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Between 1972 and 1981, Daniel Barenboim made a number of recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, returning to the label in 2003 for a release of piano concertos with Lang Lang.

A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Deutsche Grammophon is below (all recordings were made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Recorded March 26, 1977

BORODIN Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1977

BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3, and 10
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded March 3, 1979

Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in a recording session for Bruckner’s Psalm 150 in Orchestra Hall on March 3, 1979 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

BRUCKNER Psalm 150
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Ruth Welting, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 0 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 9, 10, and 13, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1981

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13 and 15, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November 1, 1972

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 6 and 7, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 6 and 9, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded March 28, 1981

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C Major, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

ELGAR Concerto for Violin in B Minor, Op. 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Recorded March 23 and 24, 1981
1982 Grammy Award: Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist

LISZT Les préludes
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Piano in G Minor, Op. 25
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Lang Lang, piano
Recorded February 24 and 25, 2003

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 7 and 10, 1979

MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bald Mountain
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

NICOLAI Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 (Organ)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Gaston Litaize, organ (recorded at the Cathédral Notre-Dame de Chartres, France)
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

SCHUMANN Konzertstück for Four Horns in F Major, Op. 86
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, Thomas Howell, and Norman Schweikert, horns
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

Barenboim leads CSO horns Norman Schweikert, Thomas Howell, Richard Oldberg, and Dale Clevenger in a recording session for Schumann’s Konzertstück in Orchestra Hall in March 1977 (Christian Steiner photo)

SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 28, 1975

SMETANA The Moldau from Má vlast
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27 and 28, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Concerto for Piano No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Lang Lang, piano
Recorded February 21 and 24, 2003

TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25 and 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

Arnold Jacobs, CSO principal tuba from 1944 until 1988

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Bass Tuba in F Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Arnold Jacobs, tuba
Recorded March 22, 1977

WEBER/Berlioz Invitation to the Dance, Op, 65
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

WEBER Overture to Oberon
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3 and 7, 1979

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Prior to his being announced as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director designate in February 1989, Daniel Barenboim shared the podium with Sir Georg Solti on the Orchestra’s second trip to Asia in March and April 1986.

March 31, 1986 – Musashino Shimin Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 2, 1986 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 12, 1986 – City Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 3, 1986 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 5, 1986 – Toyota City Cultural Hall, Toyota, Japan
April 11, 1986 – City Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Following the final April 3 concert, John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Before a raptly submissive crowd in the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, [Barenboim] invested the Schubert Unfinished and Beethoven Eroica symphonies with extraordinary beauty and interpretive depth. Again, it is important to stress how greatly the audience’s involvement in the music-making, as shown by their intense silence and concentration, added to the effort that conductor and players were willing to put forth. Solti, who is rarely in the audience at a Chicago Symphony concert back home, attended Barenboim’s concert in Hong Kong Friday night and applauded as loudly as those seated around him. . . . His Unfinished, taken very deliberately, with a dynamic scale that often sank to a faint whisper, breathed an almost mystical resignation. Barenboim’s Eroica was tauter and faster in the outer movements than before—all the better to draw bolder expressive extremes, with a more consciously molded Funeral March whose grief was sublimated into stoic nobility.”

Barenboim again shared conducting duties with Solti on the Orchestra’s third trip to Japan in April 1990.

Poster advertising Solti’s April 18 and Barenboim’s April 21, 1990, concerts at Symphony Hall in Osaka

April 20, 1990 – Shimin Kaikan, Nagoya, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 21, 1990 – Symphony Hall, Osaka, Japan
April 23, 1990 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 22, 1990 – Izumity Hall 21, Sendai, Japan
April 26, 1990 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 25, 1990 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
TAKEMITSU Visions
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole
RAVEL Pavane pour une infante défunte
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
RAVEL Boléro
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Daniel Barenboim (Don Getsug photo)

On November 15, 2017, Daniel Barenboim—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director—will celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. To commemorate this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles highlighting many of his activities with the Orchestra, including recordings, international tours, world and U.S. premieres, and more.

Barenboim’s history in Chicago began on January 19, 1958, when the fifteen-year-old pianist first performed a solo recital in Orchestra Hall. When he returned that fall for a second engagement, he attended his first CSO concert that included sixth music director Fritz Reiner leading Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. In his autobiography A Life in Music, Barenboim recounted that, “nothing I had heard in Europe or elsewhere had prepared me for the shock of the precision, the volume, and the intensity of the Chicago orchestra. It was like a perfect machine with a beating human heart.”

Fritz Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 30 and 31, 1958

In June 1965, Barenboim made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn, and in February 1969, he first appeared with the Orchestra in Orchestra Hall in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez. He first conducted the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, at Michigan State University, and the first work on the program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré; a week later, they recorded it in Medinah Temple.

In February 1989, it was announced that Daniel Barenboim would succeed Sir Georg Solti to become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, beginning in the 1991-92 season.

Stay tuned!

This article also appears here.

Illustration by Pam Rossi

After more than three years of planning, building, testing, and fine-tuning, Symphony Center—a $120 million project that included a facility expansion and extensive renovation of Orchestra Hall—opened its doors twenty years ago today, on October 4, 1997, with an opening night gala concert.

Led by acousticians Kirkegaard Associates and architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the project encompassed additions and improvements to Orchestra Hall, including raising the roof line for increased sound reverberation, replacing plaster walls, decreasing the width and increasing the depth of the stage, adding an extensive riser system, replacing all seats and adding terrace seating behind the stage, installing an acoustic canopy (to improve onstage ensemble conditions and sound reflection to the audience), and increasing patron amenity spaces. In addition, the project included new administrative offices in the former Chapin & Gore building; Buntrock Hall, a multipurpose rehearsal and performance space; renovation of a private club (formerly the home of the Cliff Dwellers); and a multistory arcade and rotunda. The following year brought the opening of a new restaurant (originally Rhapsody and now tesori) and an education center.

Opening a three-week inaugural festival, the October 4 gala concert featured Daniel Barenboim leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the complete program was as follows:

Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center (Jim Steere photo)

ELGAR Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (performed in memory of Sir Georg Solti)
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello, Act 1
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
VERDI Niun mi tema from Otello, Act 4
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Daniel Barenboim, piano
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
William Warfield, narrator
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Rosemarie Lang, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Moser, tenor
Matthias Hölle, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

Natyakalalayam Dance Company performing in Symphony Center’s rotunda on October 5, 1997 (Jeff Meacham photo)

Natyakalalayam Dance Company performing in Symphony Center’s rotunda on October 5, 1997 (Jeff Meacham photo)

Midnight marked the beginning of the first Marshall Field’s Day of Music: twenty-four hours of free, live performances of music across all genres in multiple Symphony Center venues, attended by more than 20,000 people. The festival also launched the newly renamed Symphony Center Presents series (formerly Allied Arts, begun by Harry Zelzer in the 1930s), with concerts by Barenboim, Itzhak PerlmanPinchas Zukerman, Maurizio Pollini, and the Emerson String Quartet, along with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Joe WilliamsOscar Peterson, Marcus Roberts Trio, and a tribute celebrating the eightieth-birthday anniversary of Thelonious Monk (led by his son Thelonious Monk, Jr.).

October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

Sadly, the many celebrations were bittersweet. Music director laureate Sir Georg Solti—who, during the festival would have celebrated not only his eighty-fifth birthday but also his 1,000th concert with the Orchestra—had unexpectedly died on September 5, 1997. A special, free memorial concert was added on October 22 that included Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde, followed by Mozart’s Requiem with Emily Magee, Anna Larsson, John Aler, René Pape, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. A celebration concert was given on October 25, with Barenboim conducting Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto (from the keyboard) and the Seventh Symphony.

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

Sir Georg Solti (Yousuf Karsh photo)

As the summer of 1997 drew to a close, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association was putting the finishing touches on Symphony Center, culminating a three-year, $120 million project. To celebrate the renovation of Orchestra Hall and facilities expansion, a three-week festival was planned that included gala concerts and the first Day of Music, twenty-four hours of free, live performances across all genres in multiple Symphony Center venues.

One of the gala concerts was scheduled for Saturday, October 25, with music director laureate Sir Georg Solti leading the Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program: the Seventh Symphony and the Emperor Piano Concerto with music director Daniel Barenboim as soloist. The concert would celebrate not only Solti’s 85th birthday (October 21, 1997) but also his 1,000th concert with the Orchestra. In November, he was scheduled to return for two weeks of subscription concerts, leading Ives’s Decoration Day, Schumann’s Symphony no. 3, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3, along with a full program of choruses from Wagner’s operas with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, to be recorded live by London.

Over the Labor Day holiday, the world had been rocked with the news of the tragic death of Princess Diana on Sunday, August 31. The day before her funeral on September 5, news outlets began to report the death of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. And late that same evening, we heard the unthinkable. While on holiday with his family in Antibes, France, Sir Georg Solti had taken ill and died peacefully in his sleep.

Michigan Avenue entrance of Orchestra Hall on September 6, 1997 (Marilyn Arado photo)

“I had just returned hours earlier from Europe, where I was working with Daniel Barenboim on Solti’s 85th birthday celebration concert,” remembered Martha Gilmer, former vice president for artistic planning. After confirming with Charles Kaye, Solti’s longtime assistant, she called Barenboim in Bayreuth, waking him to relay the news.

“I was stunned,” recalled Henry Fogel, then president of the CSO Association. The following morning, senior staff held a meeting to determine how to proceed with the plans for the festival, among several other issues. As some of them approached the entrance, “We were very touched because when we came to Orchestra Hall, one person had left a bouquet of flowers at the Michigan Avenue entrance.”

Daniel Barenboim leads Mozart’s Requiem on October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

The festival would continue mostly as planned. The Symphony Center inaugural gala opened with Barenboim leading a performance of Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, performed in Solti’s memory. A special, free memorial concert was added on October 22 with Barenboim leading Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde, followed by Mozart’s Requiem with Emily Magee, Anna Larsson, John Aler, René Pape, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, prepared by Duain Wolfe.

Richard L. Thomas receives one of Solti’s batons from Lady Valerie Solti on October 25, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

The program for the celebration concert on October 25 changed slightly, and Barenboim led Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto from the keyboard along with the Seventh Symphony. At the beginning of the concert, Lady Valerie Solti presented Richard L. Thomas (chairman of the CSO Association from 1986 until 1991) with one of Solti’s batons.

A special commemorative program book for the memorial and celebration concerts was prepared, and it included tributes from President Bill Clinton, Illinois governor Jim Edgar, and Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, along with Solti’s colleagues from all over the world, members of the Orchestra, and administrative staff. The program book is available here.

The block of Adams Street between Michigan and Wabash avenues was named honorary Sir Georg Solti Place on October 24, 1997. The following spring (just before the beginning of the fifteenth European tour with concerts in Paris and Berlin), a small contingent of Orchestra family traveled to Budapest for a ceremony on March 28, 1998, in which Solti’s ashes were interred next to the grave of his teacher, Béla Bartók. During the ceremony, principal viola Charles Pikler performed Ravel’s Kaddish.

Fogel continued, “One thought that I did keep having was how sad it was that Maestro Solti would never see the renovated hall, with which I believe he would have been thrilled.”

“Solti, so vibrant, such energy, such magnetism, such a life force,” added Gilmer. “It was impossible to believe that it ended so quietly and in a place so far away. . . . He was a young 84-year-old and what occurred to all of us is that we had all been robbed of wonderful musical memories that were yet to be made.”

Decca Classics is releasing a 108-CD set of Sir Georg Solti’s entire catalog with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the United States on September 15, 2017. It can be pre-ordered here.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded each of Brahms’s four symphonies multiple times and also has recorded the complete cycle on three different occasions. A complete listing is below.

During his tenure as Ravinia Festival music director, James Levine recorded the symphonies with the Orchestra for RCA at Medinah Temple. The recordings were produced by Thomas Z. Shepard and Paul Goodman was the recording engineer. Jay David Saks also co-produced the First Symphony, which was recorded in July 1975. The remaining three were recorded in July 1976.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti also led the Orchestra in sessions at Medinah Temple. For London, the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures) were produced by James Mallinson; Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The Third and Fourth symphonies were recorded in May 1978, and the First and Second were recorded in January 1979. The set won 1979 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Orchestral Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures and the Variations on a Theme by Haydn) live at Orchestra Hall for Erato. Vic Muenzer was producer, Lawrence Rock was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Konrad Strauss was the mastering engineer. All four symphonies were recorded live in 1993: the First and Third in May, the Fourth in September, and the Second in October.

Recordings of the individual symphonies by other conductors are listed below.

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Rafael Kubelík, conductor
Recorded by Mercury in Orchestra Hall in April 1952
David Hall, recording director
C. Robert Fine and George Piros engineers

Günter Wand, conductor
Recorded live for RCA in Orchestra Hall in January 1989
Norman Pellegrini and David Frost, producers
Mitchell Heller, recording engineer
John Purcell, post-production engineer

Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90

Frederick Stock, conductor
Recorded by Columbia in New York’s Liederkranz Hall in November 1940

Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall in December 1957
Richard Mohr, producer

Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel in Medinah Temple in October 1969
Peter Andry, producer
Carson Taylor, balance engineer

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Brahms’s four symphonies at Orchestra Hall in May. Details here and here.

Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

Wishing the happiest of (slightly belated) birthdays to the remarkable American bass Samuel Ramey, who celebrated his seventh-fifth on March 28!

The legendary singer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981

November 1, 2, and 4, 1984
MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Ruggero Raimondi, bass
Zehava Gal, mezzo-soprano
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Jennifer Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Langridge, tenor
Hartmut Welker, baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
Kaludi Kaludov, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Sergei Kopchak, bass
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
Bradley Nystrom, bass-baritone
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Dale Prest, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

November 16, 1986
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Ramey, Samuel; bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Gwynne Howell originally was scheduled to perform the bass part but canceled due to illness. He was replaced by Bonaldo Giaiotti on November 13 and 14 and Ramey on November 16.

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

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

October 6, 1990 (Centennial Gala)
BEETHOVEN Finale: Ode, “To Joy” from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

July 8, 2000 (Ravinia Fesitval)
Selections by Copland, Leigh, Loewe, Mozart, Rodgers, and Verdi
Miguel-Harth Bedoya, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Samuel Ramey, bass

July 2, 2005 (Ravinia Festival)
IBERT Chansons de Don Quichotte
RAVEL Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
James Conlon, conductor

August 15, and 17, 2008 (Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Don Giovanni, K. 527
James Conlon, conductor
Ellie Dehn, soprano
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Toby Spence, tenor
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, bass-baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
James Creswell, bass
Morris Robinson, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago
Stephen Alltop, director

Happy, happy birthday!

Riccardo Muti (Todd Rosenberg photo)

A recent Gramophone magazine article lists its fifty greatest conductors of all time, and several Chicago Symphony Orchestra titled conductors are prominently featured!

Current music director Riccardo Muti and former music directors Daniel BarenboimRafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, and Sir Georg Solti are squarely included, along with principal guest conductors Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, and Carlo Maria Giulini; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and Seiji Ozawa.

According to the article, “A great conductor illuminates music you thought you knew in a way that you couldn’t possibly have imagined.” Indeed.

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to the extraordinary violinist Gidon Kremer!

Gidon Kremer (Michael Benabib photo)

Gidon Kremer (Michael Benabib photo)

A frequent and favorite soloist in Chicago, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour, Kremer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, as follows:

November 26, 28, and 29, 1980, in Orchestra Hall
BERG Violin Concerto
Varujan Kojian, conductor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1992, in Orchestra Hall
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 2 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 129
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 13, 14, and 15, 1994, in Orchestra Hall
BERG Violin Concerto
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

August 12, 1994, at the Ravinia Festival
GLASS Violin Concerto
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

May 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1997, in Orchestra Hall
June 4 and 5, 1997, at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany
REIMANN Violin Concerto (world premiere)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Gidon Kremer (Alberts Linarts photo)

Gidon Kremer (Alberts Linarts photo)

October 21, 22, 23, adn 24, 1998, in Orchestra Hall
KANCHELI Lament (Music of Mourning in Memory of Luigi Nono)
Katharina Kammerloher, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 5, 6, and 7, 2005, in Orchestra Hall
SCHNITTKE Concerto grosso No. 6
SCHNITTKE Concerto grosso No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Kremer also has performed in Orchestra Hall on several other occasions, as a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and the Staatskapelle Berlin with Daniel Barenboim. As a chamber musician, he has appeared many times with his ensemble Kremerata Baltica, most recently on February 1, 2017.

Happy, happy birthday!

thomas-at-desk

Theodore Thomas, the Chicago Orchestra‘s first music director, died on January 4, 1905. For many years after, the Orchestra would dedicate the first concerts of the new year to his memory, frequently performing works closely associated with their founder. We continue that tradition on this week’s radio broadcast, as Frank Villella, director of the CSO’s Rosenthal Archives, co-hosts a retrospective of works that Thomas introduced to audiences in the United States, both with the Chicago Orchestra and other ensembles.

barenboim-brahms-5-erato

BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded by Erato in Orchestra Hall, September 1993

In 1879, the University of Breslau in Poland bestowed upon Johannes Brahms an honorary doctorate, and to show his appreciation, he composed the Academic Festival Overture the following summer. The composer himself led the first public performance at the university in January 1881, and later that year on November 29, Thomas led the U.S. premiere in New York.

Daniel Barenboim, early in his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded Brahms’s complete symphonies, along with the Tragic Overture, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the Academic Festival Overture, all for Erato Records.

wagner-prelude-and-liebestod

WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Artur Rodzinski, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, December 1947

In the nineteenth century, Thomas was Richard Wagner’s greatest advocate in the United States, both before and after he founded the Chicago Orchestra. During his fourteen seasons as music director, he programmed Wagner’s music on nearly half of his concerts, both in Chicago and with the Orchestra on tour. Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of the Prelude from Tristan and Isolde in New York on February 10, 1866, less than a year after the opera’s first complete performances in Munich; and he also gave the first U.S. performance of the Prelude paired with the Liebestod in Boston on December 6, 1871. Thomas programmed these two works together fifteen times on subscription concerts during his tenure as music director.

Artur Rodzinski was the Orchestra’s fourth music director for only one season (1947–48). One of his great successes was a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in November 1947, featuring soprano Kirsten Flagstad in her first operatic appearance in the United States since the end of World War II. The legendary Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy called the performance “the dawn of a new operatic day in Chicago.” A month later, Rodzinski and the Orchestra recorded the Prelude and Liebestod for RCA.

elgar-enigma

ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London in Medinah Temple, May 1974

Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations with the Chicago Orchestra on January 3, 1902, and it was such a crowd-pleaser that he programmed it a second time later that season. A few years later in April 1907, second music director Frederick Stock invited the composer himself to lead several of his works, including In the South, the first Pomp and Circumstance March, and the Enigma Variations. The Chicago Tribune reported that, “The men of the Orchestra gave him their closest attention and heartiest sympathy yesterday, and the result was a performance of the three compositions which was technically and tonally of highest worth. Sir Edward himself seemed genuinely pleased and his assertion after the concert that the ‘work of the Orchestra surpassed all his fondest expectations’ evidently was the expression of his true feeling.”

Sir Georg Solti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director, recorded the Enigma Variations on May 15, 1974, at Medinah Temple for London Records.

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STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, March 1954

During the summer of 1883, Thomas visited Europe and according to his Memoirs—edited by his widow, Rose Fay Thomas—the conductor, “had met, in Munich, a young and almost unknown composer, one Richard Strauss, who has recently finished writing a symphony. Thomas secured the first movement of the work, and was so much impressed with it that he requested young Strauss to let him have the other movements, promising to bring out the whole work in a concert of the Philharmonic Society.” Thomas kept that promise and in New York in December 1884, he led the world premiere of the Second Symphony in F minor—the first music of Richard Strauss to be performed in the United States. Strauss would later send new scores, and Thomas introduced several works to the United States with the Orchestra, including Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, along with Ein Heldenleben, first performed in Chicago on March 9, 1900.

Near the end of his first season as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner made his first recordings with the Orchestra for RCA. In Orchestra Hall on March 6, 1954, they recorded Strauss’s Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Ein Heldenleben, with violin solos performed by then-concertmaster John Weicher. Reiner’s CSO recordings of music by Strauss have never been out of print, and in 2013, Sony re-issued Reiner’s complete CSO catalog on RCA, a boxed set of sixty-three CDs.

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TCHAIKOVSKY Final Waltz and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker, Op. 71
Morton Gould, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall, January 1966

Thomas gave the U.S. premiere of a suite from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker on October 22, 1892, on the first concert of the Orchestra’s second season. The program note described Tchaikovsky as the “composer, who, in his fifth symphony, has led us into the highest realms of art and stirred our very soul,” and the note described the selections from the ballet as “miniature pictures painted with infinite grace and care,” showing the composer, “in one of his playful and trifling moods.”

Morton Gould, a frequent guest conductor on Popular concerts in the 1960s, recorded selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker at Orchestra Hall on January 31, 1966, for RCA. A six-disc set of Gould’s complete recordings with the Orchestra was released by Sony in February 2016.

In May 2016, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrated 100 years of recording.

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Theodore Thomas

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Maestro Riccardo Muti and the CSO last night at Palm Desert’s McCallum Theatre. The program included works Schubert, Schumann, and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major performed by CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson. The link to the CSO's tour schedule is in our bio. Photos by @toddrphoto. #CSOonTour

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