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On May 23, 2023, we commemorate the centennial of legendary Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha (1923–2009). Over the course of four decades, she was a frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and in Milwaukee. As a recitalist, she regularly appeared under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents between 1967 and 2001.

De Larrocha’s auspicious CSO and Carnegie Hall debuts occurred on November 8, 1966, when she performed one of her signature works, Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain under the baton of seventh music director Jean Martinon. “Miss de Larrocha is a marvel. Her playing has perfect finish, complete authority, and rhythmic suppleness,” wrote Harold C. Schonberg in the New York Times. “As a Spaniard, she brings special authority to the Falla work, that curious and attractive hybrid of Spanish feeling and French technique. . . . She is a wonderful pianist and more: she is an artist.”

“The diminutive pianist from Barcelona may be the youngest seventy-six-year-old virtuoso before the public,” according to John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune, following de Larrocha’s July 10, 1999, appearance with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival. “Her splendidly even fingering, rounded tone, pearly legato runs, and springy rhythmic articulations made her an ideal interpreter for Mozart’s sunny Piano Concerto no. 19 in F, K. 459. Everything was in the best of taste, nothing was overdone or excessively manicured, making this perfect midsummer Mozart.”

A complete list of Alicia de Larrocha’s appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below.

November 8, 1966, Carnegie Hall
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Jean Martinon, conductor

November 26, 1966, Orchestra Hall
MONTSALVATGE Concerto breve
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

October 3 and 4, 1968, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
István Kertész, conductor

August 11, 1973, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 29, 30, and May 1, 1976, Orchestra Hall
May 12, 1976, Carnegie Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 8, 1976, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
James Levine, conductor

August 10, 1978, Ravinia Festival
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
James Conlon, conductor

December 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1978, Orchestra Hall
December 18, 1978, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 10, 1981, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
James Levine, conductor

October 15, 16, 17, and 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Garcia Navarro, conductor

July 30, 1983, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Jesús López-Cobos, conductor

August 10, 1985, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

December 5, 6, and 7, 1985, Orchestra Hall
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

July 12, 1986, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
James Levine, conductor

July 16, 1988, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271 (Jeunehomme)
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor

August 10, 1989, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3, C Minor, Opus 37
Edo de Waart, conductor

August 12, 1989, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Edo de Waart, conductor

October 12, 13, and 14, 1989, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
David Zinman, conductor

July 28, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Gianluigi Gelmetti, conductor

August 2, 1991, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Marek Janowski, conductor

July 18, 1992, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
James Conlon, conductor

July 17, 1994, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

July 22, 1995, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

February 29, March 1, 2, 3, and 5, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Daniele Gatti, conductor

August 2, 1996, Ravinia Festival
FALLA Nights in the Garden of Spain
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 10, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

This article also appears here.

We have just received word that Rubén D’Artagnan González, a concertmaster with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1986 until 1996, died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 13, 2018, after a long illness. He was 79.

González began studying the violin at the age of five in his native Argentina. He became a student of Osvaldo Pessina in Buenos Aires, later completing his studies with Salomon Baron in France and Riccardo Brengola in Italy. First prize winner of the International Competition of Barcelona in 1965, González also received the silver medal at the Geneva Competition and the diploma of honor of the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy.

A former member of I Virtuosi di Roma, González was music director of the Camerata Bariloche, Argentina’s leading chamber orchestra, with which he toured extensively and recorded Martinů’s Concerto da camera for Philips. Other solo recordings included violin sonatas by Prokofiev and Honegger along with works by Ginastera.

González served as concertmaster of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, associate concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1977 until 1981, and later concertmaster of the Houston Symphony from 1981 until 1986, when he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to be one of two concertmasters (along with Samuel Magad) of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. González appeared on numerous recordings and as soloist with the Orchestra on several occasions, including Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Solti, Busoni’s Violin Concerto with James Paul, Chausson’s Poème and Haydn’s C major violin concerto under Erich Leinsdorf, Ginastera’s Violin Concerto with Dennis Russell Davies, Mozart’s D major Serenade under Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt, and Strauss’s Violin Concerto under Daniel Barenboim. In 1996, González resigned as concertmaster to continue his work as a conductor and composer.

As an educator, González served on the faculties of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, the University of Minnesota, Congress of Strings, and the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina. He was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Upon his resignation, González wrote to his colleagues, “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been the crowning of my career as an orchestral musician and concertmaster. I keep the Orchestra in my heart as the jewel of my music-making life. I am most grateful to all of you for your support, help, and friendship throughout these ten years.”

Services have been held.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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