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John Aler (Jack Mitchell photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of American tenor John Aler, who died on December 10, 2022. He was seventy-three.

A four-time Grammy Award winner, Aler was a frequent guest with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, both in Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his appearances and recordings with the Orchestra and Chorus is below.

February 13, 14, and 16, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BRITTEN War Requiem, Op. 66
Margaret Marshall, soprano
John Aler, tenor
Benjamin Luxon, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, conductor
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 14, 1986, Ravinia Festival
LISZT A Faust Symphony
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Conlon, conductor

December 12 and 17, 1991, Orchestra Hall
BARTOK Cantata profana
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon. Paired with Bartók’s The Wooden Prince, the release won four Grammy awards—Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Engineered Recording–Classical—from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

January 16, 17, 18, and February 14, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Renée Fleming, soprano (January 16, 17, and 18)
Margaret Jane Wray, soprano (February 14)
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Peter Rose, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 29, 30, May 1, and 4, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Tina Kiberg, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Robert Holl, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live in Orchestra Hall for Erato.

October 22, 1997, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Emily Magee, soprano
Anna Larsson, contralto
John Aler, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
The second half of a concert given in memory of Sir Georg Solti, who died on September 5, 1997

August 14, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Dies Bildnis is bezaubernd schön from The Magic Flute, K. 620
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
A portion of a concert—called A Galaxy of Stars—presented to benefit Ravinia’s outreach programs

July 23, 2010, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN/Mauceri Vocal Suite from Candide
Cunegonde Anna Christy, soprano
Old Lady Kim Criswell, vocalist
Candide Nicholas Phan, tenor
Maximilian Jonathan Beyer, baritone
Governor/Vanderdendur John Aler, tenor
Paquette Kathryn Leemhuis, mezzo-soprano
Lakeside Singers
Robert Bowker, director
John Axelrod, conductor

August 6 and 8, 2010, Ravinia Festival
MOZART The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Figaro John Relyea, bass-baritone
Countess Almaviva Ailyn Pérez, soprano
Bartolo Richard Bernstein, bass
Susanna Lisette Oropesa, soprano
Marcellina Jane Bunnell, mezzo-soprano
Cherubino Lauren McNeese, mezzo-soprano
Count Almaviva Nathan Gunn, baritone
Basilio John Aler, tenor
Antonio Paul Corona, bass
Don Curzio Rodell Rosel, tenor
Barbarina Lei Xu, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
James Conlon, conductor

Daniel Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in Mozart’s Requiem in memory of Sir Georg Solti on October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

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Jonathan Pegis in 2010 (© Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of Jonathan Pegis, who served as a member of the cello section from 1986 until 2018. He died yesterday of natural causes, at home in Waterloo, Iowa. Pegis was sixty-one.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jon Pegis, a very kind person and a wonderful player,” commented Riccardo Muti. “I will remember him and his wonderful contribution to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

Born in Rochester, New York on May 7, 1960, Jonathan Pegis gave new meaning to the phrase “born into a musical family.” He was one of seven children, all whom played string instruments. Pegis began his studies at the Eastman School of Music’s Preparatory Department, where his first teacher was Alan Harris; he also studied with Lee Fiser, Paul Katz, and Lynn Harrell. Pegis completed undergraduate studies at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. While there, he joined the LaSalle Quartet and viola Donald McInnes on chamber music tours of the United States and Germany. Their 1982 recording of Schoenberg’s string sextet Transfigured Night for Deutsche Grammophon later received Japan’s Tokyo Record Academy prize.

Pegis returned to Rochester in 1984 to become a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and to attend Eastman, where he earned a master’s degree and a performer’s certificate. In 1986, he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section, a post he held until his retirement in 2018. During his tenure, he frequently performed in chamber music, including concerts on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series and the Northwestern University Winter Chamber Music Festival. He also appeared as soloist at Chicago Cello Society concerts, with the Texas Chamber Orchestra, Highland Park Strings, and the Signature Symphony in Tulsa. In 1993, Pegis joined the faculty at Northwestern University, where taught cello orchestral studies until 2012. He also was a regular contributor to the cellobello.org blog.

Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night was recorded in 1982 for Deutsche Grammophon by the LaSalle Quartet along with viola Donald McInnes and cello Jonathan Pegis.

When he announced his retirement, Pegis expressed, “What a pleasure and memorable journey it has been to be a part of this tremendous organization for over thirty years. A dream come true! These few words are inadequate to express the privilege it has been to share with such an outstanding organization, exceptional colleagues—musicians and staff. I am most grateful for the lifetime of experiences and memories that we made throughout the world!”

Pegis is survived by his wife Dawn, along with sons Michael and Jason from his previous marriage to Lisa Rensberger. Services are pending, and in lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorial gifts to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

This article also appears here.

Richard Oldberg in the early 1960s

We have just learned of the passing of Richard Oldberg, a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section, who died in Estes Park, Colorado on December 27, 2021. He was eighty-three.

Born on June 21, 1938, in Evanston, Illinois, Oldberg began his horn studies in the public school system and received instruction from Charles Zweigler and later Max Pottag (CSO horn, 1907–1946). He attended the summer music programs at Interlochen Arts Camp, and he later attended Harvard and Northwestern universities, where he studied with two CSO principal horns, Philip Farkas and Christopher Leuba. A lip injury temporarily forced him to give up the horn, and he briefly turned to premedical studies. However, in January 1962, with encouragement from Leuba, Oldberg was invited to perform as an extra horn with the CSO. He continued to work as a regular substitute and was invited by new music director Jean Martinon to join the Orchestra as assistant principal horn beginning with the 1963–64 season. Following the departure of Wayne Barrington the following season, Oldberg moved to third horn, remaining in that position for the next twenty-nine years until his retirement in 1993.

Oldberg was a frequent soloist with the Orchestra and appeared in Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto with Irwin Hoffman conducting, as well as Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns on numerous occasions under Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Michael Morgan, and Sir Georg Solti. In March 1977, Oldberg—along with his colleagues Dale Clevenger, Norman Schweikert, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in a recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück under Barenboim’s baton for Deutsche Grammophon.

His grandfather, Arne Oldberg, was a prominent composer, pianist, and educator, serving on the faculty at Northwestern University from 1897 until 1941. Between 1909 and 1954, the CSO gave the world premieres of sixteen of his works, including his Third, Fourth, and Fifth symphonies and a violin concerto. One of Arne’s sons (and Richard’s uncle), Eric Oldberg, was a prominent neurosurgeon in Chicago, and he served as president of the Orchestral Association from 1952 until 1963 and later as a life trustee. Eric presided over the appointment of both Fritz Reiner as sixth music director in 1953 and Margaret Hillis as founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1957.

A dedicated educator, Richard Oldberg served on the faculty at Northwestern University for many years. After leaving Chicago, he was principal horn and guest conductor with the Boulder Philharmonic in Colorado, regularly leading their annual performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet. In his retirement, he enjoyed his longtime hobbies of book collecting (mostly Sherlock Holmes and mountaineering), model railroads, and hand-copying the scores of Richard Wagner’s operas. He and his wife Mary were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

In a July 1989 interview for the CSO’s Oral History Project, Oldberg reflected on his time in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “I’ve had a grand time. I’m the luckiest person on the face of the earth. Like Lou Gehrig said, I’m doing what I want to do. This isn’t work, this is fun, and I’m having a wonderful time doing it, playing the music that we play, and so, I’m a very happy fellow as a result.”

Richard Oldberg’s wife Mary preceded him in death in 2019. He is survived by his son David from a previous marriage.

This article also appears here.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the remarkable Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini!

Maurizio Pollini (© Mathias Bothor for Deutsche Grammophon)

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago for more than fifty years, Pollini has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in recital on numerous occasions, in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Milwaukee.

Following Pollini’s debut in Orchestra Hall in January 1971, Thomas Willis commented in the Chicago Tribune that he had “been literally pulled forward in my seat by [the] pianist’s bravura . . . last night when Maurizio Pollini charged the climactic repeated octaves in Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto. The speed and power of that single passage—no more than, say, fifteen seconds long—broke the piano’s sound barrier for me. Until I heard this virtuoso do it, I would never have believed that alternating octaves could be played so fast and so loud on any concert piano. . . . This one could be the star shaker.”

A complete list of Pollini’s appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to date is below.

July 5, 1969, Ravinia Festival
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

June 27, 1970, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

January 21, 22, and 23, 1971, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Claudio Abbado, conductor

February 21, 22, and 23, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Claudio Abbado, conductor

February 10 and 11, 1977, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979
Gramophone Award for Concerto

February 17, 18, and 20, 1977, Orchestra Hall
February 21, 1977, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979
Gramophone Award for Concerto

April 5, 6, and 7, 1979, Orchestra Hall
April 9, 1979, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor

March 19, 20, and 21, 1981, Orchestra Hall
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 3, 4, and 5, 1983, Orchestra Hall
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Claudio Abbado, conductor

March 31, April 1, 2, and 5, 1988, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Claudio Abbado, conductor

October 23 and 24, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 21, 2000, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 25, 26, and 27, 2013, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Riccardo Muti, conductor

For his February 1982 recital debut in Orchestra Hall, Pollini gave a program of works by Schubert and Chopin. “Nor could you hope to hear every note, every chord, every structural detail of [Chopin’s] B minor sonata rendered with more breathtaking accuracy or digital strength,” commented John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy was “a meeting of mind and music that illuminated the inner workings [and placed] everything in his technical and musical arsenal at the music’s disposal. . . . His view understood, as Schubert did, the eloquence that can reside in lyrical simplicity.”

Dates for Pollini’s numerous recitals in Orchestra Hall—given under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents—are below.

Maurizio Pollini (Erich Auerbach)

February 28, 1982
March 11, 1984
April 1, 1987
March 27, 1988
March 18, 1990
March 15, 1992
March 21, 1993
October 12, 1997
October 25, 1998
October 7, 2000
May 5, 2002
October 31, 2004
May 14, 2006
May 6, 2007
October 12, 2008
April 11, 2010
October 26, 2014
October 4, 2015
May 28, 2017
April 22, 2018

Happy, happy birthday!

Sir Georg Solti and Margaret Hillis show off their 1986 Grammy Awards for Liszt’s A Faust Symphony and Orff’s Carmina burana. (Jim Steere)

During her 37 years as director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Margaret Hillis prepared her ensemble for many recordings—including nine Grammy Award winners—with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the Erato, Deutsche Grammophon, London, and RCA labels. A sample of some of those iconic records is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Felicity Lott soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz tenor
William Shimell baritone
Gwynne Howell bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1990
 
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter mezzo-soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson tenor
Tom Krause bass
Hans Peter Blochwitz tenor
Olaf Bär baritone
Richard Cohn baritone
Patrice Michaels soprano
Debra Austin mezzo-soprano
William Watson tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1987
London

BARBER 
The Lovers
Dale Duesing baritone
BARBER Prayers of Kierkegaard
Sarah Reese soprano
Andrew Schenk conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director

BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Lucia Popp soprano
Yvonne Minton mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker tenor
Gwynne Howell bass
Victor Aitay violin
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1977
London

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Fritz Reiner conductor
Phyllis Curtin soprano
Florence Kopleff contralto
John McCollum tenor
Donald Gramm bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1961
RCA

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Jessye Norman soprano
Reinhild Runkel mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk tenor
Hans Sotin bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1986
London

BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Frederica von Stade mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel tenor
José van Dam baritone
Malcolm King bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1981
London

BRAHMS 
A German Requiem, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Janet Williams soprano
Thomas Hampson baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1992
Erato

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1979
Deutsche Grammophon

BRUCKNER Psalm 150

Daniel Barenboim conductor
Ruth Welting soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1979
Deutsche Grammophon

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 in Orchestra Hall in 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

DOWNS Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1986
London

HANDEL 
Messiah
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Elizabeth Hynes soprano
Anne Gjevang contralto
Keith Lewis tenor
Gwynne Howell bass
David Schrader harpsichord
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1984
London

HAYDN The Seasons
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Ruth Ziesak soprano
Uwe Heilmann tenor
René Pape bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1992
London

HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Norma Burrowes soprano
Sylvia Greenberg soprano
Rüdiger Wohlers tenor
Siegmund Nimsgern bass-baritone
James Morris bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1984
London

IVES Orchestral Set No. 2
Morton Gould conductor
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Robert Schweitzer assistant director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1967
RCA

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor 
(Resurrection)
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Isobel Buchanan soprano
Mira Zakai mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1980
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
 (Resurrection)
Claudio Abbado conductor
Carol Neblett soprano
Marilyn Horne mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1976
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Alexander Nevsky

Fritz Reiner conductor
Rosalind Elias mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1959
RCA

SMITH/Stock The Star-Spangled Banner

Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1986
London

VERDI Opera Choruses
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Terry Edwards guest chorus director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1989
London

VERDI 
Four Sacred Pieces
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Jo Ann Pickens soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1977-78
London

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Sir Georg Solti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a recording session for Mahler’s Symphony no. 3 in Orchestra Hall in November 1982 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

During his tenure as principal trumpet, Adolph “Bud” Herseth and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded an astonishing number of works, under five music directors and numerous guest conductors for Angel, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, London, Mercury, and RCA. A sample of some of those iconic records is below.

BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Recorded in Krannert Center, University of Illinois in May 1972
London

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in November 1972
Deutsche Grammophon

DEBUSSY Nocturnes
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January 1990
London

HANDEL The trumpet shall sound from Messiah
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Gwynne Howell bass-baritone
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 1984
London

JANÁČEK Sinfonietta
Seiji Ozawa conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in Jun 1970
Angel

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Carlo Maria Giulini conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple March 1971
Angel

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Helga Dernesch mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1982
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Georg Solti conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in March 1970
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 7
Claudio Abbado conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January and February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

NIELSEN Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 (The Four Temperaments)
Morton Gould conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 1966
RCA

PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1957
RCA

RESPIGHI Pines of Rome
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 1959
RCA

ROSSINI Overture to William Tell
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1958
RCA

SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54
Pierre Boulez conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in November 1995
Deutsche Grammophon

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
André Previn conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in January 1977
EMI

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 (Leningrad)
Leonard Bernstein conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 1988
Deutsche Grammophon

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

STRAVINSKY Song of the Nightingale 
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1956
RCA

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Rafael Kubelík conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1951
Mercury

VARÈSE Arcana
Jean Martinon conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1966
RCA

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Willard Elliot in the early 1990s (Jim Steere photo)

For more than thirty years, Willard Elliot (1926-2000) was the foundation of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s wind section. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he studied piano and clarinet before switching to the bassoon at the age of fourteen, even though he wanted to play the instrument much sooner. According to his widow, Patricia, “He was waiting until he was big enough to play the bassoon.” Elliot earned a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University, and, at the age of nineteen, he completed a master’s degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music. He spent three years with the Houston Symphony and eleven years as principal bassoon with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to performing with the Fourth Army Band at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. In 1964, Elliot was hired by seventh music director Jean Martinon as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal bassoon.

As a composer, Elliot was co-winner of the 1961 Koussevitzky Foundation Award for his Elegy for Orchestra. Under Seiji Ozawa, he was soloist with the CSO in the world premiere of his Concerto for Bassoon, first performed at the Ravinia Festival on June 27, 1965; and Richard Graef was soloist in The Snake Charmer (Concerto for Alto Flute and Orchestra), first performed on Youth Concerts on January 7, 1976, under the baton of then–associate conductor Henry Mazer. Elliot also composed two symphonies; arrangements of works by Glinka, Granados, Grieg, Mozart, Ravel, Scriabin, and Weber; along with numerous chamber works for a variety of instrument combinations.

During his thirty-three-year tenure, Elliot performed as a soloist under Claudio Abbado, Lawrence Foster, Carlo Maria Giulini, Morton Gould, Antonio Janigro, Martinon, and Sir Georg Solti. On March 19, 1966, he was a soloist—along with his colleagues Clark Brody, Dale Clevenger, Jay Friedman, Adolph Herseth, Donald Koss, Donald Peck, and Ray Still—in recording sessions for Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra for RCA under Martinon’s baton. On February 4, 1984, Elliot recorded Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with Abbado conducting for Deutsche Grammophon.


As an educator, Elliot taught at the University of North Texas and DePaul and Northwestern universities, and he also coached the Civic Orchestra of Chicago‘s bassoon section. Following his retirement from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1996, Elliot and his wife moved to Fort Worth to teach music at Texas Christian University and give master classes around the country. They also continued their work with Bruyere Music Publishers (founded in 1986), preparing his compositions and arrangements for publication.

“When I joined the CSO in 1992, Willard was nearing the end of a long performing career. I was very aware of being a different generation from Willard, but he was very collegial from the first time we worked together,” commented William Buchman, assistant principal bassoon. “He encouraged me to play with real gusto and engagement. It made me feel like my contributions to the Orchestra’s sound were important.”

“Willard Elliot was a fascinating man and wonderful musician,” according to John Bruce Yeh, assistant principal clarinet. He was “a true renaissance musician: arranger, composer, educator, as well as orchestral bassoonist par excellence.” Elliot and Yeh were both founding members of the Chicago Symphony Winds, and together they toured and recorded Elliot’s transcription of Grieg’s Four Lyric Pieces as well as Mozart’s Serenade in E-flat major, K. 375, both for the Sheffield Lab label.

Willard Elliot in 1970 (Zeloof-Stuart Photography)

“In 1979, I formed Chicago Pro Musica,” Yeh continued, and “Willard and I were pleased to explore a wide range of chamber music with our CSO colleagues and guests.” In 1983, the ensemble recorded Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale along with Elliot’s arrangement of Scriabin’s Waltz in A-flat major for their debut on Reference Recordings. “Willard loved the music of Scriabin and the composer’s exotic harmonies. Those of us in the CSO woodwind section to this day fondly remember some of the inspired little signature harmonic touches Willard would inject into standard repertoire, a small alteration that only those close by would be able to hear during a rehearsal, for example. He would always liven things up that way.” The ensemble won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best New Classical Artist.

“Willard was always an upbeat man with a smile on his face,” remembered Michael Henoch, assistant principal oboe. “He was, of course, a marvelous musician, a consummate master of the bassoon, but he had many other interests including geology, gardening, and researching his family’s genealogy. . . . He had a huge presence in the CSO woodwind section, and I was honored to perform with him. Over the years, I also played many chamber music concerts with him in the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, Chicago Pro Musica, and the Chicago Chamber Musicians.  We played many of his own compositions and arrangements, all crafted with a high degree of professionalism.”

“I remember being aware that Willard was always so well-prepared and enthusiastic. He had played just about every piece at least once before, and he had a photographic memory of all of his previous performances,” added Buchman. “He also was remarkably organized with his reeds. He had a journal in which he kept notes about every reed he made and used, including what pieces he had used each reed for. . . . He adjusted well to retirement, though, and he kindly bestowed upon me a couple of large boxes of reed cane he had been storing for decades. I still have some of it today!”

Willard Elliot’s Two Sketches for Woodwind Quintet—performed by Jennifer Gunn, Michael Henoch, John Bruce Yeh, William Buchman, and Oto Carrillo—can be heard on CSO Sessions Episode 19, available on CSOtv from May 6 until June 4, 2021.

Elliot also can be heard as part of the continuo in the January 1990 London recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, under the baton of Sir Georg Solti and featured on the May 11, 2021, From the CSO’s Archives: The First 130 Years radio broadcast.

Duain Wolfe in 2013 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to Duain Wolfe, Grammy Award–winning chorus director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus!

In 1994, ninth music director Daniel Barenboim appointed Wolfe to succeed Margaret Hillis, founder and first director of the Chorus. Since then, he has prepared the ensemble for over 150 programs for concerts in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Carnegie Hall, and Berlin’s Philharmonie. Wolfe’s activities have earned him an honorary doctorate and numerous awards, including the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.

Wolfe also has prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for numerous commercial recordings, and a complete list is below.

BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1994 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and produced by Karl-August Naegler, Rainer Maillard was the balance engineer, Stephan Flock and Hans-Rudolf Müller were the recording engineers, and Stephan Flock and Rainer Maillard were the editors.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sergej Aleksashkin, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1995 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, John Dunkerley and Andy Groves were the recording engineers, and Nigel Gayler was the recoding editor.

ROUGET DE L’ISLE/Berlioz La Marseillaise
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
The Orchestra and Chorus were recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 1995; Domingo was later recorded at the Hochschule für Musik Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. For Teldec, the album was executive produced by Nikolaus Deckenbrock and produced by Martin Fouqué, Ulrich Ruscher was the recording engineer, Jens Schünemann and Paul Nedel were assistant engineers, and Andreas Florcak and Stefan Witzel were digital editors.

WAGNER Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Eva Karita Mattila, soprano
Magdalene Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano
Walther von Stolzing Ben Heppner, tenor
David Herbert Lippert, tenor
Hans Sachs José van Dam, bass-baritone
Veit Pogner René Pape, bass
Sixtus Beckmesser Alan Opie, baritone
Kunz Vogelgesang Roberto Saccà, tenor
Konrad Nachtigall Gary Martin, baritone
Fritz Kothner Albert Dohmen, bass-baritone
Balthasar Zorn John Horton Murray, tenor
Ulrich Eisslinger Richard Byrne, baritone
Augustin Moser Steven Tharp, tenor
Hermann Ortel Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
Hans Schwarz Stephen Morscheck, bass-baritone
Hans Foltz, Ein Nachtwächter Kelly Anderson, baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 1995 for London Records. The recording was produced by Michael Woolcock; James Lock, John Pellowe, and Neil Hutchinson were the balance engineers; and Krzysztof Jarosz was the location engineer. The recording won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

SCRIABIN Prometheus, Op. 60
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Anatol Ugorski, piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1996 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and Ewald Markl and produced by Karl-August Naegler; Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer; Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers; and Karl-August Naegler and Ulrich Vette were the editors.

STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1997 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, and James Lock and Philip Siney were the balance engineers. Duncan Mitchell was the location engineer, and Sally Drew and Nigel Gayler were the recording editors.

American Spirit
KELLEY/Davis Home on the Range
STEFFE/Davis Battle Hymn of the Republic
WARD/Davis America the Beautiful
Chip Davis, conductor
Mannheim Steamroller Symphony
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Old Town, Chicago in March 2003 for American Gramaphone. The album was produced by Chip Davis; Chris Sabold, Mike Konopka, and Dick Lewsey were the engineers; and Mat Lejeune, Brian Pinke, Mike Scasiwicz, Darren Styles were the assistant engineers.

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 2006 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MENOTTI Amahl and the Night Visitors
Alastair Willis, conductor
Amahl Ike Hawkersmith, treble
Mother Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
King Kaspar Dean Anthony, tenor
King Melchior Todd Thomas, baritone
King Balthazar Kevin Short, bass-baritone
Page to the Kings Bart LeFan, baritone
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

RAVEL L’enfant et les sortilèges
Alastair Willis, conductor
L’enfant Julie Boulianne, mezzo-soprano
Maman, La libellule, L’écureuil Geneviève Després, mezzo-soprano
La tasse chinoise, Un pâtre, La chatte Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
La théière, Le petit viellard, La rainette Philippe Castagner, tenor
L’horloge comtoise, Le chat Ian Greenlaw, baritone
Le fauteuil, Un arbre Kevin Short, bass-baritone
La princesse, La chauve-souris Agathe Martel, soprano
Le feu, Le rossignol Cassandre Prévost, soprano
La bergère, Une pastourelle, La chouette Julie Cox, soprano
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chattanooga Boys Choir
Vincent Oakes, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

POULENC Gloria
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe

Bernard Haitink, conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2007 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Miah Persson, soprano
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2008 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January 2009 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by Christopher Alder, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and David Frost and Tom Lazarus were the mixing engineers.
The recording received 2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.

BERLIOZ Lélio ou le retour à la vie
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Gérard Depardieu, narrator
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Kyle Ketelsen, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2010 for CSO Resound. The album was produced and mixed by David Frost, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and Silas Brown was the mixing and mastering engineer.

VERDI Otello
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Otello Aleksandrs Antonenko, tenor
Desdemona Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano
Iago Carlo Guelfi, baritone
Emilia Barbara di Castri, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Juan Francisco Gatell, tenor
Roderigo Michael Spyres, tenor
Montano Paolo Battaglia, bass
Lodovico Eric Owens, bass-baritone
A Herald David Govertsen, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in April 2011 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Tim Martyn, Silas Brown, and Richard King were the mixing engineers.

SCHOENBERG Kol Nidre, Op. 39
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alberto Mizrahi, narrator
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 2012 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

WILLIAMS Lincoln (original motion picture soundtrack)
John Williams, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 2012 for Sony. The recording was produced by John Williams, Ramiro Belgardt was the music editor, Shawn Murphy was the recording and mixing engineer, Robert Wolff was the recording editor, Brad Cobb was the technical engineer, and Patricia Sullivan Fourstar was the mastering engineer.

Riccardo Muti conducts Italian Masterworks
VERDI Gli arredi festivi from Nabucco
VERDI Patria oppressa! from Macbeth
BOITO Prologue to Mefistofele
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Riccardo Zanellato, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 2017 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alexey Tikhomirov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2018 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mastered by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.
The recording received the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album–Classical.

Happy, happy birthday!

Duain Wolfe acknowledges the Chicago Symphony Chorus following a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe on April 5, 2018 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to legendary Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and teacher Itzhak Perlman!

Itzhak Perlman

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago, Perlman has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as both violin soloist and conductor on numerous occasions.

Perlman made his Chicago debut as soloist with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra on July 24 and 25, 1965, in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Irwin Hoffman, and he first appeared locally in recital later that year on November 27 at KAM Isaiah Israel, performing Bloch, Brahms, Chausson, Mozart, Paganini, Sarasate, and Vivaldi with David Garvey at the piano.

He first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 4, 1966 (a few weeks shy of his twenty-first birthday), in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Thomas Schippers conducting. In Orchestra Hall, he first appeared under the auspices of Allied Arts with members of the CSO on an all-Stravinsky concert, in the Violin Concerto in D under the baton of Robert Craft.

As a conductor, Perlman first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 25, 1999, in Bach’s Second Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s First Romance for Violin (also performing as soloist), along with Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. He has led the Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on one occasion, on November 17, 2008, in Bach’s First Violin Concerto (also performing as soloist), Mozart’s Symphony no. 35, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently, he conducted the Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program at the Ravinia Festival on August 18, 2019, leading the Fourth Symphony, Variations on a Rococo Theme with Kian Soltani, and the 1812 Overture.

A complete list of Perlman’s appearances is below:

August 4, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Thomas Schippers, conductor

May 11 and 12, 1967, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Jean Martinon, conductor

Itzhak Perlman (photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Itzhak Perlman (Lisa Marie Mazzucco photo)

July 6, 1967, Ravinia Festival
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Sir Malcolm Sargent, conductor

July 30, 1968, Ravinia Festival
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Moshe Atzmon, conductor

July 24, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
István Kertész, conductor

April 16, 17, and 18, 1970, Orchestra Hall
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor

July 30, 1970, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 27, 1971, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
István Kertész, conductor

July 25, 1972, Ravinia Festial
LALO Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 13, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BERG Violin Concerto
SAINT-SAËNS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
James Levine, conductor

May 8, 9, and 10, 1975, Orchestra Hall
BACH Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor, BWV 1060
Ray Still, oboe
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

November 24, 26, and 28, 1976, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

Perlman Brahms

November 29, 1976, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on November 30 and December 1, 1976. For Angel, Christopher Bishop was the producer and and Christopher Parker was the balance engineer. The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 28, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Lynn Harrell, cello
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
James Levine, conductor

November 16, 17, and 18, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Edo de Waart, conductor

March 23, and 24, 1981, Orchestra Hall (recording sessions only)
ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the producer, Werner Mayer was the recording supervisor, Klaus Scheibe was the recording engineer, and Christopher Adler and Joachim Niss were editors. The recording won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra).

October 29, 30, and 31, 1981, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

March 1, 2, and 3, 1984, Orchestra Hall
ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 7, 1986, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
SARASATE Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25
David Zinman, conductor

August 9, 1986, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
David Zinman, conductor

January 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1987, Orchestra Hall
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

August 8, 1987, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Edo de Waart, conductor

December 6, 1988, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Rondo in C Major, K. 373
MOZART Rondeau: Allegro from Duet No. 1 for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
MOZART Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major, K. 364
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor and viola

July 15, 1989, Ravinia Festival
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
James Conlon, conductor

October 3, 5, and 6, and 7, 1989, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 23, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
James Levine, conductor

June 30, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BACH Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
James Levine, conductor

June 20, 1992, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
James Levine, conductor

May 13, 14, 15, and 18, 1993, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live by Erato. Victor Muenzer was the recording supervisor; Lawrence Rock and Konrad Strauss were sound engineers, assisted by Christopher Willis.

June 26, 1993, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Mariss Jansons, conductor

July 30, 1994, Ravinia Festival
KHACHATURIAN Violin Concerto in D Minor
Hugh Wolff, conductor

September 22, 23, and 24, 1994, Orchestra Hall
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto was recorded live by Teldec. Nikolaus Deckenbrock was the executive producer, Martin Fouqué was the recording producer and editor, Michael Brammann was the recording engineer, and Wolfram Nehls and Philipp Nedel were the assistant engineers.

November 14, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 15, 1995, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

July 18, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

September 26, 27, and 28, 1996, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Cello, Op. 102 (Double)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live by Teldec. Renate Kupfer was the executive producer, Martin Sauer was the recording producer, Michael Brammann was the recording engineer, Philipp Nedel and John Newton were assistant engineers, and Stefan Witzel was the digital editor.

November 11, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MASSENET Meditation from Thaïs
KREISLER Schön Rosmarin
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

June 22, 1997, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

January 22, 23, and 24, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
William Eddins, conductor

July 19, 1998, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 24, 1999, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
KREISLER Liebesleid
KREISLER Liebesfreud
KREISLER Tambourin chinois
Eiji Oue, conductor

July 25, 1999, Ravinia Festival
BACH Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042
BEETHOVEN Romance No. 1 in G major, Op. 40
SCHUBERT Overture to Rosamunde, D. 797
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

June 1, 2, and 3, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14
Charles Dutoit, conductor

July 22, 2000, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Bernhard Klee, conductor

recording session

Perlman and Daniel Barenboim rehearsing with the CSO in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

July 23, 2000, Ravinia Festival
BACH Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor, BWV 1060
Alex Klein, oboe
MOZART Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201
VIVALDI Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 2 (Summer)
BIZET Symphony in C Major
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

November 8, 2000, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Markus Stenz, conductor

December 6, 7, and 8, 2001, Orchestra Hall
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Mathieu Dufour, flute
Daniel Barenboim, piano
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 21, 2002, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
William Eddins, conductor

June 22, 2002, Ravinia Festival
GLINKA Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla
BACH Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

June 23, 2002, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
Kurt Nikkanen, violin
Zuill Bailey, cello
Navah Perlman, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

June 28, 2003, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Robert Spano, conductor

June 29, 2003, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Giora Schmidt, violin
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

June 27, 2004, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Peter Oundjian, conductor

July 9, 2005, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
KREISLER Liebesfreud
SAINT-SÄENS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Marin Alsop, conductor

July 10, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Lang Lang, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

October 1, 2005, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216 (Strassburg)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 12, 2006, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (Turkish)
Yoel Levi, conductor

July 13, 2006, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Emanuel Ax, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

Perlman and Daniel Barenboim rehearsing with the CSO in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

November 17, 2008, Orchestra Hall
BACH Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041
MOZART Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

March 7, 2011, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
KREISLER/McAlister Liebesfreud
James DePreist, conductor

August 4, 2011, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
James Conlon, conductor

August 6, 2011, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Gabriela Martinez, piano
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

August 7, 2013, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor

August 8, 2013, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
HAYDN Cello Concerto No.2 in D Major
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

August 20, 2016, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Bramwell Tovey, conductor

August 21, 2016, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Lynn Harrell, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

July 29, 2017, Ravinia Festival
HUPFELD/Williams As Time Goes By from Casablanca
MORRICONE/Williams Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso
WILLIAMS Theme from Far and Away
BARRY/Williams Main Title Theme from Out of Africa
KORNGOLD/Williams Marian and Robin Love Theme from The Adventures of Robin Hood
WILLIAMS Theme from Sabrina
WILLIAMS Theme from Schindler’s List
GARDEL/Williams Tango from Scent of a Woman
James Conlon, conductor

August 17, 2019, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Krzysztof Urbański, conductor

August 18, 2019, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Kian Soltani, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Perlman also has appeared in Orchestra Hall on numerous times in recital, as follows:

Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1966

December 28, 1966, and January 1, 1967, Orchestra Hall
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Robert Craft, conductor

April 2, 1967, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op 30, No. 3
FRANCK Sonata in A Major
STRAVINSKY Suite italienne
BLOCH Nigun from Baal shem
WIENIAWSKI Scherzo tarantelle, Op. 16
Samuel Sanders, piano

January 12, 1969, Orchestra Hall
VIVALDI Sonata in A Major, RV 31
BACH Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
BRAHMS Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 108
STRAVINSKY Duo concertant
PAGANINI Three Caprices
SARASATE/Zimbalist Carmen Fantasy
Samuel Sanders, piano

April 27, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 301
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 302
MOZART Sonata in C Major, K. 303
MOZART Sonata in E Minor, K. 304
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 305
MOZART Sonata in D Major, K. 306
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 6, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 376
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 378
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 377
MOZART Sonata in C Major, K. 296
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 7, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 379
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 481
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 380
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 454
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 16, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Twelve Variations in G Major on the French Song La bergère Cèlimène, K. 359
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 547
MOZART Six Variations in G Minor on the French Song Hélas! j’ai perdu mon amant, K. 360
MOZART Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, K. 526
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 10, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 12, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 23
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24 (Spring)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 16, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 17, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op. 30, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47
Daniel Barenboim, piano

September 26, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BACH Sonata in G Major, BWV 1019
ELGAR Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82
STRAUSS Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18
Daniel Barenboim, piano

February 2, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Minor, D. 408
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 574 (Grand Duo)
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 934
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Perlman, Samuel Magad, Daniel Barenboim, John Sharp, and Pinchas Zukerman performing Brahms’s F minor quintet on October 9, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

October 9, 1997, Orchestra Hall
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
Samuel Magad, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
John Sharp, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Donald Peck, flute
Alex Klein, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Gregory Smith, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Dale Clevenger, horn
Norman Schweikert, horn
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Daniel Barenboim conductor
MOZART Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
HALVORSEN Passacaglia on a Theme of Handel for Violin and Viola
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
BRAHMS Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Samuel Magad, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, piano

December 1, 1997, Medinah Temple
Brave Old World
The Klezmatics
The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra
The Klezmer Conservatory Band

October 17, 1999, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 377
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 526
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

November 19, 2000, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34
Robert Chen, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, piano

December 9, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 379
BRAHMS Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 3, 2006, Orchestra Hall
BACH/Goldberg Sonata for Two Violins and Keyboard in C Major, BWV 1037
MOZART Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
LECLAIR Sonata for Two Violins in F Major, Op. 3, No. 4
MOSZKOWSKI Suite for Two Violins and Piano in G Minor, Op. 71
Pinchas Zukerman, violin and viola
Rohan De Silva, piano

April 19, 2009, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, K. 493
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Molly Carr, viola
Yves Dharamraj, cello
Kwan Yi, piano
MENDELSSOHN Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Erno Kallai, violin
Francesca Anderegg, violin
Wanzhen Li, violin
Kyle Armbrust, viola
Molly Carr, viola
Jia Kim, cello
Yves Dharamraj, cello

May 1, 2019, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Sonata in D Major, K. 306
BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
Evgeny Kissin, piano

Happy, happy birthday!

On March 12, 2020, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrates the centennial of orchestral and chamber musician, soloist with countless ensembles, and lifelong teacher and coach Ray Still (1920–2014), a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s oboe section for forty years, serving as principal for thirty-nine years.

Ray Still - 1950s

Born on March 12, 1920, in Elwood, Indiana, Still began playing clarinet as a teenager. During the Great Depression, his family moved to California, where he was able to regularly hear performances of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a volunteer usher. After hearing the masterful technique and elegant phrasing of Henri de Busscher—principal oboe in Los Angeles from 1920 until 1948—Still switched to the oboe.

Still graduated from Los Angeles High School and at the age of nineteen joined the Kansas City Philharmonic as second oboe in 1939, where he was a member until 1941 (and also where he met and married Mary Powell Brock in 1940). For the next two years, he studied electrical engineering, served in the reserve US Army Signal Corps, and worked nights at the Douglas Aircraft factory. During the height of World War II, Still joined the US Army in September 1943 and served until June of 1946.

Immediately following his honorable discharge from the Army, Still enrolled at the Juilliard School where he studied with Robert Bloom. The following year in 1947, he began a two-year tenure as principal oboe with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of William Steinberg. Beginning in 1949, Still was principal oboe of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for four years.

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

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

In the fall of 1953, Still auditioned for Fritz Reiner, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recently named music director. Reiner invited him to be the Orchestra’s second-chair oboe and the following year promoted him to the principal position. Still would serve the Orchestra in that capacity—under music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—until his retirement in 1993.

Still appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as soloist on countless occasions, including the Orchestra’s first performances of works for solo oboe by Albinoni, Bach, Barber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Telemann. His extensive discography includes Bach’s Wedding Cantata on RCA with Kathleen Battle as soloist and James Levine conducting, and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C minor on Deutsche Grammophon with Claudio Abbado conducting.

Still performed with numerous other ensembles including the Juilliard, Vermeer, and Fine Arts string quartets; he recorded with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Lynn Harrell; and regularly appeared at many music festivals, including those at Aspen, Stratford, and Marlboro, among others.

A tireless educator, Still taught at the Peabody Institute from 1949 until 1953, Roosevelt University from 1954 until 1957, and at Northwestern University for forty-three years until 2003. Throughout his tenure with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he coached members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. At the invitation of Seiji Ozawa, he spent the summers of 1968 and 1970 as a visiting member of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo, where he held coaching sessions for the wind section, conducted chamber music classes, and lectured at Toho University.

Ray Still - 1970s

Following his retirement from Northwestern, he moved to Annapolis, Maryland—where he continued to give master classes and lessons—with his beloved wife Mary and son James to live near his daughter Susan. In 2013, he moved to Saxtons River and later Woodstock, Vermont, where he lived near Susan, his granddaughter Madeline, and her two daughters. Still died in Woodstock, on March 12, 2014, surrounded by family. He was 94 and was survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Mimi and Kent Dixon of Springfield, Ohio; his son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Sally Still of Big Timber, Montana; his daughter and son-in-law, Susan Still and Peter Bergstrom of Saxtons River, Vermont; six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death in 2012 by Mary, his wife of almost 72 years, and his son James Still.

When interviewed for an article in the Chicago Tribune in 1988, Still was asked why he thought the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was the world’s greatest. His reply: “It’s like a great baseball team. We have a blend of youth and experience, and they work very well together. A lot of orchestras have this. The thing that makes the Chicago Symphony Orchestra very unusual is the tremendous—I hate to use the word—discipline. There is a certain pride, and I think it goes back to the days of Theodore Thomas, the founder. There is something about the tradition of this Orchestra and the level the main body of musicians has come to expect of itself. There’s just a longer line of tradition.”

The Still family has recently updated www.raystill.com, which now includes a new edition of his book Playing the Oboe, along with a gallery of photos and a complete discography.

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

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