

April 24, 1991, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No 8 in F Major, Op. 93
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Boston Symphony Orchestra

February 9, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Boston Symphony Orchestra

January 10, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major
Saito Kinen Orchestra

William and Shirlejean Babcock (Vincent Cichowicz collection)

The Chicago Symphony notes with the sorrow the passing of William Babcock—a former member of the Orchestra’s trumpet section from 1951 until 1958—on June 10, 2019, in Townshend, Vermont. He was 94.

Born in New London, Connecticut on May 7, 1925, Babcock began playing the piano at the age of four and trumpet at seven. He won many high school competitions as a trumpet player, was first solo cornet in the All New England High School Band for three years, and graduated from Bulkeley School for Boys in 1943.

After graduation, Babcock enlisted in the US Air Force and was called into duty on June 14, 1943, serving for nearly three years, active in combat flying in the European theatre.

Benefiting from the G.I. Bill, he enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music in January 1946. While in line for admittance, Babcock met not only his future colleague Adolph “Bud” Herseth but also his future wife Shirlejean Wallace (whom he would marry on March 29, 1947). During his three years at the conservatory, he studied with Boston Symphony Orchestra trumpets Roger Voisin and Marcel LaFosse. Babcock performed at Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center (under the guidance of BSO principal trumpet Georges Mager), with the New England Opera Theater and at Boston’s Shubert Theatre, and also as a substitute with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, Leonard Bernstein, and Pierre Monteux.

William Babcock (Vincent Cichowicz collection)

Rafael Kubelík, during his first season as music director, hired Babcock into the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s trumpet section, beginning with the 1951 Ravinia Festival season. He was a member of the section until 1958, when he became principal trumpet of Chicago’s NBC Orchestra, where he remained until 1965. Babcock continued to work as a freelance musician and private trumpet teacher into his retirement, and he and his wife were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

William Babcock’s beloved wife Shirlejean—after sixty-seven years of marriage—preceded him in death in 2014. He is survived by his children Douglas, Richard, Barbara LaMontagne (Henry), Laura Casoli (Darrel), and granddaughter Melissa. Memorial gifts may be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and services have been held.

Enlist: On Which Side of the Window are
Laura Brey, U.S., 1917

The recruitment poster at right, from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections, shows a civilian man looking out a window as soldiers march to service.


Boston Globe, March 26, 1918

For a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance in Providence on October 30, 1917, several Rhode Island ladies’ clubs had contacted orchestra manager Charles Ellis, requesting the addition of The Star-Spangled Banner to the concert. After consulting with BSO founder Henry Higginson, Ellis decided not to change the program. Unaware of the request, music director Karl Muck—born in Germany but naturalized as a Swiss citizen—after the concert was accused in the press of working for the German cause and eventually arrested on March 25, 1918. He also was imprisoned at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia until August 1919, when he and his wife were deported. The article is here.

Ernst and Lina Kunwald, December 8, 1917 (National Archives and Records Administration)

Music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since 1912, Ernst Kunwald continued to express pride in his Austrian heritage during the war. He led The Star-Spangled Banner before one concert but only after expressing to the orchestra and the mostly German audience that his sympathies were with his homeland. Kunwald was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 8, 1917, and released the following day, whereupon he resigned his post as conductor. One month later, he was interned under the Alien Enemies Act at Fort Oglethorpe and was deported soon thereafter.

Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock

At the invitation of founder and first music director Theodore Thomas, Frederick Stock came to the U.S. in 1895 to join the Orchestra as assistant principal viola. He applied for his first U.S. citizenship papers four days after his arrival, but inadvertently neglected to complete the process. He was promoted to assistant conductor in 1899, and shortly after Thomas’s unexpected death on January 4, 1905, the board of trustees soon elected Frederick Stock as the Orchestra’s second music director on April 11.

Columbia Graphophone Company 1917 recording

Stock’s arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner

In 1916, on the eve of U.S. involvement in the war, President Woodrow Wilson ordered The Star-Spangled Banner to be played at military and other notable events. Stock made his own orchestration of the Banner along with America (My Country ’Tis of Thee) and recorded both with the Orchestra for the Columbia Graphophone Company on May 28, 1917.

Stock’s fingerprints (FBI Case Files, National Archives)

When the trustees encouraged Stock to finalize his citizenship—to deflect concerns over his German heritage—he discovered that his 1895 application was invalid and needed to start the process a second time. But first, Stock had to submit a Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy, complete with fingerprints, on February 7, 1918.

With his citizenship status incomplete and the country at war, on August 17, 1918, Frederick Stock made the decision to resign, asserting his loyalty to the U.S. “I do not hesitate to classify myself as American, because all who know me are aware that at heart, in thought and in spirit, as well as in action and deed, I am American, just as willing as any patriot to give my last drop of blood and my last penny for the land of my adoption and of my affections.” Stock’s handwritten letter and a transcript are here.

The trustees of the Orchestral Association reluctantly accepted Stock’s resignation on October 1, 1918. Acknowledging that he had changed the language at rehearsals to English in 1914 and had programmed countless works by American composers, the board expressed its hope that the separation would be temporary, and it would soon be their “joy to welcome to our conductor’s stand Citizen Stock.” The transcript of the board meeting minutes is here.

Eric DeLamarter

Chicago composer Eric DeLamarter, was hired as assistant conductor and led the first concerts of the 1918-19 season. DeLamarter also served as organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church from 1914 and as the first conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival beginning in 1935.

Chicago Daily News, February 20, 1919

At the trustees’ meeting on February 14, 1919, Orchestra manager Frederick Wessels reported that Stock “had complied with all the requirements of the law,” having filed the necessary papers on February 7; ninety days later, his citizenship would be complete. The executive committee met five days later and unanimously resolved that Stock should resume his music directorship the following week.

February 28, 1919

On February 28, 1919, “as Mr. Stock came through the door . . . cheers sounded in the upper tiers, and the audience rose to utter its gladness that he was back at the post.” That evening’s program began with The Star-Spangled Banner and concluded with the world premiere of Stock’s new March and Hymn to Democracy, “conceived,” according to the composer, “in the spirit of our day, a spirit, indeed, of world-wide turbulence and strife, but also a spirit imbued with unending hope and implicit faith in the ultimate regeneration of humanity.”

Linda Wolfe at the Frederick Stock School

Linda Wolfe, Stock’s great-granddaughter, added: “Most of Frederick Stock’s adult life had been with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—ten years as a violist and thirteen as music director—when he was classified as an alien enemy. He was forced to temporarily step down from the podium, and I cannot imagine his anguish and heartache. However, Stock’s devotion to the ensemble and the city did not waver during this dark time, as he spent his exile developing plans for the Civic Orchestra, the series of children’s concerts, and the youth auditions, all endeavors that continue to thrive today.”

Wolfe is pictured here at the Frederick Stock School in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood. Opened in 1955, Stock School is a Chicago Public School early childhood center for students between the ages of three and five, providing a model program for children with and without disabilities.


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

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.

Title page for the first printed edition of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Guest conductor George Szell led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on December 2 and 3, 1948, almost exactly four years following the work’s premiere on December 1, 1944, with Serge Koussevitzky leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the Chicago Daily News, Clarence Joseph Bulliet called the work, “violent and awesome in its contrasts, sometimes as stormy as the most sensational of modern music. Then it calmed down to rival in delicacy the classicism of Haydn and Beethoven between which it was programmed at Orchestra Hall Thursday night.” (Haydn’s Oxford Symphony opened the concert, followed by the Bartók and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, that featured the debut of Seymour Lipkin.) Felix Borowski, writing for the Chicago Sun, added, that Bartók’s Concerto was, “of more than ordinary worth . . . Modern, indeed it is, but there are ideas—often very beautiful ideas—in the course of it. The orchestration is rich and colorful, frequently with new and beguiling textures.”

Early in his tenure as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner first led the Orchestra in his friend and countryman’s work on October 13 and 15, 1955. “This wonderful score, a network of nerves spun and controlled by the most brilliant of nervous energies, was played as only great orchestras can play,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It is a superb work and a Reiner triumph.”

The following week, Reiner and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc on October 22; for RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton the recording engineer. In February 2016, Gramophone listed this release as one of the “finest recordings of Bartók’s music,” noting the “sheer fervour of Reiner’s direction . . . taut and agile . . . [his] precision and control is immediately apparent.”

The Orchestra has since recorded the work on five additional occasions, as follows:

During his year as principal conductor of the Ravinia Festival, Seiji Ozawa recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on June 30 and July 1, 1969, for AngelPeter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer. Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti conducted the Concerto for London on January 19 and 20, 1981, in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson was the producer and James Lock the balance engineer.

James Levine, Ravinia’s second music director, led sessions in Orchestra Hall on June 28, 1989, for Deutsche Grammophon. Steven Paul was executive producer, Christopher Alder the recording producer, and Gregor Zielinsky was balance engineer. During the 1990 tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Austria, Solti conducted the Orchestra in an all-Bartók program, video recorded at the Budapest Convention Centre on November 28, 1990, for London. Humphrey Burton directed the production, and Katya Krausova was producer, Eric Abraham the executive producer, and Michael Haas the audio producer.

Most recently, Pierre Boulez recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on November 30, 1992, for Deutsche Grammophon. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler the recording producer, Rainer Maillard the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Reinhild Schmidt were recording engineers. The release won 1994 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.

Guest conductor Rafael Payare makes his subscription concert debut leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on January 18 and 20, 2018.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family notes with sorrow the passing of Rudolph “Rudy” Nashan, a member of the trumpet section from 1950 until 1963. He died on August 9, 2017, at the age of 94.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in the fall of 1950: left to right, Renold Schilke, Gerald Huffman, Rudolph Nashan, and Adolph Herseth

Nashan was born in Münster, Germany on July 25, 1923, and the family soon immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago. He began playing the trumpet in elementary school and continued lessons while attending Lane Tech. Nashan was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1941 until 1943, and following the outbreak of World War II, in 1942 he joined the U.S. Army, serving in a military band in Skokie, Illinois. During his service, he worked not only as a trumpeter but also as a translator for incoming German war prisoners who had been transported to the United States as farm laborers from South Africa.

After the war, Nashan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and studied with Georges C. Mager, then principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after receiving his performer’s certificate, new music director Rafael Kubelík invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as second trumpet, where he served for ten years, moving to fourth trumpet in 1960.

As a tireless advocate for the rights of musicians, in 1962 Nashan was one of the founding members of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. He resigned his post with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1963 when he was elected vice president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, where he was instrumental in completing the merger of the segregated Chicago locals.

Nashan later worked as an artist representative for the National Endowment for the Arts for the New England area and also served as principal trumpet and personnel manager of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Upon his retirement, he and his wife Catherine moved to Belfast, Maine, where he taught several young trumpeters privately and at local colleges. Nashan was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

His first wife Catherine preceded him in death. Nashan is survived by his second wife Patricia and two children from his first marriage, Rebecca Devereaux and Georges Nashan. Service details are pending.

In 2012, ICSOM held its fiftieth anniversary meeting in Chicago and to commemorate the event, a documentary was produced. Nashan was one of several Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians prominently featured in the film, offering first-hand accounts of working conditions in orchestras in the early years.

Chicago Daily News, November 19, 1931

Chicago audiences were first introduced to music from Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast by the Chicago Orchestra’s founder and first music director Theodore Thomas: Vltava in January 1894, Šárka in October 1895, and Vyšehrad in April 1896. Thomas and his successor Frederick Stock regularly included these three symphonic poems on their concerts, but it wasn’t until the Orchestra’s forty-first season that Stock programmed the complete cycle, for a special concert on November 18, 1931, honoring Chicago’s rich Czech heritage.

On November 15, Edward Moore, writing for the Chicago Tribune, happily reported that he was able to hear the work a few days before the performance. The headline read, “Records give preview of new musical event: Critic hears Smetana’s music, Má vlast, on phonographic disks.” Moore wrote that courtesy of Dr. J.E.S. Vojan, president of the Bohemian Arts Club of Chicago (which would sponsor the concert), “through the medium of disk and needle, I have been enabled to hear it in advance of the concert audience.”

Title page of the score to Šárka used by Thomas and Stock

Title page of the score to Vyšehrad used by Thomas and Stock

(The recording most likely was the one made by the Czech Philharmonic in 1929, under the baton of its chief conductor Václav Talich, who later taught Karel Ančerl and Charles Mackerras. This not only was the ensemble’s first commercial recording but also the first complete recording of Smetana’s cycle of tone poems. It was released on ten, twelve-inch 78 rpm discs—just under eighty minutes of music—by His Master’s Voice.)

“Through a course of years, Mr. Stock [along with Thomas before him] and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have made Vltava or the Moldau popular with Chicago audiences,” Moore continued. “They have played Vyšehrad a number of times, and Šárka less frequently. The other three are to come as a first performance next Wednesday.”

Following the November 18 concert, Eugene Stinson in the Daily News wrote, “Through these six works there sweeps the refreshing fragrance of a national spirit. Smetana was not merely the father of a national Bohemian music and the teacher of Dvořák. He was one of the first composers in any land to see the possibilities of such a music, founded on characteristic themes and breathing out the soul of a race.”

Title page of the score to Blaník used by Stock

Title page of the score to Tábor used by Stock

“History, legend, national songs, tonal description of nature, and a poetic imagination to transfigure them all, are in it,” added Moore in his review for the Tribune. “When one considers that Smetana wrote it under the most tragic infliction that may visit a musician, total deafness, it becomes not only one of the masterpieces of the world but the act of one of the world’s great heroes.”

“There is nothing to write but gratitude to the Chicago Bohemians and to Mr. Stock, whose combined efforts acquainted us with this lovely work,” concluded Herman Devries in the American. “What a lesson to the modern school of would-be musical alchemists with their abracadabra of gibberish and geometry, of dissonance and self-conscious abstruseness. Here is pure inspiration. Here is music that wells, untrammeled, from a source of inexhaustible creative talent. Here is melody, melody so simple, so tender, so touching; melody so poetic, so passionate, so spontaneous that one listens happily, without the need of indulgence, excuse, or partiality. But beneath all this simplicity, one hears and senses the mastermind of the great orchestral technician.”

Otto, Edward, and Henri Hyna

Devries also noted that several musicians in the Orchestra that evening were of Bohemian descent, including John Weicher (a member of the violin section from 1923 until 1969; he became concertmaster in 1937), Vaclav Jiskra (principal bass, 1908–1949), Rudolph Fiala (viola, 1922–1952), Joseph Houdek (bass, 1914–1944), and the Hyna brothers: Otto, Edward, and Henri, pictured at right. Natives of Bohemia, the Hyna brothers all served as members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s string section. Otto (1886–1951) was in the bass section from 1930 until 1950, Edward (1897–1958) served as a violinist from 1929 until 1943, and Henri (1901–1955) also was a violinist from 1928 until 1932.

The Orchestra next performed the complete cycle twenty years later on October 23 and 24, 1952, under the baton of fifth music director—and Czech native—Rafael Kubelík. On December 4 and 5 of that year, the work was recorded in Orchestra Hall by Mercury Records. Returning as a guest conductor, Kubelík led performances of the six symphonic poems on January 23 and 24, 1969, and again on October 27, 28, and 29, 1983.

At the Ravinia Festival, James Levine most recently led the work on June 27, 1987. Jakub Hrůša’s upcoming performances will mark the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s sixth traversal of Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems.


Boston Symphony Orchestra program from April 24 and 25, 1896

A footnote: Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra almost were able to claim the U.S. premiere performance of Vyšehrad, the first symphonic poem of Smetana’s Má vlast. However, Emil Paur and the Boston Symphony Orchestra literally were minutes ahead. Both orchestras had 2:30 p.m. matinees on Friday, April 24, 1896, but Boston’s concert was one hour earlier (railway time zones had been standardized in 1883). Also, Vyšehrad was the first work on Paur’s program, while Thomas had programmed the work to follow Tchaikovsky’s Marche slave and Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and selections from The Damnation of Faust.

Boston also claimed the U.S. premiere of Šárka, performing it on January 25, 1895. Thomas led the first Chicago performance exactly nine months later on October 25.

Portions of this article accompany the program notes for the May 18, 19, and 20, 2017, performances. Special thanks to Bridget Carr, archivist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Program page image courtesy of HENRY, the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives’s online performance history search engine.

Silvia Kargl, archivist for the Vienna Philharmonic, gives a tour of the artifacts to Jamie Bernstein

Silvia Kargl, archivist for the Vienna Philharmonic, gives a tour of the artifacts to Jamie Bernstein (Ardon Bar-Hama photo)

On Wednesday, February, 22, the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York City hosted a concert and exhibit opening for Vienna and New York: 175 Years of Two PhilharmonicsFeaturing artifacts highlighting the founding and history of both the New York Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the exhibit also included the manuscript score of Richard Strauss’s Symphony no. 2 in F minor from the Theodore Thomas collection in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Rosenthal Archives.

Frank Villella, archivist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, describes the Strauss manuscript to Matthew VanBesien, president of the New York Philharmonic, and William Josephson

Frank Villella, archivist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, describes the Strauss manuscript to Matthew VanBesien, president of the New York Philharmonic, and William Josephson (Ardon Bar-Hama photo)

Musicians from both orchestras—clarinet Daniel Ottensamer and violins Daniel Froschauer and Harald Krumpöck from the Vienna Philharmonic, and viola Cynthia Phelps and cello Carter Brey from the New York Philharmonic—were on hand to perform Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet at the beginning of the program. Remarks were delivered by the presidents of both orchestras, Andreas Großbauer and Matthew VanBesien, along with Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s minister for foreign affairs and integration. And in the entryway to the Forum, COSMIC ROCKET, a temporary art installation by Nives Widauer, utilized tour trunks from both orchestras.

Barbara Haws, archivist for the New York Philharmonic, talks about the case dedicated to Leonard Bernstein

Barbara Haws, archivist for the New York Philharmonic, talks about the case dedicated to Leonard Bernstein (Ardon Bar-Hama photo)

The press release describing the event and exhibit is here, and an article from The New York Times, which includes images of several of the artifacts, is here.

The exhibit will be open to the public until March 10 and then travel on to Vienna (the Strauss score will only be included in the New York leg of the exhibit), opening on March 28 at the Haus der Musik and on display through January 2018.

Archivists and historians representing five institutions were on hand for the opening reception: Gino Fran

Archivists and historians representing five institutions were on hand for the opening reception: Gino Francesconi (Carnegie Hall), Barbara Haws (New York Philharmonic), Silvia Kargl (Vienna Philharmonic), Frank Villella (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Gabryel Smith (New York Philharmonic), Friedemann Pestel (Vienna Philharmonic), and Bridget Carr (Boston Symphony Orchestra) (Ardon Bar-Hama photo)

In the spring of 1976, the major American political parties had not yet hosted their conventions to nominate candidates for president. But on May 11—the day after the first of three concerts at Carnegie Hall by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg SoltiDonal Henahan of The New York Times had a suggestion:


“Solti’s Chicagoans Stimulate a Yen to Yell”

It is pretty well agreed now, among decibel collectors, that the audiences at Chicago Symphony concerts make more noise than anybody. If you happen to pass Carnegie Hall tomorrow or Friday night and notice that sturdy old monument rocking slightly on its foundations, do not worry: It is only the Chicago orchestra’s fans going happily mad over a performance conducted by Sir Georg Solti. (Don’t run out to buy tickets, by the way; Chicago Symphony concerts are invariably sold out as soon as they are announced.)

The sheer fervor, somewhat resembling religious fanaticism, that characterizes the New York ovations for Chicago/Solti, is a phenomenon worth some sociologist’s study. Of course, the Chicago Symphony is one of the world’s great orchestras, and Sir Georg is undeniably one of the world’s most exciting conductors. The cheering is, therefore, aimed at real quality.

But the Dionysian frenzy that many observers have commented upon goes beyond ordinary enthusiasm into the category of the demonstration. Chicago players and Sir Georg himself have confessed that the intensity of these ovations in New York takes them aback. Thoughtful musicians cross their fingers, in fact. They have seen reputations rise and fall, for what seems too little reason either way, and know how capricious and irrational audiences can be.

The Chicago/Solti phenomenon has been compared to the cult that grew up around Toscanini and his NBC Symphony a generation ago, to the Stokowski fan clubs of his Philadelphia Orchestra years and to the von Karajan mystique in some sectors of the musical world today. Unsophisticated music listeners, with the help of judicious publicity agents, love to fasten upon an idol, to proclaim this or that artist “the greatest” and fall prostrate at mention of the holy name. Other and wiser folk simply like to cheer what they regard as the best. Cheering is an emotional purgative, a primal scream that often seems to do the screamer more good than the

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

Beyond the obvious fact of its lofty quality, there are several arguable rationalizations for the kind of hysteria regularly generated by the Chicago under Sir Georg. When the orchestra made its first Carnegie Hall appearances under him six years ago, many knowledgeable New Yorkers were simply flattened by what they heard. The Chicago Symphony—unlike the Cleveland under Szell, the Boston under Leinsdorf, the Philadelphia under Ormandy—had not been a regular visitor.

Fritz Reiner, who built the orchestra to its current level in the late 1950s, hated touring. He refused to do the kind of barnstorming to high prestige places that would have made the Chicago Symphony’s greatness apparent to more than the blessed few who heard it regularly in its own Orchestra Hall during Dr. Reiner’s ten‐year regime.

The fact, which Sir Georg readily admits, is that the Chicago Symphony as it stands (or sits) is largely the product of the Reiner years. The Solti genius has consisted in making splendid use of a ready‐made instrument. Not the least amazing thing about the Chicago’s current status as a symbol of excellence is that of all major American orchestras it is the oldest: Most of the players date back to the Reiner years before.

Another possible factor in the Chicago’s popularity is the high percentage of opera fans who frequent these concerts. One of Sir Georg’s first smash successes at Carnegie came in 1971 with a concert performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and he subsequently offered four other operatic attractions. His sixth, on Friday night, will be The Flying Dutchman.

Sir Georg, you remember, had been artistic director of London’s Covent Garden opera house, and his renown as an opera conductor fattened considerably when he completed the first Ring cycle ever produced on commercially available recordings, for London Records. And, since opera enthusiasts on the whole are famous—or notorious, as you wish—for treating their heroes and heroines to hysterical ovations, Chicago/Solti has not suffered from being attractive to the opera set.


Another and probably more disputable conjecture: there existed in New York at the time of the Chicago/Solti arrival on the scene, a considerable number of people who yearned to hear concerts led by an unashamedly passionate “maestro,” preferably someone cast in the Toscanini mold. To some extent, Leonard Bernstein in his early years with the Philharmonic fulfilled the needs of this sizable and vocal constituency.

But when Pierre Boulez took charge of the Philharmonic these New Yorkers missed their former feeling of audience participation. They came to regard themselves as disenfranchised musical citizens. Mr. Boulez seemed to them more acoustical scientist than performer, and his analytical talents and objective approach to music were largely unappreciated. For this emotional breed of listener, the coming of Chicago/Solti offered a chance not merely to applaud but also—almost in the political sense of the word—to demonstrate. It was as if they were sending a message.

The yen to yell can come to be as important to certain audiences as the music itself. Opera fans, in particular, seem to regard their demonstrations of affection and approbation as part of the performance, and that can be obnoxious when carried too far. But any continuing audience, such as the one attracted by the Chicago/Solti concerts, is also acting out a communal claim to eliteness. It is proclaiming its own superior taste and knowledge, as well as showing the performers how much they are appreciated: We happy few who know what’s what, we proud melomaniacs, we who make (and can easily break) heroes, salute.

In any event, the Chicago Solti ovations are likely to go down among the legends of New York’s cultural life. And perhaps the explanation is simpler than suggested here. When the inevitable ranting and raving is heard at Carnegie Hall, it may merely be one sector of the musical electorate voting for its concept of what orchestral concerts should be. The Chicago Symphony for President, as it were. Well, we could do worse.

The 1976 U.S. presidential election was held on November 2, 1976. Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, the Democratic party candidate, ran against and defeated incumbent president Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate.

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Michael Wilson photo)

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Michael Wilson photo)

This week we mark the tenth anniversary of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson‘s last appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as mezzo-soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 in March 2006.

Michael Tilson Thomas, who conducted those performances, remembers his friend and colleague: “None of us suspected that the Mahler 2 concerts would be Lorraine’s last performances. She was in great spirits and very engaged in the wonder of the whole experience. In between the performances I was playing piano for her in rehearsals of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder which we were to record only a few weeks later. One day we found a precious half hour of free time in the hall and played through the entire piece on stage. No one was present, but the performance that she gave in that empty hall was one of total commitment. It was beyond beautiful. It was confessional in a way that was overwhelming and somehow made me concerned for her. She was giving absolutely everything. After we went through the cycle we talked a bit about the song Liebst du um Schönheit? (Do you love beauty?). She was still finding her way with the song, which speaks so simply, so confessionally about love. I suggested that she think less about the process of singing it. She said, ‘Thank you Michael. I’ve got it. I’ll just feel it. I’ll just be it.’ She sang it again. It was a miracle. That miracle was what Lorraine was all about.”

On April 22, 23, and 24, 1999, she made her debut as soloist (as Lorraine Hunt) with the Orchestra in the world premiere of John Harbison‘s Four Psalms, led by Christoph Eschenbach. Lisa Saffer, Frank Kelley, and James Maddalena also were soloists, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Duain Wolfe.

In the Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein praised her “deep expressivity,” and in the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma added that Harbison’s opening prelude—a Hebrew prayer for mezzo-soprano—was “a masterstroke. Making her CSO debut, Hunt was an immediately galvanizing presence. Her voice was powerful and expressive, with gleaming high notes and a dusky, impassioned lower register. Lingering over her final lines, endlessly decorating each syllable as she implored God to transform her dreams, she seemed reluctant to end her conversation with the Lord.”

March 7, 2006

March 7, 2006 (David Robertson replaced James Levine and the program remained unchanged)

Hunt Lieberson—she married composer Peter Lieberson later in 1999—returned to Orchestra Hall on March 7, 2006, as soloist in her husband’s Neruda Songs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. David Robertson conducted. (Robertson replaced James Levine, who had been injured in an onstage fall during the previous week.)

“The other happy development was the presence of acclaimed mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. She has dropped out of several announced engagements in recent seasons, reportedly due to health issues. That she was on hand as scheduled as soloist in the lush Neruda Songs, written for her by her husband Peter Lieberson, was a kind of musical bonus,” wrote Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “Hunt Lieberson is a singer who inhabits the music rather than merely singing it, and her anguish in Sonnet XLV, whose first line reads, ‘Don’t go far off, not even for a day,’ was wrenching. In the final poem, a serene meditation on death, the glowing richness of her seductive mezzo created a sense of profound peace.”

Lieberson's Neruda Songs (Nonesuch release)

Lieberson’s Neruda Songs (Nonesuch release)

“Lieberson’s orchestral song cycle, a setting of five poems by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, deals with different facets of love: simple adoration, the joy and mystery of nature, the terror of separation, the struggle between yearning and contentment,” added von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “The composer wrote the cycle as an extended love letter to his wife, who sang them affectingly. It is a haunting, exquisitely crafted piece, mostly quiet and reflective, with luminous vocal lines that nestle in the delicate orchestration as one does in the arms of one’s beloved. Hunt Lieberson once more proved why she is America’s most indispensable classical singer. Her voice rose from a smoky sigh to an ecstatic peal in an instant; she didn’t just sing these poignant songs, she became them.”

(Hunt Lieberson had recorded the songs live with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Levine in November 2005. The subsequent release on Nonesuch earned a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance.)

March 16, 17, and 18, 2006

March 16, 17, and 18, 2006

The following week, Hunt Lieberson shared the stage with soprano Celena Shafer and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe) on March 16, 17, and 18, 2006, in Mahler’s Symphony no. 2. Tilson Thomas conducted.

In the Chicago Tribune, von Rhein wrote, “Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s entry in the Urlicht was so soft, so gentle, as to hold the audience at rapt attention. The mezzo-soprano sang as if utterly transfixed, appropriately so to suggest the simple voice of a child who believes she’s in heaven.” And in the Chicago Sun-Times, Delacoma added, “Floating on the air with the warmth of a low, vibrant cello, her opening solo was full of sympathy at humankind’s grief. Like a wise mother comforting an inconsolable child, her voice was soft but firm, never denying the pain of death but holding out the hope of resurrection.”

Less than four months later, Hunt Lieberson lost her battle with breast cancer on July 3, 2006, at the age of 52. Her appearances in Chicago in March were her last public performances.

Countless tributes—including Alex Ross in The New Yorker, Lloyd Schwartz on NPR, and Marc Geelhoed in Slate, among many others—were published. Peter Sellars, one of her most frequent collaborators, described her singing: “Her voice [fills] the room and you don’t know where it’s coming from. . . . It can be piercing and shocking in its intensity, and then this incredible balm of compassion and tenderness, of generosity that is poured out of her voice like a kind of liquid that is there to heal.”


On a personal note . . .

I was lucky not only to be in the audience when Hunt Lieberson sang her husband’s Neruda Songs on March 7 but also to be onstage in the Chorus for the three performances of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.

Hunt Lieberson's program biography

Hunt Lieberson’s March 2006 program biography

On March 14, the day before our first session with the Orchestra, the Chorus had a rehearsal with Michael Tilson Thomas—what we call the conductor’s piano rehearsal. Only occasionally do the soloists also attend this rehearsal, so we were surprised to see Hunt Lieberson and Shafer walk in as well. From the Chorus’s usual seats in the terrace (behind the Orchestra) during a performance, we don’t have a great vantage point to hear soloists; but for this rehearsal, they were facing us, just a few feet away.

Tilson Thomas started at the first chorus entrance, “Aufersteh’n.” The mezzo-soprano solo begins a few minutes later and when Hunt Lieberson stood, she didn’t just rehearse—she performed. She threw herself into the music with urgency and demanded our attention, even though the performance didn’t seem to be for us. It was immediate, raw, electric.

During the break, she sat alone, studying her score. I approached her, asked if I could say hello, and expressed how much I had admired her performance of the Neruda Songs. I inquired if the performances in Boston had been recorded, and we talked about the possibility that they would be released. And, of course, I said how much I was looking forward to the Mahler. Throughout, she was very gracious.

To say now that those performances were special is an understatement. The experience and privilege of having shared the stage with her will always remain.

the vault

Theodore Thomas


The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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