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On May 31, 1977, a news conference was held at Orchestra Hall to announce plans for the upcoming 1977-78 season. Recently, Sir Georg Solti had been criticized for concentrating too much on recording and touring, implying that he was “manipulating the Chicago situation purely for his own gain—financial or otherwise.”

Chicago Tribune – October 12, 1987

With humor and “more than a trace of seriousness,” Solti replied: “The city should erect a statue to me.”

Fast forward ten years.

The day following Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday concert, on October 10, 1987, a bust was dedicated in the formal gardens in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Commissioned by C. Geraldine Freund—longtime generous supporter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—the bronze bust was sculpted by Dame Elizabeth Frink.

Press coverage of the event is here and here.

Lady Valerie Solti, Deborah Rutter, Maggie Daley, and Bob O’Neill

In October 2006, the bust was moved south—closer to Orchestra Hall—in what is now Sir Georg Solti Garden in Grant Park. The statue distantly faces The Spirit of Music, a memorial to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s founder and first music director, Theodore Thomas.

The re-dedication was attended by members of the Orchestra, patrons, and staff, along with Lady Valerie Solti, Deborah F. Rutter (president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association), Maggie Daley (wife of then-Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley), and Bob O’Neill (representing the Grant Park Conservancy).

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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After the Europe Tour 2020, Riccardo Muti joined the Orchestra again for a three-week CSO residency in February that included the Florida Tour 2020 and two programs at Symphony Center. In celebration of the Music Director’s time with the Orchestra during the past two months, please enjoy this video featuring Maestro Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in an excerpt from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, featuring mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as Santuzza. 🎥@toddrphoto
Opening with the most famous four notes in all of classical music, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is featured on this CSO program led by Riccardo Muti, along with the composer’s Second Symphony and the world premiere of Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy, a new work by Nicolas Bacri featuring the CSO’s own bass clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom as soloist. #Beethoven250 📸@toddrphoto
“In four years, I had been in five orchestras,” said CSO Bass Clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom about the beginning of his orchestral career. As a clarinetist, he never set out to play the bass clarinet, but there just happened to be orchestral positions for the instrument when he began seeking a job. “That is how fast the auditions were happening. But by then, I had really started to realize that the bass gave me a voice I’d never had.” J. Lawrie Bloom takes center stage this week in Orchestra Hall for the world premiere of Nicolas Bacri’s Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti. #MusicianMonday 📸@toddrphoto


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