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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the passing of legendary pianist, conductor, and composer Sir André Previn, who died this morning at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.

A frequent visitor to Chicago from 1962 until 2006, Previn appeared with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and in Orchestra Hall, in Milwaukee, in the television and recordings studios, as well as on a number of appearances in recital and with visiting orchestras. A complete list is below.

March 18, 1962, WGN Studios (Great Music from Chicago)
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
HINDEMITH Scherzo from Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-flat Major
PREVIN Portrait for Strings
PREVIN Jazz Sequence
GERSHWIN Piano Concerto in F
André Previn, piano and conductor

July 2, 1964, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95
LALO Symphonie espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 21
Ruggiero Ricci, violin
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47

July 4, 1964, Ravinia Festival
PREVIN Overture to a Comedy
COPLAND The Red Pony, Film Suite for Orchestra
GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue
GERSHWIN Piano Concerto in F
André Previn, piano and conductor

June 24, 1965, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Coriolanus, Op. 62
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto for Piano, No. 1, C Major, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
This concert was Daniel Barenboim’s debut as piano soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

June 26, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K. 297 (Paris)
MOZART Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
Judith Raskin, soprano
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Judith Raskin, soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17

January 13, 14, and 15, 1966, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, piano

February 19, 20, 21, and 22, 1975
February 24, 1975, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
BERLIOZ Overture to Beatrice and Benedict
BARTÓK Concerto for Violin No. 2
Kyung-Wha Chung, violin
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 54

February 27, 28, and March 2, 1975
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No. 5 in D Major
RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27

July 22, 1976, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (Classical)
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 26
Gary Graffman, piano
PROKOFIEV Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64

July 24, 1976, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Le Corsaire Overture, Op. 21
RAVEL Mother Goose Suite
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
John Currie, director

January 20, 21, and 22, 1977, Orchestra Hall
MESSIAEN Turangalîla-Symphonie
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Jeanne Loriod, ondès martenot

January 24, 1977, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219
Mayumi Fujikawa, violin
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony was recorded in Medinah Temple on January 25, 1977. For EMI Records, Christopher Bishop was the producer, Christopher Parker was the balance engineer, and Simon Gibson remastered the recording at Abbey Road Studios.

January 27 and 30, 1977, Orchestra Hall
January 31, 1977, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Mayumi Fujikawa, violin
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 43
Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony was recorded in Medinah Temple on February 1, 1977. For EMI Records, Christopher Bishop was the producer, Christopher Parker was the balance engineer, and Simon Gibson remastered the recording at Abbey Road Studios.

April 19, 20, and 21, 1979, Orchestra Hall
April 23, 1979, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MAW Life Studies (No. VII and No. VIII)
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Horacio Gutiérrez, piano
STRAUSS An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64

April 28, 1979, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27
Concert celebrating the second inauguration of Illinois Governor James R. Thompson, rescheduled from January 13, 1979, due to inclement weather

April 26, 27, and 29, 1979, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Viktor Tretyakov, violin
RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27

March 11, 12, and 13, 1982, Orchestra Hall
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
WALTON Cello Concerto
Ralph Kirshbaum, cello
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93

March 18, 19, and 20, 1982
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Cristina Ortiz, piano
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Previn also appeared on the CSO Presents and Symphony Center Presents series in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

September 30, 1996
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Leon Fleisher, piano
STRAUSS Domestic Symphony, Op. 53

April 28, 2004
BEETHOVEN Trio No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3
BRAHMS Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8
MENDELSSOHN Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 49
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Lynn Harrell, cello
Sir André Previn, piano

March 6, 2005
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
PREVIN Violin Concerto (Anne-Sophie)
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
STRAUSS An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64

Numerous tributes have appeared on The New York Times, BBC News, and NPR sites, among several others.

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This week Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony, almost exactly one hundred years since Frederick Stock first conducted it in Chicago.

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first performances of Mahler's First Symphony

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s First Symphony

That first performance of the symphony (sandwiched between Handel’s Concerto grosso, op. 6, no. 2 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Josef Hofmann) on November 6, 1914, left Ronald Webster of the Chicago Daily Tribune a bit puzzled: “The Mahler symphony is less important but more interesting to talk about because it is strictly earthy. There is a suggestion in the program notes that Mahler was not wholly serious in this symphony. It was obvious yesterday that he was not serious at all. Even the finale is not serious, though it is tiresome, being too long. But it is the quality of the humor which is likely to cause people to turn up their noses. The humor is a little coarse, definitely ironical, of a barnyard kind and healthy. Mahler is himself partly to blame for such ideas about him. Definite conceptions such as his (though he may not have been serious about them either) are death to all mystic attitude toward this work. . . . He suggests that the first movement is nature’s awakening at early morning. One suspects that Mahler included in nature the cows and chickens as well as the cuckoo and the dewy grass.” The complete review is here.

Despite that critic’s early apprehensions, the symphony soon became a staple in the Orchestra’s repertoire and has been led—at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour—by a vast array of conductors, including: Roberto Abbado, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Adam Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Irwin Hoffman, Paul Kletzki, Kirill Kondrashin, Rafael Kubelík, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Henry Mazer, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, George Schick, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Georg Solti, William Steinberg, Klaus Tennstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Bruno Walter, and Jaap van Zweden.

And the Orchestra has recorded the work six times, as follows:

Giulini 1971Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel at Medinah Temple in March 1971
Christopher Bishop, producer
Carson Taylor, engineer
Giulini’s recording won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Orchestra from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Abbado 1981Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in February 1981
Rainer Brock, producer
Karl-August Naegler, engineer

Solti 1983Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London at Orchestra Hall in October 1983
James Mallinson, producer
James Lock, engineer

Tennstedt 1990Klaus Tennstedt, conductor
Recorded by EMI at Orchestra Hall in May and June 1990
John Fraser, producer
Michael Sheady, engineer

Boulez 1998Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in May 1998
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Rainer Maillard and Reinhard Lagemann, engineers

Haitink 2008Bernard Haitink, conductor
Recorded by CSO Resound at Orchestra Hall in May 2008
James Mallinson, producer
Christopher Willis, engineer

For more information on Muti’s performances of Mahler’s First this week, please visit the CSO’s website.

Just before the opening of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s seventieth season, our sixth music director Fritz Reiner suffered a heart attack on October 7, 1960. He had been scheduled to conduct the first four weeks of concerts, but his recuperation forced the cancellation of his remaining appearances for the calendar year.

Maria Callas with Antonino Votto

Antonino Votto was one of Maria Callas‘s integral collaborators, leading many of her important productions at La Scala in the 1950s. He also was conductor of several of her landmark recordings on EMI including Puccini’s La bohème, Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, Bellini’s La sonnambula, and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.

Replacement conductors included CSO associate conductor Walter Hendl, Robert Shaw (leading Beethoven’s Missa solemnis), Erich Leinsdorf (to conduct a special Saturday evening concert on October 15 featuring the U.S. debut of Sviatoslav Richter as soloist in Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto), and Antonino Votto (who would soon become Riccardo Muti‘s conducting teacher).

Votto was in Chicago to make his debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago and (according to their Performance + Cast Archive) he led the season opening performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo on October 14, 21, and 24. The cast included Giulietta Simionato, Margherita Roberti, Richard Tucker, Tito Gobbi, and Boris Christoff. Votto also conducted performances of Verdi’s Aida on October 17, 19, 22, and 28, with a cast that included Leontyne Price, Simionato, Carlo Bergonzi, and Robert Merrill.

Antonino Votto and Guiomar Novaes's program book biographies

Antonino Votto and Guiomar Novaes’s program book biographies

According to an October 16, 1960, CSO press release: “Antonino Votto will conduct the subscription concerts in the third week of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s current season. The concerts of Tuesday afternoon, October 25, and the subscription pair of Thursday-Friday, October 27-28, originally scheduled for music director Fritz Reiner, will be directed by the Italian conductor who is currently in Chicago for his first season with the Lyric Opera. A leading conductor of both opera and symphony concerts at La Scala in Milan, Maestro Votto’s appearance with the Orchestra has been made possible through the courteous cooperation of Miss Carol Fox, General Manager of the Lyric Opera.”

October 25, 1960 - revised program

October 25, 1960 – revised program

October 25, 1960 - original program advertisement

October 25, 1960 – original program advertisement

Both programs were modified (see images right and below) to accommodate conductor and soloist. According to Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune regarding the first concert on October 25: “From the start of Haydn’s London Symphony thru the Mozart with Guiomar Novaes and Debussy’s Faun to the perfectly planned and executed climax of a stunning Pictures at an Exhibition this was a major concert on the sounder shores of style” (complete review is here). Also according to Cassidy, word traveled fast and the following two concerts on Thursday and Friday quickly sold out: “. . . Votto is a man to respect a score, an orchestra and a soloist. When you add that to knowing your business and you can work with other musicians on a high level remarkable things can happen. Such as orchestral equilibrium, a sense of proportion in displaying a soloist, a mounting excitement on the stage and in the audience. In other words, quite a concert” (complete review is here).

October 27 & 28, 1960 - revised program

October 27 & 28, 1960 – revised program

October 27 & 28, 1960 - original program advertisement

October 27 & 28, 1960 – original program advertisement

According to a newspaper account, Reiner—from his hospital bed at Presbyterian/Saint Luke’s—was able to hear a portion of the Friday afternoon matinee via “telephone from a remote pickup thru a microphone in the concert hall to a loudspeaker in the manager’s office.” Reiner’s statement: “Please convey my warm compliments on the splendid performance of Mme. Novaes and Maestro Votto. I enjoyed very much the finesse and style of the orchestra, which has been inoculated in the years of our association.”

Votto was re-engaged at Lyric the following season for Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor on October 14, 16, and 18, 1961 (with Joan Sutherland, Bergonzi, and Tucker); Giordano’s Andrea Chenier on October 20, and 25, 28 (with Shakeh Vartenissian and Jon Vickers); and the company premiere of Boito’s Mefistofele on October 21, 23, and 27 (with Ilva Ligabue, Christa Ludwig, Christoff, and Bergonzi).

Votto returned to Italy and in November 1962, twenty-one-year-old Riccardo Muti met him during his first year as a student at the Milan Conservatory. Muti remembers: “And then there was Votto, whom I recall so vividly. He was solemn and incredibly strict, and had worked with [Arturo] Toscanini during his years at La Scala. . . . Within a few days, however, I realized that Votto had taken a liking to me, to the point of giving me—as if to prefer me over less talented students, or ones he didn’t like as much—some pieces to conduct for the performances the following year. Not only did I take a class with him, but I also attended some of his rehearsals at La Scala. . . . I was particularly struck when he did Falstaff: he didn’t have the score! Now, it’s one thing to conduct from memory, but to try that with Falstaff is one of those things that just leaves you flabbergasted and makes you think that maybe, with such experts around, you’d best find another job. I asked him something along those lines, and he replied: ‘If you had worked with Him, you would do the same.’ ‘Him,’ of course, meant Toscanini, with whom such work was an intense, special months-long undertaking; after that, going on memory became spontaneous, the natural result of having complete mastery of the score. . . .

“Votto’s approach was based on conductorial efficiency, music for music’s sake, no frills, no bells and whistles, going straight to the heart of opera, only essential gestures, nothing more than was absolutely necessary. In his classes he’d often repeat, ‘Don’t annoy the orchestra.’ To the uninitiated that phrase might seem absurd or misleading, calling into question the orchestra conductor’s usefulness. In reality he just wanted to advise us that, once the orchestra was on an orderly, rhythmic path (the obvious outcome of long rehearsing), the maestro mustn’t disturb that natural gait, and must therefore avoid rash gestures while on the podium, steering clear of any temptation to become a court jester; basically, he mustn’t alter what the nature of the piece itself had established. And such a position was a clear, complete reflection of Arturo Toscanini’s.”

Their friendship continued well beyond the conservatory, and when Muti married Maria Cristina Mazzavillani on June 1, 1969, in Ravenna, Votto was best man (“while Sviatoslav Richter became our ad hoc photographer and took some of the best photos”).

Excerpts from Riccardo Muti, An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words.

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