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Wishing a very happy birthday to Michael Gielen, celebrating his ninetieth on July 20, 2017!

Between 1973 and 2002, Maestro Gielen led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a broad range of repertoire. A complete list of his appearances (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted) is below:

December 6 and 7, 1973
December 10, 1973 (Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee)
HAYDN Symphony No. 95 in C Minor
SZYMANOWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61
Wanda Wilkomirska, violin
PENDERECKI Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra
Wanda Wilkomirska, violin
SCRIABIN Symphony No. 3, Op. 43 (The Divine Poem)

March 21, 22, 23, and 26, 1996
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

March 28, 29, and 30, 1996
J. STRAUSS, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
STUCKY Pinturas de Tamayo (Paintings of Tamayo) (world premiere)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)

October 29, 30, 31, and November 1, 1997
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72
CARTER Piano Concerto
Ursula Oppens, piano
Richard Graef, flute
Grover Schiltz, oboe and english horn
J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet
David Taylor, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
Stephen Balderston, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
SCHUBERT Incidental Music from Rosamunde, D. 797
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72

January 11, 12, 13, and 16, 2001
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN/Liszt Andante cantabile from the Piano Trio in G-flat Major, Op. 97 (Archduke)
BEETHOVEN/Gielen Grosse Fuge in B-flat Major, Op. 133
SCHOENBERG Pelleas and Melisande, Op. 5

January 18, 20, and 23, 2001
MAHLER Adagio from Symphony No. 10
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Zoltán Kocsis, piano
KURTÁG . . . quasi una fantasia . . .
Zoltán Kocsis, piano
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)

January 17, 18, 29, and 22, 2002
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Elena Bashkirova, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

January 24, 25, 26, and 29, 2002
RAVEL Valses nobles et sentimentales
DUTILLEUX Symphony No. 2 (Le double)
Alex Klein, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Craig Morris, trumpet
Jay Friedman, trombone
Mary Sauer, piano
Melody Lord-Lundberg, celesta
Donald Koss, timpani
Samuel Magad, violin
Joseph Golan, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
John Sharp, cello
POULENC Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani in G Minor
David Schrader, organ
Donald Koss, timpani
RAVEL La valse

Happy, happy birthday!

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Australia 1988 logo

Sir Georg Solti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first trip to Australia in March 1988, sharing podium duties with Michael Tilson Thomas. The thirteen-concert tour included stops in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

Following the performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on the second concert of the tour, Peter Wombwell in the Perth Sunday Times described the performance “at the fingertips of one of the world’s greatest conductors, Sir Georg Solti, with, arguably, the finest of all orchestras, the Chicago Symphony. . . . In every section the commitment was ineffable and thus, while it is difficult to single out any particular players, one cannot but refer to the beauty of violin tone of the co-concertmaster Samuel Magad, the viola of Charles Pikler, and the oboe of Ray Still. . . .The growing quiet and calm of the finale was handled by Sir Georg with unfailing control so that this glorious memorial to a composer who enriched the turn-of-the-century music touched the hearts of all who were privileged to hear such an exceptional performance.”

Solti and the Orchestra onstage in Perth (Jim Steere photo)

Solti and the Orchestra onstage at the Perth Concert Hall (Jim Steere photo)

Several of the concerts included performances of Karel Husa’s Trumpet Concerto, which had received its world premiere in Chicago on February 11, just prior to the tour. Principal trumpet Adolph Herseth was soloist. The concerto was made possible by an endowment fund established by the family of Edward F. Schmidt in his memory, and it was dedicated to Herseth, Solti, and the Orchestra.

This article also appears here and portions previously appeared here.

Hindemith with viola

During the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-13 season, anonymous donors endowed in perpetuity the principal viola chair but requested some time to decide on how they wanted the chair to be named. After quite a bit of thought, the donors have decided upon “The Paul Hindemith Principal Viola Chair, endowed by an anonymous benefactor.”

On March 3 and 4, 1938, Paul Hindemith debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appearing as composer, conductor, and viola soloist. The concert opened with associate conductor Hans Lange leading Mozart’s Symphony no. 39 followed by Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher (subtitled Concerto on Old Folk Melodies) with the composer as soloist. After intermission, Lange returned to the podium for Hindemith’s Chamber Music no. 1, followed by the composer leading the U.S. premiere of his Symphonic Dances.

Hindemith's March 1938 program biography

Hindemith’s March 1938 program biography

In the Journal of Commerce, Claudia Cassidy described Hindemith’s Chamber Music no. 1 as “brilliant, witty, and spectacularly scored. Mr. Lange conducted and the orchestra turned in a glittering job, particularly in the introduction to the finale which has that kinetic energy at a boil.” She described Der Schwandendreher as having “no compassion for the poor viola player, taking for granted that he can handle the instrument as Mr. Hindemith does, which is nothing short of amazing.”

Hindemith had conducted the first performance of the Symphonic Dances only three months earlier, on December 3, 1937, in London. Eugene Stinson in the Chicago Daily News described the work as having “more unity, and it seems to me there is more thoughtfulness, in the Symphonic Dances than in almost all the other music Hindemith’s Chicago knows. At a first hearing it struck me as one of the most impressive and most affecting contemporary scores I can recall.”

Hindemith’s complete performance history with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is as follows:

March 3 and 4, 1938

March 3 and 4, 1938

March 3 and 5, 1938, Orchestra Hall
HINDEMITH Der Schwanendreher
Paul Hindemith, viola
Hans Lange, conductor
HINDEMITH Symphonic Dances
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 25, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
CHERUBINI Overture to Les Abencerages
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 27, 1961, Ravinia Festival
HINDEMITH Pittsburgh Symphony
MENDELSSOHN Fingal’s Cave Overture, Op. 26
SCHUBERT Symphony in C Major, D. 944
Paul Hindemith, conductor

July 29, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Gary Graffman, piano
HINDEMITH Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 38
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Paul Hindemith, conductor

March 28 and 29, 1963, Orchestra Hall
April 1, 1963, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 4 and 5, 1963, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
REGER Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 86
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
HINDEMITH Sinfonietta in E
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 6, 1963, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
REGER Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 86
BEETHOVEN Grosse Fuge in B flat Major, Op. 133
HINDEMITH Nobilissima visione
Paul Hindemith, conductor

April 7, 1963, Orchestra Hall (television concert)
HINDEMITH Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50
BRUCKNER Allegro moderato (first movement) from Symphony No. 7 in E Major
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Originally broadcast on WGN and currently available on a VAI DVD release.

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Charles Pikler, principal viola (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Charles Pikler, principal viola (Todd Rosenberg photo)

The principal viola chair currently is held by Charles Pikler, who joined the Orchestra as a violinist in 1978; and in 1986, Sir Georg Solti named Pikler principal viola.

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During January and February 1987, Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra embarked on a domestic tour with concerts in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; Bartlesville, Oklahoma; San Francisco, Costa Mesa, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles, California; Tempe, Arizona; and Austin, Houston, and Dallas, Texas.

Following the Wednesday evening (January 28) concert in Bartlesville, there were two free days before the next concert—an afternoon matinee—on Saturday at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. On Thursday afternoon, the Orchestra flew safely from Tulsa to San Francisco.

However, the majority of the cargo (including instruments, music, and clothing), traveling by trucks, did not arrive as planned. One truck was delayed due to a snowstorm as well as a flat tire, and a second truck was stopped by “agricultural inspectors at the Arizona-California border . . . for a routine check only to discover that the drivers didn’t have their paperwork in order.”

Clockwise from left: Samuel Magad, Solti, John Sharp, and Charles Pikler perform onstage at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on January 31, 1987

On Saturday afternoon (January 31) in hopes that the cargo would eventually arrive, an impromptu concert was arranged, with members of the Orchestra (who had traveled with their instruments) and Maestro Solti—making his U.S. concert debut as a pianist—performing chamber music. The concert began at about 3:15 p.m. and continued for nearly three hours. The program was as follows:

MOZART Clarinet Quartet in E-flat Major (after K. 380)
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
Nisanne Graff, violin
Richard Ferrin, viola
John Sharp, cello

SCHUBERT Allegro moderato (first movement) from Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor, D. 821
Charles Pikler, viola
Mary Sauer, piano

MOZART Allegretto (third movement) from Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-flat Major, K. 452
Michael Henoch, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Bruce Grainger, bassoon
Gail Williams, horn
Paul Hersh, piano

MOZART Rondo allegro (third movement) from Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478
Samuel Magad, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
John Sharp, cello
Sir Georg Solti, piano

By 6:00 p.m. the trucks still had not arrived. Borrowing instruments from the San Francisco Symphony, a local youth orchestra, and a violin shop, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took the stage in their street clothes, using music borrowed from the SFS’s music library. The original program was to include John Corigliano’s recently composed Clarinet Concerto (with Larry Combs as soloist). But since the only copies of the music for the concerto were still stranded on one of the cargo trucks, Mozart’s Haffner Symphony (no. 35) was performed instead.

The trucks finally arrived around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Solti and the Orchestra were able to rehearse as scheduled on Sunday afternoon and for the evening concert, Haydn’s Symphony no. 103 was replaced by the Corigliano concerto.

Several newspaper accounts documenting the incident are here and here.

Originally scheduled program for January 31, 1987

Originally scheduled program for February 1, 1987

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During Sir Georg Solti’s tenure as music director, more than seventy musicians—several of whom are still members—joined the roster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:

David Babcock, horn 1969–1971
Edwin Barker, bass 1976–1977
John Bartholomew, viola 1980–
J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet and bass clarinet 1980–
Ella Braker, violin 1976–2003
Loren Brown, cello 1985–
Catherine Brubaker, viola 1989–
Li-Kuo Chang, viola 1988–
David Chickering, cello 1978–1986
Roger Cline, bass 1973–
Timothy Cobb, bass 1985–1986
Larry Combs, clarinet and E-flat clarinet 1974–2008
Alison Dalton, violin 1987–
Franklyn D’Antonio, violin 1981–1986
Patricia Dash, percussion 1986–
Joseph DiBello, bass 1976–
Louise Dixon, flute 1973–
Fox Fehling, violin 1979–
Jorja Fleezanis, violin 1975–1976
Barbara Fraser, violin 1975–1996
Daniel Gingrich, horn 1976–
Rachel Goldstein, violin 1989–
Rubén González, violin 1986–1996
Bruce Grainger, bassoon 1986–1996
Jerry Grossman, cello 1984–1986
Tom Hall, violin 1970–2006
Laura Hamilton, violin 1985–1986
Erik Harris, bass 1989–1993
Michael Henoch, oboe 1972–
Marilyn Herring, librarian 1982–1997
Russell Hershow, violin 1989–
Richard Hirschl, cello 1989–
Michael Hovnanian, bass 1989–
Thomas Howell, horn 1971–1991
Nisanne Howell, violin 1976–
Albert Igolnikov, violin 1979–
Mihaela Ionescu, violin 1987–
Jacques Israelievitch, violin 1972–1978
Timothy Kent, trumpet 1979–1996
Mark Kraemer, bass 1974–
Melanie Kupchynsky, violin 1989–
Lee Lane, viola 1971–2009–
Stephen Lester, bass 1978–
Kathryn Lukas, flute 1985–1986
Elizabeth Matesky, violin 1972–1973
Blair Milton, violin 1975–
Diane Mues, viola 1987–
Michael Mulcahy, trombone 1990–
Joyce Noh, violin 1979–
Bradley Opland, bass 1984–
Daniel Orbach, viola 1988–
Nancy Park, violin 1984–
Jonathan Pegis, cello 1986–
Paul Phillips, violin 1980–
Charles Pikler, violin and viola 1978–
Gene Pokorny, tuba 1989–
Max Raimi, viola 1984–
James Ross, percussion 1979–
David Sanders, cello 1974–
Ronald Satkiewicz, violin 1979–
Florence Schwartz, violin 1989–
Norman Schweikert, horn 1971–1997
John Sharp, cello 1986–
Sando Shia, violin 1989–
Philip Smith, trumpet 1975–1978
Gregory Smith, clarinet 1983–
Gary Stucka, cello 1986–
Robert Swan, viola 1972–2008
Susan Synnestvedt, violin 1986–
David Taylor, violin 1979–
Charles Vernon, trombone and bass trombone 1986–
George Vosburgh, trumpet 1979–1993
Jennie Wagner, volin 1974–
Gail Williams, horn 1978–1998
Thomas Wright, viola 1981–
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet and E-flat clarinet 1977–

CSO roster - September 1969

CSO roster - June 1991

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Theodore Thomas

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