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On April 21, 2020, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra family celebrates the centennial of Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna (1920–1973).

According to Phillip Huscher, “For many years he had been a close friend of Pierre Boulez (and a true friend of all those involved in new music activities) and a treasured colleague; like Boulez, he had made his mark both as a composer and as a conductor. ‘In fact, to get any real idea of what he was like as a person,’ Boulez wrote at the time of his death, ‘the conductor and the composer must be taken together; for Maderna was a practical person, equally close to music whether he was performing or composing.'”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra first performed music by Maderna at the Ravinia Festival on July 23, 1967, when Luciano Berio led a performance of the Serenata no. 2. In the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Willis wrote, that Maderna’s work “fashioned a post-Webern web of deceptively individual notes into an evocative introduction [to the concert].”

As a conductor, Maderna himself led the Orchestra on several occasions, as follows:

January 15 and 17, 1970, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT/Maderna Five Pieces for Piano, Four Hands
MADERNA Quadrivium (U.S. premiere)
BERIO Epifanie
Cathy Berberian, soprano
STRAVINSKY Circus Polka
STRAVINSKY Scherzo à la russe

January 16, 1970, Orchestra Hall
MADERNA Quadrivium
BERIO Epifanie
Cathy Berberian, soprano
SCHUBERT/Maderna Five Pieces for Piano, Four Hands

Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, and Karlheinz Stockhausen

January 22 and 23, 1970, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 31, D Major, K. 297 (Paris)
BROWN From Here*
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
GABRIELI/Maderna Motet:: In Ecclesiis
VLIJMEN Serenata II for Flute and Orchestra
Donald Peck, flute
SCHOENBERG Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
*In Earle Brown’s From Here, Maderna conducted the Orchestra and the composer conducted the Chorus.

June 29, 1971, Ravinia Festival
GABRIELI/Maderna Motet: In Ecclesiis
STRAVINSKY Jeu de cartes
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Van Cliburn, piano

March 16, 17, and 18, 1972
MOZART Serenade in D Major, K. 239 (Serenata notturna)
SCHOENBERG Concerto for Violin, Op. 36
Esther Glazer, violin
DRUCKMAN Windows (world premiere)
DEBUSSY Jeux

March 23, 24, and 25, 1972
SCHOENBERG Transfigured Night, Op. 4
LEVY Trialogus (world premiere)
STRAVINSKY Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments
Earl Wild, piano
MADERNA Aura (world premiere)

On March 3, 4, 5, and 8, 2005, David Robertson led the Orchestra in performances of Boulez’s Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna. Written shortly after Maderna’s death in 1974 and 1975, Boulez described the work as “A ceremony of memory, in which there are numerous repetitions of the same formulas, in constantly changing profiles and perspectives.” Phillip Huscher’s program note from those performances can be found here.

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biography

April 7 and 8, 1960

Two years after winning the prestigious 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Van Cliburn made his first appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on April 7 and 8, 1960, performing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with Fritz Reiner conducting. On April 12 he was soloist in Schumann’s A minor concerto with the Orchestra, also with Reiner on the podium.

“Van Cliburn cannot be accused of looking for the easy road to success,” wrote Donal Henahan in the Chicago Daily News following the first performance of Brahms’s concerto. The twenty-five year-old pianist gave “a performance of glitter and grace, and one that was breathtakingly well played . . . perhaps no one but Horowitz today could play those double-note scales in both hands with as much apparent ease.”

recording

RCA’s release of Schumann’s Piano Concerto, recorded in Orchestra Hall on April 16, 1960

Cliburn would appear four more times during Reiner’s tenure, and their performances of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in April 1963 were Reiner’s last public appearances. Cliburn later appeared in Chicago under Jean Martinon as well as at the Ravinia Festival with Georges Prêtre, Seiji Ozawa, Donald Johanos, Bruno Maderna, and James Levine. His final appearance with the Orchestra was on July 16, 2005, at Ravinia in Grieg’s Piano Concerto, under festival music director James Conlon.

On the RCA label, he made several recordings with the Orchestra, including Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth concertos, Brahms’s Second, Rachmaninov’s Second, and Schumann’s concerto with Reiner; and MacDowell’s Second and Prokofiev’s Third concertos with Walter Hendl.

A complete list of Van Cliburn’s appearances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found here.

This article also appears here.

Van Cliburn and Fritz Reiner in 1960

Van Cliburn and Fritz Reiner in 1960

We’ve just heard news of the death of the remarkable American pianist Van Cliburn, as reported in the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Two years after winning the prestigious 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Cliburn made his first appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Fritz Reiner conducting. Cliburn would perform four more times during Reiner’s tenure, and their performances of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in April 1963 were Reiner’s last public appearances.

Complete lists of Van Cliburn’s appearances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are below.

Appearances (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

April 7 and 8, 1960
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Fritz Reiner, conductor

April 12, 1960
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Fritz Reiner, conductor

October 20 and 21, 1960
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Walter Hendl, conductor

March 29 and 30, 1962
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Fritz Reiner, conductor

April 18, 19, and 20, 1963
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Fritz Reiner, conductor

April 23, 24, and 25, 1964
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Jean Martinon, conductor

July 24, 1965 (Ravinia Festival)
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Georges Prêtre, conductor

August 11 and 13, 1966 (Ravinia Festival)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

January 12 and 13, 1967
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Jean Martinon, conductor

August 1, 1967 (Ravinia Festival)
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Donald Johanos, conductor

June 29, 1971 (Ravinia Festival)
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Bruno Maderna, conductor

July 17, 1974 (Ravinia Festival)
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
James Levine, conductor

July 16, 2005 (Ravinia Festival)
GRIEG Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
James Conlon, conductor

Recordings:

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1963
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 5 in E flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1961
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA

BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B flat Major, Op. 83
Recorded live in Orchestra Hall, April 8, 1960
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Testament

BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B flat Major, Op. 83
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1961
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA

MACDOWELL Concerto for Piano No. 2 in D Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, October 1960
Walter Hendl, conductor
RCA

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Piano No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, October 1960
Walter Hendl, conductor
RCA

RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March and April 1962
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA

SCHUMANN Concerto for Piano in A Minor, Op. 54
Recorded live in Orchestra Hall, April 12, 1960
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Testament

SCHUMANN Concerto for Piano in A Minor, Op. 54
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1960
Fritz Reiner, conductor
RCA

Updated to include Testament recording release of two live performances — FV

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

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