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Strauss's manuscript score for his Symphony in F minor, paired with the New York Philharmonic program from the world premiere, December 13, 1884

Strauss’s manuscript score for his Symphony in F minor paired with December 13, 1884, program from the New York Philharmonic world premiere, conducted by Theodore Thomas

The manuscript score of Richard Strauss’s Symphony no. 2 in F minor—one of the most historically significant artifacts in the Theodore Thomas collection—is back in New York.

During the 2016-17 season, the New York Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra—both founded in 1842—celebrate their 175th anniversaries. To commemorate this remarkable occasion, a joint exhibit of archival materials opens this week at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. For this event, the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was invited to collaborate, loaning the Strauss score.

The exhibit will then travel to Vienna (the Strauss score will only be included in the New York leg of the exhibit) and open on March 28 at the Haus der Musik (the one-time home of Otto Nicolai, the founder of the Vienna Philharmonic), launching a new permanent archive.

Coinciding with the exhibit, the Vienna Philharmonic presents three concerts at Carnegie Hall on February 24, 25, and 26, and the New York Philharmonic will perform at Vienna’s Konzerthaus on March 29 as part of its spring European tour.

Several images of the artifacts featured and the exhibit setup are below. More images of tonight’s press opening event to come . . . stay tuned!

Ardon Bar-Hama photographs the title page of Strauss's F minor symphony

In the New York Philharmonic’s archives, Ardon Bar-Hama photographs the title page of Strauss’s F minor symphony

A first edition of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, used for the New York Philharmonic's first concert

A first edition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, used for the New York Philharmonic’s first concert

Program for the New York Philharmonic's first concert, given on December 7, 1842

Program for the New York Philharmonic’s first concert, given on December 7, 1842

New York Philharmonic assistant archivist Gabryel Smith setting up the exhibit

New York Philharmonic assistant archivist Gabryel Smith setting up the exhibit

New York Philharmonic program for Leonard Bernstein's debut (replacing Bruno Walter) on November 14, 1943

New York Philharmonic program for Leonard Bernstein’s debut (replacing Bruno Walter) on November 14, 1943

Program for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's first concert, given on March 28, 1842

Program for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s first concert, given on March 28, 1842

Founding documents for the Vienna and New York orchestras

Founding documents for the Vienna and New York orchestras

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Margaret Hillis

One of Fritz Reiner‘s primary goals early in his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s sixth music director was to schedule and perform major choral works. However, the repertory he wished to perform was, in his opinion, too demanding for the amateur groups usually engaged. Reiner sought out Margaret Hillis—then founder and director of the New York Concert Choir—and convinced her to come to Chicago to start a chorus on a par with the Orchestra.

On March 13 and 14, 1958, the Chicago Symphony Chorus made its official debut in Mozart’s Requiem. Bruno Walter conducted and the soloists were Maria Stader, Maureen Forrester, David Lloyd, and Otto Edelmann. In the Chicago Tribune, Claudia Cassidy wrote: “It was a wonderfully strong performance Mr. Walter gave us, deploying his forces with a direct, powerful simplicity of style. In the Mozart Requiem, the chorus is the focal point, the orchestra and soloists of the highest quality are taken for granted. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is in high estate, with the kind of clairvoyance that gives a conductor what he wants in sound. . . . The evening’s card up the Mozartean sleeve was the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus of about 100 voices, expertly chosen and admirably trained by Margaret Hillis. It had balance and hints of brilliance, it was adroit in attack and it had moments of reassuringly imaginative song. The Confutatis in particular caught the haunted terror that was Mozart’s when the mysterious commission for the Requiem convinced him that the death knell he wrote was his own.”

March 13 & 14, 1958

March 13 & 14, 1958

Less than a month later, on April 3, 4, and 8, 1958, the Chorus appeared in Verdi’s Requiem with Reiner conducting. The soloists included Leonie Rysanek, Regina Resnik, David Lloyd, and Giorgio Tozzi. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Robert C. Marsh wrote that “Miss Hillis’s chorus proved its virtues earlier this season. Again its excellent enunciation, reliable intonation, and intelligent response were praiseworthy.” The following season, Hillis led the Orchestra and Chorus in Honegger’s Christmas Cantata on December 26 and 27, 1958, becoming the first woman to conduct subscription concerts.

This article also appears here.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra first performed Mozart’s Requiem on subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall on March 29 and 30, 1951. Bruno Walter conducted and the soloists were Nancy Carr, Nan Merriman, Eugene Conley, and Cesare Siepi, along with the combined choral organizations of Northwestern University, prepared by George Howerton. And in 1957 when Walter—a frequent and beloved guest conductor as well as a highly regarded Mozart specialist—informed CSO management that his March 1958 appearances would be his last in Chicago, Eric Oldberg, president of The Orchestral Association, insisted that he should conduct the Requiem again with the newly formed Chicago Symphony Chorus.

The Chicago Symphony Chorus's formal debut on March 13 and 14, 1958

March 13 and 14, 1958

On March 13 and 14, 1958, the Chorus made its official debut in Mozart’s Requiem. Walter, in his final appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted, and the soloists were Maria Stader, Maureen Forrester, David Lloyd, and Otto Edelmann. (According to Erik Ryding and Rebecca Pechefsky‘s excellent biography of Bruno Walter, “the two female soloists [made] an amusing picture onstage: the diminutive Maria Stader stood beside the towering Maureen Forrester, then in an ‘advanced’ stage of pregnancy. To make the discrepancy in their appearance less striking, Walter placed Stader on a platform.”)

In the Chicago Tribune, Claudia Cassidy was critical of the work itself. She wrote that Mozart’s Requiem “is not a fully satisfying work—like all things finished by another’s hand it leaves the tantalizing question of what it might have been had Mozart’s haunted, tormented spirit found whatever haven it sought of peace, whether of joy or of oblivion. When [Franz] Suessmayer takes over much beauty remains, but the aura of this special Mozart, which is unlike any other, has vanished. The Requiem ends, but the toll of the bell has lost its terror.”

Walter Mozart Requiem

But of the concert, she continued: “It was a wonderfully strong performance Mr. Walter gave us, deploying his forces with a direct, powerful simplicity of style. In the Mozart Requiem, the chorus is the focal point, the orchestra and soloists of the highest quality are taken for granted. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is in high estate, with the kind of clairvoyance that gives a conductor what he wants in sound. The four soloists, three of them new to the orchestra, were tiny Maria Stader of the soprano that sounds like an angelic flute, stately Maureen Forrester of the contralto so big, warm and gentle it makes you feel rested just to listen, David Lloyd of the musicianly tenor, and Otto Edelmann, who could give no more than a tempting sample of the big bass-baritone so renowned in the opera realms of Hans Sachs and Baron Ochs. They made a wonderful Mozart quartet.

Margaret Hillis

Margaret Hillis

“None of this was surprising. The evening’s card up the Mozartean sleeve was the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra chorus of about 100 voices, expertly chosen and admirably trained by Margaret Hillis. It had balance and hints of brilliance, it was adroit in attack and it had moments of reassuringly imaginative song. The Confutatis in particular caught the haunted terror that was Mozart’s when the mysterious commission for the Requiem convinced him that the death knell he wrote was his own.” The complete review is here.

A recording of the Lacrimosa from those performances was released on Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration (volume 13 from the CSO’s From the Archives series) in 1998. The complete story of the Chorus’s founding was included in a CSO program book feature article in the fall of 1997.

This week Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony, almost exactly one hundred years since Frederick Stock first conducted it in Chicago.

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first performances of Mahler's First Symphony

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s First Symphony

That first performance of the symphony (sandwiched between Handel’s Concerto grosso, op. 6, no. 2 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Josef Hofmann) on November 6, 1914, left Ronald Webster of the Chicago Daily Tribune a bit puzzled: “The Mahler symphony is less important but more interesting to talk about because it is strictly earthy. There is a suggestion in the program notes that Mahler was not wholly serious in this symphony. It was obvious yesterday that he was not serious at all. Even the finale is not serious, though it is tiresome, being too long. But it is the quality of the humor which is likely to cause people to turn up their noses. The humor is a little coarse, definitely ironical, of a barnyard kind and healthy. Mahler is himself partly to blame for such ideas about him. Definite conceptions such as his (though he may not have been serious about them either) are death to all mystic attitude toward this work. . . . He suggests that the first movement is nature’s awakening at early morning. One suspects that Mahler included in nature the cows and chickens as well as the cuckoo and the dewy grass.” The complete review is here.

Despite that critic’s early apprehensions, the symphony soon became a staple in the Orchestra’s repertoire and has been led—at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour—by a vast array of conductors, including: Roberto Abbado, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Adam Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Irwin Hoffman, Paul Kletzki, Kirill Kondrashin, Rafael Kubelík, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Henry Mazer, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, George Schick, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Georg Solti, William Steinberg, Klaus Tennstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Bruno Walter, and Jaap van Zweden.

And the Orchestra has recorded the work six times, as follows:

Giulini 1971Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel at Medinah Temple in March 1971
Christopher Bishop, producer
Carson Taylor, engineer
Giulini’s recording won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Orchestra from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Abbado 1981Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in February 1981
Rainer Brock, producer
Karl-August Naegler, engineer

Solti 1983Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London at Orchestra Hall in October 1983
James Mallinson, producer
James Lock, engineer

Tennstedt 1990Klaus Tennstedt, conductor
Recorded by EMI at Orchestra Hall in May and June 1990
John Fraser, producer
Michael Sheady, engineer

Boulez 1998Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in May 1998
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Rainer Maillard and Reinhard Lagemann, engineers

Haitink 2008Bernard Haitink, conductor
Recorded by CSO Resound at Orchestra Hall in May 2008
James Mallinson, producer
Christopher Willis, engineer

For more information on Muti’s performances of Mahler’s First this week, please visit the CSO’s website.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has performed Verdi’s Requiem on numerous occasions, and a complete list of all documented performances is below:

Northwestern, June 1910 - Lutkin conducting

North Shore May Festival, Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, June 1910 – Peter C. Lutkin conducting

June 4, 1910 (Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, Illinois)
Peter C. Lutkin conductor
Jane Osborn-Hannah, soprano
Rose Lutiger-Gannon, contralto
Evan Williams, tenor
Allen Hinckley, bass
North Shore Festival Chorus

February 7, 1912 (Massey Music Hall, Toronto, Ontario)
February 28, 1912 (Carnegie Hall, New York)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (for 2/7, not confirmed for 2/28)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Christine Miller, mezzo-soprano
George Hamlin, tenor
Clarence Whitehill, bass-baritone
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

February 26, 1912 (Convention Hall, Buffalo, New York)
February 29, 1912 (Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts)
(Excerpt: Libera me)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (not confirmed)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

May 15, 1913 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Albert A. Stanley, conductor
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Ernestine Schumann-Heink, contralto
Lambert Murphy, tenor
Henri Scott, bass
University Choral Union

February 2, 1914 (Massey Music Hall, Toronto)
(Excerpts: Offertorium, Sanctus and Benedictus, Responsorium)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (not confirmed)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Mildred Potter, contralto
Reed Miller, tenor
Horatio Connell, baritone
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

Pabst Theatre, April 1951 - Herman A. Zeitz conducting

Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 1951 – Herman A. Zeitz conducting

April 5, 1915 (Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Herman A. Zeitz, conductor
Lucille Stevenson, soprano
Charlotte Peege, mezzo-soprano
Albert Lindquest, tenor
Burton Thatcher, bass
Milwaukee Musical Society Mixed Chorus

April 18, 1915 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Protheroe, conductor
Marjorie Dodge Warner, soprano
Rose Lutiger-Gannon, contralto
Albert Lindquest, tenor
Marion Green, bass
Allen W. Bogen, organ
“50 Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra”
Irish Choral Society

May 14, 1915 (Elmwood Music Hall, Buffalo, New York)
Frederick Stock, conductor
Anna Case, soprano
Margarete Matzenauer, contralto
Paul Althouse, tenor
Clarence Whitehill, bass-baritone
Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus
Andrew T. Webster, director

April 11, 1918 (Orchestra Hall)
Harrison M. Wild, conductor
Adelaide Fischer, soprano
Emma Roberts, alto
Theodore Karle, tenor
Henri Scott, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 13, 1919 (Auditorium Theatre)
(Given in memory of the heroes of the U.S. and Allied nations)
May 18, 1919 (Bartlett Gymnasium, University of Chicago)
(Given in memory of members of the University of Chicago fallen in the war)
Harrison M. Wild, conductor
Monica Graham Stultz, soprano
Louise Harrison Slade, alto
Robert Quait, tenor
Arthur Middleton, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

North Shore Music Festival, May 1928 - Frederick Stock conducting

North Shore May Festival, Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, May 1928 – Frederick Stock conducting

May 20, 1920 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Albert A. Stanley, conductor
Leona Sparkes, soprano
Carolina Lazzari, contralto
William Wheeler, tenor
Léon Rothier, bass
University Choral Union

May 21, 1928 ((Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, Illinois))
Frederick Stock, conductor
Isabel Richardson Molter, soprano
Alvene Resseguie, contralto
Eugene F. Dressler, tenor
Rollin M. Pease, baritone
Festival Chorus of 600 Singers
A Cappella Choir

April 16, 1929 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Else Harthan Arendt, soprano
Lilian Knowles, contralto
Edwin Kemp, tenor
Raymund Koch, bass
Chicago Sunday Evening Club Choir
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, May 1930 - Moore conducting

Ann Arbor May Festival, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 1930 – Earl V. Moore conducting

May 17, 1930 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Earl V. Moore, conductor
Nanette Guilford, soprano
Kathryn Meisle, contralto
Paul Althouse, tenor
Chase Baromeo, bass
Palmer Christian, organ
University Choral Union

February 20, 1934 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Margery Maxwell, soprano
Lilian Knowles, alto
William Miller, tenor
Mark Love, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 21, 1941 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Esther Hart, soprano
Ruth Heizer, alto
William Miller, tenor
Mark Love, bass
Robert Birch, organ
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 8, 1949 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Maud Nosler, soprano
Lili Chookasian, contralto
Edward Richmond, tenor
David Austin, bass
Robert Birch, organ
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Ravinia Festival, July 1951 - William Steinberg conducting

Ravinia Festival, July 1951 – William Steinberg conducting

July 31, 1951 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg, conductor
Frances Yeend, soprano
Elena Nikolaidi, mezzo-soprano
Jan Peerce, tenor
Yi-Kwei Sze, bass
Northwestern University Summer Chorus
George Howerton, director

February 14 and 15, 1952 (Orchestra Hall)
Bruno Walter, conductor
Zinka Milanov, soprano
Elena Nikolaidi, mezzo-soprano
David Poleri, tenor
Cesare Siepi, bass
Combined Choral Organizations of Northwestern University
George Howerton, director

August 2, 1956 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg conductor
Frances Yeend, soprano
Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano
Jan Peerce, tenor
Nicola Moscana, bass
Northwestern University Summer Chorus
George Howerton, director

Orchestra Hall, April 1958 - Fritz Reiner conducting

Orchestra Hall, April 1958 – Fritz Reiner conducting

April 3 and 4, 1958 (Orchestra Hall)
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Leonie Rysanek, soprano
Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano
David Lloyd, tenor
Giorgio Tozzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 22, 1960 (Orchestra Hall)
Henry Veld, conductor
Alice Riley, soprano
Evelyn Reynolds, alto
Thomas MacBone, tenor
Lionel Godow, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

July 30, 1966 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg, conductor
Saramae Endich, soprano
Maureen Forrester, mezzo-soprano
Jacob Barkin, tenor
John Macurdy, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 14, 15, and 16, 1968 (Orchestra Hall)
Jean Martinon, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Carol Smith, mezzo-soprano
Sándor Kónya, tenor
Malcolm Smith, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Orchestra Hall, March 1971 - Carlo Maria Giulini conducting

Orchestra Hall, March 1971 – Carlo Maria Giulini conducting

March 25, 26, and 27, 1971 (Orchestra Hall)
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Carlo Cossutta, tenor
Ezio Flagello, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 24 and 26, 1975 (Orchestra Hall)
April 30, 1975 (Carnegie Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 31, 1977 (Orchestra Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 24, 1983 (Ravinia Festival)
James Levine, conductor
Leona Mitchell, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Ermanno Mauro, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Orchestra Hall, November 1986 - Claudio Abbado conducting

Orchestra Hall, November 1986 – Claudio Abbado conducting

November 13, 14, and 16, 1986 (Orchestra Hall)
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Bonaldo Giaiotti, bass (November 13 and 14)
Samuel Ramey, bass (November 16)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 23, 1989 (Ravinia Festival)
James Levine, conductor
Andrea Gruber, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 3 and 4, 1989 (Orchestra Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor (November 3)
Michael Morgan, conductor (November 4)
(Excerpt: Sanctus)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master

September 17, 18, 23, and 25, 1993 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Vicente Ombuena, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Ravinia Festival, June 1996 - Christoph Eschenbach conducting

Ravinia Festival, June 1996 – Christoph Eschenbach conducting

June 23, 1996 (Ravinia Festival)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Shinobu Satoh, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Richard Leech, tenor
Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

April 24, 26, and 28, 2001 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Margaret Jane Wray, soprano (April 24)
Deborah Voigt, soprano (April 26 and 28)
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano
Johan Botha, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

June 30, 2001 (Ravinia Festival)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Adina Nitescu, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
John Relyea, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

July 8, 2006 (Ravinia Festival)
James Conlon, conductor
Christine Brewer, soprano
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Frank Lopardo, tenor
Vitalij Kowaljow, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

Orchestra Hall, January 2009 - Riccardo Muti conducting

Orchestra Hall, January 2009 – Riccardo Muti conducting

June 14, 15, and 16, 2007 (Orchestra Hall)
David Zinman, conductor
Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano
Yvonne Naef, mezzo-soprano
Giuseppe Sabbatini, tenor
Morris D. Robinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

January 15, 16, and 17, 2009 (Orchestra Hall)
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

János Starker

Legendary cellist and teacher János Starker, principal cello (1953–1958) and frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, died on April 28, 2013, in Bloomington, Indiana. He was 88.

János Starker was born in Budapest, Hungary to Russian émigré parents. He began cello studies at age six, taught his first lesson at age eight, and gave his first public performance at age ten. He studied at the Franz Liszt Royal Academy, where faculty included Béla Bartók, Zoltan Kodály, Ernst von Dohnányi, and Leo Weiner. It was also at the Liszt Academy where he met his lifelong friend and future CSO concertmaster, Victor Aitay.

After imprisonment in a internment camp (on Csepel Island, in the Danube next to Budapest) during World War II, Starker became principal cello of the Budapest Opera and Philharmonic orchestras. With Aitay, he left Hungary in 1946 for Vienna, performing as soloist and in Aitay’s string quartet. Starker immigrated to the United States in 1948 and joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as principal cello at the invitation of Antal Doráti. The next year, he occupied the same position in New York City’s Metropolitan Opera under the direction of fellow Hungarian Fritz Reiner. With Reiner, Starker came to Chicago and became principal cello of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1953. He became an American citizen in 1954.

The maestro joined the newest members of the Orchestra for an informal photo in 1953. The new musicians are (left to right): Nathan Snader, violin; Juan Cuneo, violin; Joseph Golan, violin; Alan Fuchs, horn; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; Ray Still, oboe; and János Starker, cello.

Fritz Reiner and the newest members of the Orchestra in 1953: Nathan Snader, violin; Juan Cuneo, violin; Joseph Golan, violin; Alan Fuchs, horn; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; Ray Still, oboe; and Starker.

In 1958, Starker left Chicago and resumed his career as an international soloist and for the next five decades, he appeared in recitals and as soloist with the world’s leading orchestras. In addition to performing all the major works from the cello repertoire, he performed concertos written for him by David Baker, Doráti, Bernhard Heiden, Jean Martinon, Miklós Rózsa, Robert Starer, and Chou Wen-chung. Starker was the subject of countless news articles, magazine profiles, and television documentaries, and his performances have been broadcast on radio and television around the world.

Starker’s discography includes more than 270 recordings of over 180 pieces, many of which have become landmark records of cello literature. He made an unprecedented five recordings of J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello; the final album received the 1997 Grammy Award for best instrumental soloist performance (without orchestra). Starker’s first recording of Kodály’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello received France’s Grand prix du disque in 1948.

Starker was equally renowned as a teacher. He joined the faculty of Indiana University in 1958 and was named a distinguished professor in 1962. He taught at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada for seventeen years and at the Hochschule für Musik in Essen, Germany for five years, and many of his students (including the CSO’s own Brant Taylor) have won prestigious awards and occupy prominent positions in chamber ensembles and major orchestras. Starker published and recorded a series of studies entitled An Organized Method of String Playing which remains an important piece of cello instruction. He published or edited numerous musical scores and articles, and developed the Starker Bridge designed to enhance the acoustics of stringed instruments. His autobiography, The World of Music According to Starker, was published by Indiana University Press in 2004.

Starker received five honorary degrees and numerous awards including the Kodály Commemorative Medallion from the Government of Hungary in 1983 and the Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres from the French Republic in 1997. He played the Lord Aylesford Stradivarius cello between 1950 and 1964, and he also played a 1705 Matteo Goffriller cello throughout his career.

For the United States premiere of 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, Ravinia music director Seiji Ozawa.

Starker was soloist in the United States premiere of Martinon’s Cello Concerto at the Ravinia Festival on July 31, 1965. Seiji Ozawa, the Festival’s music director, conducted.

A complete list of János Starker’s solo appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

November 19 and 20, 1953
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Fritz Reiner, conductor

November 24, 1953
SCHUBERT/Cassadó Cello Concerto in A Minor
Fritz Reiner, conductor

February 4 and 5, 1954
BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56
Bruno Walter, conductor
George Schick, piano
John Weicher, violin

January 6 and 7, 1955
BRAHMS Double Concerto in A Minor, Op. 102
Bruno Walter, conductor
John Weicher, violin

April 14 and 15, 1955
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 58
Fritz Reiner, conductor

October 6, 7, and 11, 1955
STRAUSS Don Quixote, Op. 35
Fritz Reiner, conductor
John Weicher, violin
Milton Preves, viola

January 5 and 6, 1956
SCHUMANN Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129
Fritz Reiner, conductor

February 28, March 1, and 12, 1957
BRAHMS Double Concerto in A Minor, Op. 102
Fritz Reiner, conductor
John Weicher, violin

March 14 and 15, 1957
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33
Fritz Reiner, conductor

June 28, 1957 (Ravinia Festival)
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Igor Markevitch, conductor

December 5 and 6, 1957
HINDEMITH Cello Concerto
Fritz Reiner, conductor

March 20, 21, and 25, 1958
STRAUSS Don Quixote, Op. 35
Fritz Reiner, conductor
John Weicher, violin
Milton Preves, viola

October 19 and 20, 1961
PROKOFIEV Symphony-Concerto for Cello, Op. 125
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

July 23, 1963 (Ravinia Festival)
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, conductor

July 30, 1963 (Ravinia Festival)
WALTON Cello Concerto
Sir William Walton, conductor

December 3 and 4, 1964
HAYDN Cello Concerto in C Major
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Jean Martinon, conductor

July 31, 1965 (Ravinia Festival)
MARTINON Cello Concerto, Op. 52
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 29, 1967 (Ravinia Festival)
LALO Cello Concerto in D Minor
Jean Martinon, conductor

May 9 and 10, 1968
HINDEMITH Cello Concerto
Jean Martinon, conductor

July 18, 1970 (Ravinia Festival)
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
István Kertész, conductor

November 4 and 5, 1971
RÓZSA Cello Concerto, Op. 32
Georg Solti, conductor

July 15, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
HAYDN Cello Concerto in C Major
István Kertész, conductor

July 21, 1973 (Ravinia Festival)
BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56
BRAHMS Double Concerto in A Minor, Op. 102
Sergiu Comissiona, conductor
Rudolf Buchbinder, piano
Franco Gulli, violin

July 27, 1974 (Ravinia Festival)
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Kazimierz Kord, conductor

August 2, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107
Lawrence Foster, conductor

October 7, 8, and 9, 1976
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

November 22, 24, and 25, 1978
BOCCHERINI Cello Concerto B-flat Major
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

November 25, 27, and 28, 1987
HINDEMITH Cello Concerto
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

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“In the summer of 1936, I visted the Salzburg Festival for the first time and managed to attend, unofficially, a few rehearsals and performances. Bruno Walter and several other famous musicians were taking part, but the main attraction was [Arturo] Toscanini, who was conducting Fidelio, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger, and some orchestral concerts. The experience was exhilarating—a new world of high quality opened up for me—and the following summer I made up my mind to go back. At my insistent request, the director of the Budapest Opera gave me a letter of recommendation, so that I might get into some rehearsals. I arrived in Salzburg one evening in July 1937, and the next morning I went to the Festspielhaus to present my letter to Baron [Heinrich von] Puthon, a retired Austrian general who was the festival’s general manager. After a long wait, I was introduced to the baron, who read the letter and asked me, ‘Can you play The Magic Flute?’”

Solti replied, “yes,” and was invited to attend the afternoon stage rehearsal. When he arrived in the pit, he sat at the piano, noticed that the singers were onstage and ready, and started playing, giving cues with one hand.

“Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little man enter from the right side of the stage. My heart stopped. It was Toscanini. . . . Without stopping me, he began to conduct—very small, simple, but clear indications of tempo and dynamics. I followed him as if my life depended on it. After an hour or so, he called a break, turned to me, and said softly, ‘Bene.’ I do not think any complment I have ever received has given me as much joy as that one from Toscanini.”

At Toscanini’s insistence, Solti became one of his assistants and also played glockenspiel for the Magic Flute performances. At the end of the summer, Solti was engaged as a répétiteur for the following season, to assist Toscanini and coach four operas. However, Toscanini would never return to Austria.

“News of my having worked with Toscanini—and of my having been reengaged by him—was picked up by the Budapest press, and I began to be noticed as a musician. I pestered the Budapest Opera’s administrators to let me conduct something, and I imagine they realized that if they didn’t give me a chance, I would probably try to go elsewhere. Finally, a performance was arranged for me: The Marriage of Figaro, on March 11, 1938. So far as I know, it was the first time that an unconverted Jew conducted a complete opera in that house since Hungary had become an independent country.

“. . . walking into the orchestra pit to conduct an opera for the first time in my life was a frightening experience, especially as I had not been allowed a single rehearsal. But after the overture, I felt absolutely comfortable and at home. . . . At the beginning of the third act [one of the singers] made all sorts of mistakes, singing incoherently, and seemed to have completely lost his confidence. . . . When I went backstage after the performance had ended, I learned what had happened. Just as he had been about to go on stage, [he] had been handed a copy of an extra edition of an evening newspaper and had learned that German troops were crossing the border into Austria and marching toward Vienna; the historical event that is now referred to as the Anschluss . . . As it turned out, my conducting debut at the Budapest Opera was also my last performance of an opera there. I was only twenty-five years old, but I felt that all my hope had been dashed. That evening left a permanent scar on my heart.”

Text excerpted from Memoirs by Sir Georg Solti.

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In addition to his twenty-two-year tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1969-1991), Sir Georg Solti held a number of notable posts with other orchestras and opera companies.

At the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 1952, leading Wagner’s Das Rheingold

His first official post was with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where he served as music director from 1946 until 1952. Subsequently, he was also Generalmusikdirektor and Impresario for the Frankfurt Opera from 1952 until 1961.

Shortly after his guest conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1959, he was invited by Dorothy Chandler—then the chairman of the Philharmonic’s board—to become their music director beginning the following year. He accepted.

Also in 1959, following the tremendous success in a production of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, he was invited to become music director by their chairman, the Earl of Drogheda.

In Solti’s words: “To his great surprise, I explained to him that although I was honored by the offer, I did not want the job, and that my refusal had nothing to do with the salary. I had accepted the directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic because I felt that I had spent enough time as an opera conductor and wanted to concentrate on symphonic music, and privately, I was not certain that I would be able to do justice to both Los Angeles and London if I accepted both jobs.”

While in Los Angeles for concerts in January 1960, Solti met with Bruno Walter who insisted he take the offer from Covent Garden. Solti took Walter’s advice and telegrammed his acceptance to David Webster (general manager of the Royal Opera House). They agreed that his residence would start in the fall of 1961, one year after the beginning of his tenure in Los Angeles.

At the same time, twenty-three-year-old Zubin Mehta had been invited to be an assistant conductor in Los Angeles. For the 1961-62 season, Fritz Reiner had been engaged to guest conduct the Philharmonic, but after his heart attack in October 1960, he canceled all engagements. According to Solti: “Without consulting me, Mrs. Chandler decided that Reiner’s concerts should be given to Mehta. In June 1960, while I was in London on Covent Garden business, I received a telegram from Mrs. Chandler, saying, ‘With your kind permission I have engaged Zubin Mehta as chief guest conductor of the Philharmonic.’ I was horrified. I had nothing at all against Mehta, who was an outstandingly talented young conductor, but the fact that the chairman of my new orchestra’s board had engaged a chief guest conductor without asking my opinion was intolerable. . . . I cabled back to say that under these conditions, I was unable to honor my contract in Los Angeles.”

Receiving applause with members of the Frankfurt Opera on tour in Paris in 1959, following a performance of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro

Solti went on to serve as music director at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 1961 until 1971. He also served as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the 1961-62 season.

During Solti’s one season in Dallas, he was approached by two members of the CSO’s Orchestral Association, Eric Oldberg (chairman of the board) and Seymour Raven (general manager). Fritz Reiner had announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 1962-63 season and they were searching for a possible replacement. Solti was concerned about not being able to honor his commitment to Covent Garden and wasn’t able to accept an offer.

In 1967, new general manager John Edwards, “came to tell me that Jean Martinon, Reiner’s successor, would be leaving the orchestra the following year and to ask whether I would be willing to become music director. I was certainly willing, but I thought that the job might be too much for me, inasmuch as I was still committed to Covent Garden. I suggested sharing responsibilities with [Carlo Maria] Giulini, who had worked often in Chicago and was much liked there.” After some negotiation, it was agreed that Solti would be music director and Giulini would become the CSO’s first principal guest conductor beginning in the fall of 1969.

Solti also served as music director of the Orchestre de Paris from 1972 until 1975 and as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 until 1983.

Finally, Sir Georg Solti founded the World Orchestra for Peace in 1995 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. He only conducted the orchestra’s inaugural concert on July 5, 1995, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Sir Georg, “I was delighted to be involved in this event, as the UN is an organization in which I firmly believe, although I wish it could have more power and be allowed to function more effectively. Fittingly, the orchestra’s seventy-nine outstanding musicians came from forty-five orchestras in twenty-four countries. We played Rossini’s William Tell Overture as a tribute to Switzerland, our host country; Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death; and the final scene from [Beethoven’s] Fidelio, for its theme of liberation.”

Text excerpted from Memoirs by Sir Georg Solti.

We have lost a great one. 

Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester passed away last week in Toronto at the age of 79. Beautifully written tributes have been published in the Montreal Gazette and in The New York Times.

Forrester made quite an impression here in Chicago. At the age of twenty-seven, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem on March 13 and 14, 1958. Those now historic concerts also included the subscription concert debut of Margaret Hillis‘s newly formed Chicago Symphony Chorus and would also be the final Chicago appearances of beloved guest conductor Bruno Walter.

Her biography from that first program could not have been more modest: “Miss Forrester is a Canadian singer who made her New York recital debut in November 1956; in February, 1957, she appeared with the New York Philharmonic with Bruno Walter. She recently returned from her third European tour.”

Even though Mozart’s Requiem is hardly a showcase for the alto soloist, Forrester’s performance certainly attracted Claudia Cassidy’s attention in her review for the Chicago Tribune: “stately Maureen Forrester of the contralto so big, warm and gentle it makes you feel rested just to listen . . . [part of] a wonderful Mozart quartet.”

Forrester’s second appearances in Chicago were on November 5 and 6, 1959, when she performed what was to become one of her signature works, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Welsh tenor Richard Lewis and conducted by music director Fritz Reiner. The recording, made on November 7 and 10, has never gone out of print.

Forrester would go on to appear with the CSO on numerous occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, in a wide variety of repertoire: Pablo Casals’s El pessebre (conducted by the composer); Beethoven’s Ninth, Bach’s Saint John Passion, Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody (Jean Martinon); Verdi’s Requiem and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (William Steinberg); Mahler’s Third (James Levine and Edo de Waart); Dvořák’s Stabat mater (Rafael Kubelík); and her final performance in Chicago in Mahler’s Second in 1988 (Zubin Mehta).
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One more thing. In 1995, we released the tenth volume of our From the Archives series of recordings (a limited release, featuring works that had been broadcast but not previously commercially released). The name of the set was Great Soloists and included performances with the CSO by Emanuel Feuermann, Zino Francescatti, Håkan Hagegård, Leonid Kogan, Byron Janis, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Andrés Segovia, and Maureen Forrester’s 1968 performance of Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer with Jean Martinon conducting.

Since the recording was produced to be a fundraiser premium, all participants — orchestra members, soloists, publishers, etc. — were asked to donate their services. Of course, we offered each artist a couple of complimentary copies of the finished product. Forrester agreed for her performance to be included and had only one request: that we send a copy of the recording to each of her five grandchildren.

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Theodore Thomas

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Pianist Radu Lupu joins Maestro Muti and the CSO in Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto for the first half of tonight's program. 
Completing the program is Liszt's Dante Symphony, a multi-movement symphonic poem inspired by the Dante Alighieri's journey through Hell and Purgatory, as described in the Italian poet's 14-century masterpiece The Divine Comedy. Photo by @toddrphoto.

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