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Fantasia 2000

Between 1993 and 1996, James Levine conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in recording sessions at Medinah Temple for Fantasia 2000, the long-awaited sequel to Disney’s classic Fantasia from 1940. Levine led extended excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5, Respighi’s Pines of Rome, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no. 2 with Yefim Bronfman, Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals with pianists Gail Niwa and Philip Sabransky (both children of CSO members), Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance marches with soprano Kathleen Battle and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

The movie was released on New Year’s Day 2000, and Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert described the IMAX version “not just as a film, but as an event.” He continued, “Movies like this renew my faith that the future of the cinema lies not in the compromises of digital projection, but by leaping over the limitations of digital into the next generation of film technology.”

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Top of the first page of the first bassoon part to The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Top of the first page of the first bassoon part to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

“This interesting novelty is by a composer little known to the musical world and whose name now appears for the first time on the programs of these concerts,” wrote Hubbard William Harris in the program book. “[Paul] Dukas’s composition is, as its name signifies, in a single movement and is constructed from thematic material so easily grasped as to require neither quotation nor extended explanation. . . . The composer has drawn his inspiration from Goethe’s ballad Der Zauberlehrling (The pupil in magic). The instrumentation is exceedingly rich and effective and in point of difficulty of execution the work stands side by side with the brilliant compositions of [Richard] Strauss, d’Indy, and other modern writers.”

January 13 and 14, 1899

January 13 and 14, 1899

Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra performed Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on January 13, 1899, the U.S. premiere of the thirty-three-year-old composer’s scherzo. Forty years later in Disney’s Fantasia, the work would be forever linked to Mickey Mouse’s apprentice, tormented by his inability to control an onslaught of brooms and buckets of water.

(Bruno Steindel, the Orchestra’s principal cello, originally was scheduled to be soloist in Raff’s Cello Concerto on this program; however, he canceled due to illness and Chabrier’s “interesting novelty,” the composer’s Suite pastorale, replaced the concerto.)

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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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