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Dishpan Symphony - April 1934

Another fantastic donation arrived in the mail earlier this week: this publicity photograph from April 1934, promoting a very special concert.

In order to secure the continued financial stability of The Orchestral Association, a “deficit fund” campaign to raise $70,000 (the anticipated shortfall of the 1933-34 season) was launched in the spring of 1934. After $58,000 of that amount had been raised, music director Frederick Stock and his musicians organized a concert to express their appreciation to the subscribers who had pledged their support.

On the reverse of the image, the following was indicated: “Chicago Symphony to present Dishpan Concert. In celebration of the raising of a deficit fund, the subscribers will be given a special concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 will be played with all of the members of the percussion section using pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils, carefully selected for quality of tone. Dr. Frederick Stock, left, director of the Orchestra, is appraising the tone of a frying pan in the hands of Edward Kopp during a rehearsal.”

Program page for the April 9, 1934, concert

Program page for the April 9, 1934, concert

In an advance notice, Edward Moore in the Chicago Tribune commented that the upcoming concert would be outside the normal routine and “the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can never be considered a conventional organization. . . . Before an invited audience consisting of those public spirited citizens who have subscribed to the deficit fund it will present an entertainment called ‘The Orchestra at Play.’ Here will be a complete program of the orchestra in its light-hearted and comic moments. No advance program has been issued, but it is understood that the spirit of parody and burlesque is running high. Extra and seldom heard instruments will be brought into play, certain revered and decorous compositions have been re-orchestrated in a startling manner, individuals and groups from the orchestra will demonstrate that the most earnest practitioners of music are not always the most solemn in their practice, a master of ceremonies will make running comment thereon.” The complete article is here.

Chicago Herald-Examiner headline from April 10, 1934

Chicago Herald-Examiner headline from April 10, 1934

Another Tribune account by Cousin Eve indicated that music director Frederick Stock’s “merry men have combed the city with tuning forks, tuning in on all kinds of kitchen ware, crockery sets, kegs, kettles, and metal implements to find the desired sound vibration. Often they have been taken for escaped lunatics.” The complete article is here.

Needless to say, the concert was a smashing success. In the Chicago Daily News, Margot Jr. reported “The symphony concerts will never be the same again. No matter how restrained the conduct of the orchestra itself, no matter how reserved the audience, shades of a bassoon quartet, a kitchen symphony and a fan dancer will hereafter forever inject their own particular charms into interpretations of Wagner, Beethoven, or Brahms. . . . [The audience was] packed into every available inch of seating and standing space from footlights to galleries [who] have subscribed to the deficit fund of the orchestra.”

Image from The Daily News - Frederick Stock and members of the percussion section

Frederick Stock and members of the percussion section from an image featured in the Chicago Daily News

A variety of shenanigans were reported: Frederick Stock entering the stage to the tune of “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?”; Orchestra members dressed as monks, cooks, and in drag as ballet and fan dancers; manager Henry Voegeli arrested onstage; and, of course, the Allegretto from Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony performed on “a huge stove covered with tin skillets and two long tables laden with pans and bowls. . . . The audience wouldn’t let them stop after one number, so with equal agility they played Schubert’s ‘Moment Musicale’ à la dishpan.” Three articles describing the antics are here and here.

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Another unexpected donation arrived last week, and it is nothing short of spectacular: the first numbered set of a limited first edition printing of Theodore Thomas‘s autobiography.

Copy number one

Copy number one

Our founder and first music director completed his autobiography during the summer of 1904, just before the opening of the Orchestra’s fourteenth season. It was first published in two volumes—Life Work and Concert Programmes—on April 5, 1905, just three months after his unexpected death on January 4.

Inscription from editor George P. Upton to publisher Ogden Trevor McClurg

Inscription from editor George P. Upton to publisher Ogden Trevor McClurg

And what makes this donation all the more remarkable is that it bears an inscription from the editor to the publisher A. C. McClurg & Co. The inscription reads: “To Ogden Trevor McClurg / These memorials of the great conductor / with its very cordial regards of their compile[?] / Geo. P. Upton / Chicago May 2, 1905”.

In the preface, Thomas wrote: “. . . I never intended to write my autobiography, or anything else; I desired only to preserve my programmes—representing over half a century of a very important part of the history of music in America—in some permanent form, and this is the result. I am happy to say that at my request, Mr. George P. Upton, whose interest in the cause of good music has been of such marked benefit to Chicago for fifty years, has undertaken the laborious task of compiling and editing this publication, of selecting and classifying the programmes to be printed, and of writing such explanations as they have required.”

The limited edition open to the title page

The limited edition of the autobiography open to the title page of volume one

The standard issue of the book with volume two opened to an illustration of Thomas sitting at his desk

The standard issue of the autobiography with volume two opened to an illustration of Thomas sitting at his desk

From left to right: the 1905 two-volume limited edition, the 1905 two-volume standard edition, and the 1964 reprint

From left to right: the 1905 two-volume limited edition, the 1905 two-volume standard edition, and the 1964 reprint

We frequently receive donations of a variety of materials, and just recently several vintage advertisements arrived in our mailbox. A sampling is below.

here's the caption

Advertisement for Jacques Thibaud’s recital at Orchestra Hall on March 4, 1918

French violinist Jacques Thibaud appeared in recital at Orchestra Hall on March 4, 1918, under the auspices of the Musicians Club of Women. According to a review in the Chicago Tribune, he was accompanied primarily by pianist Nicolai Schneer in works by Wieniawski and Saint-Saëns and on the organ by Tina Mae Haines for a “brief concerto by Vivaldi-Nachez.” The reviewer noted that Thibaud also “inserted Bach’s chaconne by request. He would have been in the season’s fashion had he done so without request. And he would have been more entertaining in this recital had he ignored the request; for he did not play it with charm or spark. This is, perhaps, the expected memorandum on anybody’s playing the chaconne with [Jascha] Heifetz‘s performance still in the ear; but it is a piece that had been played badly and played well before Heifetz came. It doesn’t ‘lie’ for Thibaud’s especial talent, maybe.”

Front of a photo postcard of violinist Amy Neill . . .

Front of a photo postcard of violinist Amy Neill . . .

. . . and the reverse of the postcard, announcing her Orchestra Hall recital on April 9, 1924

. . . and the reverse of the postcard, announcing her Orchestra Hall recital on April 9, 1924

American violinist Amy Neill appeared in recital on April 9, 1924, having appeared at Orchestra Hall at least once previously, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in April 1921 as soloist in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Frederick Stock conducting. Her recital program included Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D major (it is not clear if it was no. 2 or no. 4), D’Ambrosio’s Violin Concerto in B minor, and Sarasate’s Introduction and Tarantelle, along with a number of Fritz Kreisler arrangements. Her accompanist was Isaac van Grove. Neill appeared again with the Orchestra and Stock in January 1926, in Glazunov’s Violin Concerto. Her program biography from those appearances indicate that she was born in Chicago and had studied with Hugo Kortschak (a member of the CSO’s first violin section beginning in 1907 and assistant concertmaster from 1910 until 1914). Neill had spent some of her early career in Europe, appearing as soloist with the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Vienna Symphony.

here's the caption

Advertisement for Gregor Piatigorsky’s appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on February 23, 1932

A frequent and favorite guest artist, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky was in town to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 21 and 22, 1932, in Boccherini’s Cello Concero in B-flat major and Bloch’s Schelomo under the baton of Frederick Stock. He returned for a Tuesday subscription concert on February 23 for Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto in A minor and a repeat of the Bloch, again with Stock conducting. Edward Moore’s newspaper account in the Chicago Tribune—devoted primarily to the world premiere of John Alden Carpenter’s Song of Faith (celebrating the bicentennial of Georg Washington‘s birth and performed twice, near the beginning and at the end of the concert)—noted: “Then, too, Gregor Piatigorsky, who plays the cello as easily as other persons play the violin, came as soloist, with a brilliant performance of Saint-Saëns’s Concerto in A minor and Bloch’s earnest if somewhat laborious Schelomo. All in all, it was a program of unusual construction, but a highly enjoyable one.”

So yeah, this appeared today.

Summer is a good time to clean out offices and closets, and a lot of my colleagues have been doing exactly that. And one co-worker called earlier this week saying, “I found a few things that your might be interested in.” I went over to his office today and was presented with this.

The Hand, as I’ll call it for now, was a gift from a patron to a visiting pianist. Apparently, the pianist wasn’t interested in taking the gift with him and left it behind.

Can anyone help me attempt to identify whose hand this might be? There are no inscriptions on the hand or on the base, and I can’t really tell what the medium is. I thought it might be a copy of another famous hand — Liszt, Chopin, Rubinstein, Beethoven, etc. — but I don’t think so.

Help?

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