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Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the wonderful Welsh bass, Gwynne Howell!

Gwynne Howell (Guy Gravett photo)

Howell has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions and on several award-winning recordings between 1974 and 1990. A complete list is below (concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted).

April 12 and 13, 1974
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Heather Harper, soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
Jerry Jennings, tenor
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

April 24 and 26, 1975
April 30, 1975 (Carnegie Hall)
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

January 29, 30, and 31, 1976
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Peter Pears, tenor
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Mallory Walker, tenor
Dominic Cossa, baritone
Werner Klemperer, narrator
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

May 5, 6, and 7, 1977
May 13, 1977 (Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The work was recorded in Chicago’s Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer and Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

May 10 and 12, 1979
May 19, 1979 (Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Fidelio, Op. 72
Hildegard Behrens, soprano
Sona Ghazarian, soprano
Peter Hofmann, tenor
David Kübler, tenor
Theo Adam, baritone
Hans Sotin, bass
Gwynne Howell, bass
Robert Johnson, tenor
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director
The opera was recorded at Medinah Temple on May 21, 22, 23, and 24, 1979. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer, Michael Haas was the assistant producer, and James Lock, David Frost, and Tony Griffiths were the engineers.

April 7, 9, and 12, 1983
April 18, 1983 (Carnegie Hall)
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass-baritone
Hermann Becht, baritone
Gabriele Schnaut, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Robert Tear, tenor
Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Malcolm Smith, bass
Gwynne Howell, bass
Mary Jane Johnson, soprano
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Dennis Bailey, tenor
Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Emily Golden, mezzo-soprano

September 27, 28, and 29, 1984
HANDEL Messiah
Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Anne Gjevang, contralto
Keith Lewis, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The work was recorded in Orchestra Hall on October 1, 2, and 9, 1984. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer, and James Lock and Simon Eadon were balance engineers.

January 25, 26, and 28, 1990
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
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
The work was recorded on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, in Orchestra Hall. For London Records, Michael Haas was the recording producer, and Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon were the balance engineers. The recording won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Performance of a Choral Work from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Check out the video below, produced by Wild Plum Arts, in which Howell talks about working with Solti and many others.

Happy, happy birthday!

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony were given on April 6 and 7, 1950, in Orchestra Hall under the baton of guest conductor George Szell. Since then, the work has been led by music directors Rafael Kubelík, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; principal guest conductors Carlo Maria Giulini and Pierre Boulez; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and James Conlon; along with guest conductors Sir John Barbirolli, Lawrence Foster, Michiyoshi Inoue, Hans Rosbaud, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Orchestra has recorded the work on three notable occasions, as follows.

Carlo Maria Giulini, the Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor, led Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in December 1971 and March 1975 before returning in April 1976 to perform and record the work. Following the first concert of that residency, Karen Monson in the Chicago Daily News wrote that “each time the aristocratic maestro meets the transcendent symphony, the relationship becomes more and more special, Giulini and the Orchestra have delved into the deepest secrets of this music, and Thursday evening they delivered a performance so rich and complete . . .”

In the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Willis called the performance “one of Giulini’s great nights in Orchestra Hall.” Recording sessions were scheduled for the following week, and “by the time the tape is rolling, this could be the most heartfelt and compelling recorded version of Mahler’s grief-stricken penultimate symphony. . . . The Chicago Symphony players will take any risks for Giulini. If he wishes them to play softer than soft, applying bow to string, or breath to mouthpiece or reed, they proceed to just this side of bobble or discomfiting silence. . . . No other guest has such control over orchestral color and emotional variation.”

Deutsche Grammophon was on hand on April 5 and 6, 1976, to record the symphony in Medinah Temple. Günther Breest was the executive producer and Klaus Scheibe the recording engineer. The release won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Classical Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti first led the Orchestra in Mahler’s symphony at Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall in April 1981 before taking it on the road to Lucerne, Paris, Amsterdam, and London later that year. Back in Chicago, Solti led a concert performance (benefiting the musicians’ pension fund) on April 28, 1982, and recorded the symphony on May 2 and 4 in Orchestra Hall.

Reviewing in Gramophone magazine, Richard Osborne noted: “When Solti conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in London in the autumn of 1981 the critic of The Financial Times observed: ‘Solti obviously knew how this music should gobut not why.’ Such a reading would be an evident act of self-parody, for it is to this very theme—the modern world’s nightmarish preoccupation with sensation, spiraling, self-referring and impossible to assuage—that Mahler so fearlessly addresses himself in the symphony’s third movement, the Rondo Burleske. It’s clear, though, from the present recording, made in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in May 1982, that Solti’s sense of the music is a good deal more rooted than it appeared to be amid the unsettling razzmatazz of an end-of-tour London performance.

“The new performance has a measure of repose about it as well as much splendour. The second movement is robust and resilient as Mahler directs. There is defiance and obstinacy in the third movement, an awful power which illuminates the music rather than the orchestra’s known expertise.”

James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock was the engineer for London Records. The recording won 1983 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Recording, Best Engineered Recording—Classical, and Best Classical Album.

Soon after being named as the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Pierre Boulez was in Chicago to lead four performances of Mahler’s Ninth in November December 1995.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma wrote that Boulez led “one of classical music’s most profound meditations on relentless death and tumultuous life” as a “study in musical clarity, elegant balances, and proportion. . . . Many conductors play up the contrasts, creating dramatic mood shifts. Boulez and the CSO were after something more subtle.” John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune added that Boulez “[filtered] the work through his own modernist sensibility. Granted, there are ambiguities and uncertainties in this symphony that resist so rational an approach. But there are also levels of purely musical meaning few other conductors have uncovered. The otherworldly stillnesses, the demonic humor, the desolate nostalgia, the strange lapses into folkish banality registered that much more strongly because the hand organizing them was so calm and precise. . . . Let us hope the studio sessions capture in full the splendor of the live performances.”

For Deutsche Grammophon, the work was recorded at Medinah Temple on December 2 and 4, 1995. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler recording producer and editor, Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were recording engineers. The release won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony no. 9 on May 17, 18, 19, and 22, 2018.

Under the leadership of chorus directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won ten Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Choral Performance.*

Recordings have been led by music directors Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, and Ravinia Festival music director James Levine on RCA, London, Deutsche Grammophon, and CSO Resound.

1977 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer

1978 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977, for London
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes, balance engineers

1979 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot, balance engineers

1982 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
James Lock and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1983 – Best Choral Performance
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano
Norma Burrowes, soprano
Rudiger Wohlers, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Frank Miller, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 9, 10, and 11, 1981, for London
Paul Myers, recording producer
James Lock and John Dunkerley, balance engineers

1984 – Best Choral Performance
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
James Levine, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 5 and 6, 1983, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer
John Newton and Thomas MacCluskey, engineers

1986 – Best Choral Performance
ORFF Carmina burana
James Levine, conductor
June Anderson, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon
Steven Paul, producer
Cord Garben, recording supervisor
Klaus Scheibe, recording engineer
Jürgen Bulgrin, editing

1991 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
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 Shimmell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Richard Webster, organ
John Sharp, cello
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, for London
Michael Haas, recording producer
Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1993 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BARTÓK Cantata profana
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon
Alison Ames, executive producer
Karl-August Naegler, recording producer
Rainer Maillard, balance engineer
Oliver Rosalla, editing

2010 – Best Choral Performance
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, for CSO Resound
Christopher Alder, producer
Christopher Willis, recording engineer
David Frost and Tom Lazarus, mixing
Silas Brown and David Frost, stereo mastering

*The name of the category has changed slightly over the years; see here for details.

Fritz Reiner (Oscar Chicago photo)

One of Fritz Reiner’s primary goals, early in his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s sixth music director, was to program major choral works. However, the repertory he wished to perform was, in his opinion, too demanding for the amateur and student groups usually engaged.

While visiting New York in February 1954, Reiner observed a rehearsal of the New York Concert Choir, under the direction of its founder, Margaret Hillis. He was so impressed that on his return to Chicago, Reiner convinced the board of trustees to hire Hillis and her ensemble for performances the following season of Barber’s recently composed Prayers of Kirkegaard and Orff’s Carmina burana, both new to the Orchestra’s repertoire. (For performances of Beethoven’s “less demanding” Ninth Symphony, the local Swedish Choral Club was engaged.)

Margaret Hillis

Hillis and the New York Concert Choir first traveled to Chicago in March 1955 for three performances of the works by Barber and Orff. Roger Dettmer, writing for the American, exclaimed, “it was Miss Hillis’s magnificent choir of sixty which matched most closely the Orchestra’s astonishing virtuosity by giving Dr. Reiner the fullest measure of choral artistry.” In the Daily News, Irving Sablosky added, “We’re not used to hearing choral singing of such refinement and nuance in symphony concerts. I hope we’ll hear more.”

Despite scheduling challenges, Reiner reengaged Hillis the following season for Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Bruckner’s Te Deum in January 1956. Dettmer wrote that the Orchestra and “Margaret Hillis’s magnificent [choir], easily the finest professional chorus in this country today, [performed] with uncommon brilliance, and maestro himself was in supremely spirited command.”

For the 1957–58 season, Reiner hoped to perform and record Verdi’s Requiem, and again he contacted Hillis. The New York Concert Choir averaged only sixty voices, and she informed Reiner they would need nearly double that in order to do justice to the Verdi. It would simply be too expensive.

This impasse gave Reiner an idea. He persuaded board president Eric Oldberg to hire Hillis to organize a chorus permanently affiliated with the Orchestra in Chicago. She initially agreed to advise on how to audition a director and choristers, but Reiner insisted there would be no chorus unless Hillis herself was the director. At the trustees meeting on September 20, 1957, Oldberg reported on successful negotiations and the plan to hire Hillis was approved.

Chicago Tribune, September 22, 1957

“As choral literature takes on increasing importance in the orchestral sphere, the Chicago Symphony is making its move to institutionalize the trend,” wrote Seymour Raven in the Chicago Tribune on September 22. “From Orchestra Hall comes word that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus is to be a new factor in the city’s musical life.”

Auditions began on October 5, and in less than two weeks the Sun-Times reported that they had “produced an exceptionally high rate of successful applicants. . . . Skill in sight-reading, interpretative ability, and voice quality were the main prerequisites for success. Voices with a tremolo or breathless quality were automatically rejected.” On October 13, the Daily News advertised that auditions were continuing: “Men’s voices are still urgently needed.”

Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1957

The Chicago Symphony Chorus, nearly one hundred voices strong, began rehearsals on October 28, and on November 30, the ensemble made an informal debut at a private concert for guarantors and sustaining members. On the first half of the concert, Reiner led Cailliet’s orchestration of Bach’s Little G minor fugue and Strauss’s Oboe Concerto (with principal Ray Still), and after intermission, Hillis took the podium, becoming the first woman to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She led the Orchestra and Chorus in Thompson’s Alleluia and Billings’s Modern Music (both a cappella), the final section of Purcell’s Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day, and the Servants’ Chorus from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Dettmer reported in the American that the debut was “more than promising . . . Miss Hillis’s choristers were fresh-voiced, musically sensitive, already balanced internally . . . she has accomplished much in the briefest time span.”

When popular guest conductor Bruno Walter informed the Orchestral Association that his March 1958 appearances would be his last in Chicago, Oldberg insisted that he should lead Mozart’s Requiem with the new chorus as his swansong. To prepare for both sets of concerts, Hillis and the Chorus began their work in earnest on Mozart’s and Verdi’s requiems, with Reiner regularly attending rehearsals.

Chicago Tribune, March 14, 1958

On March 13 and 14, 1958, the Chicago Symphony Chorus made its official debut in Mozart’s Requiem, under Walter’s baton with soloists Maria Stader, Maureen Forrester, David Lloyd, and Otto Edelmann. In the Chicago Tribune, Claudia Cassidy wrote: “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is in high estate, with the kind of clairvoyance that gives a conductor what he wants in sound. . . . The evening’s card up the Mozartean sleeve was the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus of about 100 voices, expertly chosen and admirably trained by Margaret Hillis. It had balance and hints of brilliance, it was adroit in attack and it had moments of reassuringly imaginative song. The Confutatis in particular caught the haunted terror that was Mozart’s when the mysterious commission for the Requiem convinced him that the death knell he wrote was his own.”

Program page for Verdi’s Requiem, performed on April 3 and 4, 1958. It was repeated the following Tuesday, April 8.

Less than a month later, the Chorus appeared in Verdi’s Requiem with Reiner conducting and soloists Leonie Rysanek, Regina Resnik, David Lloyd, and Giorgio Tozzi. In the Sun-Times, Robert C. Marsh wrote that “Miss Hillis’s chorus proved its virtues earlier this season. Again its excellent enunciation, reliable intonation, and intelligent response were praiseworthy.”*

The following season, at Reiner’s invitation, Hillis conducted the Orchestra and Chorus in Honegger’s Christmas Cantata in December 1958. In the Daily News, Donal Henahan wrote, “Miss Hillis, who has been until now unknown except by name to most symphony subscribers, ruled her vast forces with a firm beat and a sure hand.” And the critic in the American noted, “With a clear (if inflexible) beat, Miss Hillis marshalled her forces, choral and orchestra, in a tight, sensitive, sweet-sounding statement of the music. . . . All in all, a glorious Christmas program.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus onstage in March 1959. Also pictured is chorus director Margaret Hillis, music director Fritz Reiner, and associate conductor Walter Hendl (Oscar Chicago photo).

Later that season in March 1959, Reiner led Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky. “The climactic ‘Battle on the Ice’ was approached with expansive calm and deliberation. . . . A conductor who tries to pile climax after climax into this work can never achieve the hair-raising thrust that Reiner drew from Margaret Hillis’s Chicago Symphony Chorus at such a moment,” observed Henahan in the Daily News. The Chorus “produced a pleasing sound in all voices and a more homogeneous tone than at any time since Miss Hillis began her missionary work in Chicago.” On March 7, Reiner, the Orchestra, and Chorus committed their performance to disc for RCA, collaborating for the first time in recording sessions.

The Chorus’s first recording with the Orchestra: Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, released by RCA in May 1960

Margaret Hillis directed the Chicago Symphony Chorus for thirty-seven years, preparing and leading concerts—in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as on tour to Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus—and amassing an award-winning discography. Following her death in February 1998, the Rosenthal Archives received her collection of papers, photographs, over 1,000 scores bearing her markings, awards (including nine Grammy statuettes), recordings, and memorabilia. Representing an exceptional and pioneering career, the collection is regularly accessed by researchers, scholars, and musicians.

In June 1994, following an international search, music director Daniel Barenboim appointed Duain Wolfe to succeed Hillis. Currently in his twenty-fourth season, Wolfe continues in Hillis’s tradition, maintaining the Chorus’s extraordinarily high standards of excellence.

*Due to scheduling conflicts, Reiner was unable to get the soloists—primarily Zinka Milanov and Jussi Björling—he wanted to record Verdi’s Requiem in Chicago. He, along with Leontyne Price, Rosalind Elias, Björling (in his last commercial recording), and Giorgio Tozzi, recorded it in Vienna in June 1960 with the Vienna Singverein and Philharmonic for RCA.

This article also appears in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s March 2018 program book and here.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to John Corigliano!

The recipient of numerous honors—including a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, the Grawemeyer Award, and multiple Grammy awards—Corigliano served as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence from 1987 until 1990.

The Orchestra first performed Corigliano’s Concerto for Piano in February 1969, with Sheldon Shkolnik as soloist and acting music director Irwin Hoffman on the podium. Under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, the Orchestra performed the Concerto for Clarinet with Larry Combs, as well as the Tournaments Overture on concerts in Orchestra Hall and during the 1985 tour to Europe, performing the work in Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, and London.

On March 15, 1990, music director designate Daniel Barenboim led the world premiere of Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, jointly commissioned for the Orchestra’s centennial by the Chicago Symphony and the Meet-the-Composer Orchestra Residencies Program.

“During the past decade I have lost many friends and colleagues to the AIDS epidemic, and the cumulative effect of those losses has, naturally, deeply affected me. My First Symphony was generated by feelings of loss, anger, and frustration,” wrote Corigliano in the program note for the premiere. “A few years ago, I was extremely moved when I first saw ‘The Quilt,’ an ambitious interweaving of several thousand fabric panels, each memorializing a person who had died of AIDS, and, most importantly, each designed and constructed by his or her loved ones. This made me want to memorialize in music those I have lost, and reflect on those I am losing.”

The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—featured principal cello John Sharp and, offstage, pianist Stephen Hough. The recording was recognized with two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition. Barenboim programmed the symphony again in 1992, also taking it on tour to Carnegie Hall, Madrid, and London.

Corigliano’s First Symphony also has been performed at the Ravinia Festival under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach in 1996 and Marin Alsop in 2003; Eschenbach also led performances in Orchestra Hall in 1998.

With the Orchestra, Neeme Järvi conducted the Pied Piper Fantasy with Sir James Galway; Eschenbach led The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra with Joshua BellWilliam Eddins conducted Phantasmagoria on The Ghosts of Versailles; and Leonard Slatkin has led Three Hallucinations, Fantasia on an Ostinato, and The Mannheim Rocket.

To celebrate Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday in 1987, associate conductor Kenneth Jean led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Corigliano’s Campane di RavelloWritten while on vacation in Ravello, Italy, the composer remarked, “On Sundays, the multitude of churches in Ravello and the surrounding towns play their bells, each in a different key and rhythm. The cacophony is gorgeous, and uniquely festive. My tribute to Sir Georg attempts to make the sections of the symphony orchestra sound like pealing bells: that tolling, filigreed with birdcalls in the woodwinds, provides the backdrop for a theme that grows more and more familiar as it is clarified. At the end, it is clear and joyous—a tribute to a great man.”

Jean also led the work on the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990, and current music director Riccardo Muti conducted it on September 19, 2015, on the Symphony Ball concert launching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 125th season.

Corigliano and Stephanie Jeong at the Harris Theater on October 2, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

MusicNOW, the Orchestra’s contemporary music series, kicked off its twentieth season on October 2, 2017, at the Harris Theater with a concert celebrating past composers-in-residence. Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek honored their predecessors by programming works by Anna Clyne, Osvaldo Golijov, and Mark-Anthony Turnage, along with—in attendance—Mason Bates, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, and Corigliano.

CSO violins Yuan-Qing Yu and Hermine Gagné, viola Danny Lai, and cello Kenneth Olsen performed Corigliano’s A Black November Turkey (in the composer’s string quartet arrangement), and violin Stephenie Jeong soloed in the Red Violin Caprices. The Chicago Classical Review’s Lawrence A. Johnson observed, “Jeong delivered a powerful tour de force performance, sensitively serving the pages of introspective melancholy and throwing off Corigliano’s artful retake on nineteenth-century Paganini-esque fiddle fireworks with blazing virtuosity and panache. It was wonderful to see the veteran composer join the CSO’s young associate concertmaster for a double curtain call.”

And next season, in January 2019, Thomas Hampson will perform the song “One Sweet Morning” from Corigliano’s song cycle One Sweet Morning, commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bramwell Tovey will conduct.

Happy, happy birthday!

Title page for the first printed edition of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Guest conductor George Szell led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on December 2 and 3, 1948, almost exactly four years following the work’s premiere on December 1, 1944, with Serge Koussevitzky leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the Chicago Daily News, Clarence Joseph Bulliet called the work, “violent and awesome in its contrasts, sometimes as stormy as the most sensational of modern music. Then it calmed down to rival in delicacy the classicism of Haydn and Beethoven between which it was programmed at Orchestra Hall Thursday night.” (Haydn’s Oxford Symphony opened the concert, followed by the Bartók and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, that featured the debut of Seymour Lipkin.) Felix Borowski, writing for the Chicago Sun, added, that Bartók’s Concerto was, “of more than ordinary worth . . . Modern, indeed it is, but there are ideas—often very beautiful ideas—in the course of it. The orchestration is rich and colorful, frequently with new and beguiling textures.”

Early in his tenure as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner first led the Orchestra in his friend and countryman’s work on October 13 and 15, 1955. “This wonderful score, a network of nerves spun and controlled by the most brilliant of nervous energies, was played as only great orchestras can play,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It is a superb work and a Reiner triumph.”

The following week, Reiner and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc on October 22; for RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton the recording engineer. In February 2016, Gramophone listed this release as one of the “finest recordings of Bartók’s music,” noting the “sheer fervour of Reiner’s direction . . . taut and agile . . . [his] precision and control is immediately apparent.”

The Orchestra has since recorded the work on five additional occasions, as follows:

During his year as principal conductor of the Ravinia Festival, Seiji Ozawa recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on June 30 and July 1, 1969, for AngelPeter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer. Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti conducted the Concerto for London on January 19 and 20, 1981, in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson was the producer and James Lock the balance engineer.

James Levine, Ravinia’s second music director, led sessions in Orchestra Hall on June 28, 1989, for Deutsche Grammophon. Steven Paul was executive producer, Christopher Alder the recording producer, and Gregor Zielinsky was balance engineer. During the 1990 tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Austria, Solti conducted the Orchestra in an all-Bartók program, video recorded at the Budapest Convention Centre on November 28, 1990, for London. Humphrey Burton directed the production, and Katya Krausova was producer, Eric Abraham the executive producer, and Michael Haas the audio producer.

Most recently, Pierre Boulez recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on November 30, 1992, for Deutsche Grammophon. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler the recording producer, Rainer Maillard the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Reinhild Schmidt were recording engineers. The release won 1994 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.

Guest conductor Rafael Payare makes his subscription concert debut leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on January 18 and 20, 2018.

From 1993 until 2000, recordings by Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were recorded and released by Teldec, following the acquisition of Erato by Warner Music in 1992. A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Teldec is below (all recordings were made in Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted).

Cover image: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s apartment buildings at 860-880 North Lake Shore Drive*

BERIO Continuo
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 9, 1993

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 11, 12, and 13, 1995

BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple May 23, 1997

BOULEZ Notations For Orchestra VII
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 28, 2000

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 77
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 15, 16, 17, 18, and 21, 1997

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 26, 27, and 28, 1996

CARTER Partita
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on June 1, 1994

DEBUSSY La mer
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 28 and 29, 2000

FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 13, 15, 16 and 17, 1997

FALLA The Three-Cornered Hat
Jennifer Larmore, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 22, 23, 24, and 25, 1997

Cover image: an aerial view of Chicago in 1945*

FURTWÄNGLER Symphony No. 2 in E Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 12, 13, 14 and 15, 2001

GERSHWIN Cuban Overture
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple May 23, 1997

HANNIBAL African Portraits
Alhaji “Papa” Bunka Susso, griot
Eye Plus One Drummers (Paul A. Cotton, Mesha’ch Silas, Enoch Williamson; Clifton Robinson, director)
Jevetta Steele, gospel singer
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, vocal
Hannibal Lokumbe Quartet (Hannibal Lokumbe, Ron Burton, Cecil McBee, Cecil Brooks III)
Barton Green, tenor
David van Abbema, baritone
Theodore Jones, baritone
Brian Smith, boy soprano
Morgan State University Choir
Nathan Carter, director
Kennedy-King College Community Chorus
Randall Johnson, director
Doris Ward Workshop Chorale
Lucius Robinson, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 4, 5, and 9, 1995

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on June 4 and 5, 1997

NIELSEN Concerto for Violin, Op. 33
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 8 and 9, 1996

ROUGET DE L’ISLE/Berlioz La Marseillaise
Plácido Domingo, tenor (recorded at the Hochschule für Musik Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 15, 1995

SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 3 and 7, 1994

SCHOENBERG Transfigured Night, Op. 4
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 3 and 7, 1994

SIBELIUS Concerto for Violin in D Minor, Op. 47
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 8 and 9, 1996

STRAUSS Concerto for Horn No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 11
Dale Clevenger, horn
Recorded October 2 and 5, 1998
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
2001 Grammy Award: Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)

Cover image: Marina City Building*

STRAUSS Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra in D Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alex Klein, oboe
Recorded October 2, 5, and 6, 1998
2001 Grammy Award: Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)

STRAUSS Duet-Concertino in F Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Larry Combs, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Recorded October 2 and 5, 1998
2001 Grammy Award: Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)

STRAVINSKY Concerto for Violin in D Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Recorded September 22, 23, and 24, 1994

STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 28 and 29, 2000

TAKEMITSU Visions
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 9, 1993

Cover image: Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building (now Sullivan Center)*

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 30, 1995

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 20, 1995

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 30, 31, February 1, and 4, 1997

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 26, 27, 28, and 30, 1995

Cover image: Old Colony Building*

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathéthique)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 5, 6, 7, and 10, 1998

WAGNER Overture to The Flying Dutchman
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 7, 1994

WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 7, 1994

WAGNER Prelude to Act 3 of Lohengrin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 7, 1994

WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 26, 1992

WAGNER Prelude to Act 3 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 6 and 8, 1999

WAGNER Prize Song from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (arranged for horn)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Dale Clevenger, horn
Recorded January 6 and 8, 1999

WAGNER Prelude and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 8 and 13, 1999

WAGNER Overture to Rienzi
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 6 and 13, 1999

WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 13, 1999

WAGNER Overture to Tannhäuser
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 7, 1994

WAGNER Prelude to Act 3 of Tannhäuser
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 8, 1999

WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 16, 1993

*Historic photographs of iconic Chicago buildings were provided to Teldec by David R. Phillips of the Chicago Architectural Photographing Company

Daniel Barenboim in 1990 (Jim Steere photo for Erato)

On March 15, 1990—at the beginning of an open rehearsal for donors and patrons—the Orchestral Association announced that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under its music director designate Daniel Barenboim would record exclusively for Erato Records. This would be the label’s first exclusive association with a major American orchestra, and it would begin with the world premiere of the Symphony no. 1 by John Corigliano, the Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence.

A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Erato is below (all recordings were made in 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 April 29, 30, May 1, and 4, 1993

BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 19, 22, 24, and 28, 1993

BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Janet Williams, soprano*
Thomas Hampson, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded September 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1992
*The fifth movement was re-recorded in a studio session with Williams as soloist on January 16, 1993.

BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 13, 14, and 18, 1993

BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 7, 8, and 9, 1993

BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 15 and 18, 1993

BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 19, 22, 24, and 28, 1993

BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1992

BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56a
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 19, 22, 24, and 28, 1993

CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1
Stephen Hough, piano
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 15, 16, and 17, 1990
1991 Grammy Awards: Best Orchestral Performance, Best Contemporary Composition

LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 1, 2, and 3, 1992

LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 3
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded 1, 2, and 3, 1992

MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded April 25, 26, 28, May 2, and 7, 1991

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op. 64
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 13, 14, 15, and 18, 1993

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 13, 14, 15, and 18, 1993

Barenboim and Perlman recording with the Orchestra in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 2 and 3, 1991

RAVEL Boléro
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 2 and 3, 1991, and March 16, 1992

RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe Orchestral Fragments (Second Series)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 2 and 3, 1991

RAVEL Pavane pour une infant défunte
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 2 and 3, 1991

RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 2 and 3, 1991

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Sheherazade, Op. 35
Samuel Magad, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 4, 5, and 6, 1993

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV The Tale of Tsar Saltan Suite
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 21, 22, 23, and 24, 1993

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Annen Polka, Op. 117
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Egyptian March, Op. 335
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Emperor Waltz, Op. 437
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 16, September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. and J. STRAUSS Pizzicato Polka
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Sr. Radetsky March, Op. 228
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Tales from the Vienna Woods, Op, 325
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 16, 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Thunder and Lightning Polka, Op. 324
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 16, September 19, and 26, 1992

J. STRAUSS, Jr. Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, Op. 214
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 16, September 19, and 26, 1992

R. STRAUSS An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 24, 25, 26, and 29, 1992

R. STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 28, 1990

R. STRAUSS Don Quixote, Op. 35
John Sharp, cello
Charles Pickler, viola
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 28, 1991

R. STRAUSS Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 24, 25, 26, and 28, 1992

R. STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Samuel Magad, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 24 and 25, 1990

R. STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 24 and 25, 1990

VERDI Messa da Requiem
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 20 and 21, 1993

WAGNER Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, Siegfried’s Death and Funeral Procession, and Brünnhilde’s Immolation from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Deborah Polaski, soprano
Recorded October 7 and 8, 1991

WAGNER Forest Murmurs from Siegfried
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 8, 1991

WAGNER The Ride of the Valkryies from Die Walküre
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 7 and 8, 1991

Between 1972 and 1981, Daniel Barenboim made a number of recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, returning to the label in 2003 for a release of piano concertos with Lang Lang.

A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Deutsche Grammophon is below (all recordings were made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 61
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 26, 1977

BORODIN Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1977

BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3, and 10
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in a recording session for Bruckner’s Psalm 150 in Orchestra Hall on March 3, 1979 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

BRUCKNER Psalm 150
Ruth Welting, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 0 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 9, 10, and 13, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1981

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13 and 15, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November 1, 1972

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 6 and 7, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 6 and 9, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

BRUCKNER Te Deum
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1981

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C Major, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

ELGAR Concerto for Violin in B Minor, Op. 61
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 23 and 24, 1981
1982 Grammy Award: Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist

LISZT Les préludes
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Piano in G Minor, Op. 25
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 24 and 25, 2003

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 7 and 10, 1979

MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bald Mountain
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

NICOLAI Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 (Organ)
Gaston Litaize, organ (recorded at the Cathédral Notre-Dame de Chartres, France)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

SCHUMANN Konzertstück for Four Horns in F Major, Op. 86
Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, Thomas Howell, and Norman Schweikert, horns
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

Barenboim leads CSO horns Norman Schweikert, Thomas Howell, Richard Oldberg, and Dale Clevenger in a recording session for Schumann’s Konzertstück in Orchestra Hall in March 1977 (Christian Steiner photo)

SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 28, 1975

SMETANA The Moldau from Má vlast
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27 and 28, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Concerto for Piano No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 21 and 24, 2003

TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25 and 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

Arnold Jacobs, CSO principal tuba from 1944 until 1988

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Bass Tuba in F Minor
Arnold Jacobs, tuba
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

WEBER/Berlioz Invitation to the Dance, Op, 65
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

WEBER Overture to Oberon
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3 and 7, 1979

During Sir Georg Solti‘s tenure as eighth music director (1969–1991) and music director laureate (1991–1997), he and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus amassed an astonishing discography. Decca Classics—to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Solti’s death—is releasing a set of these complete recordings in a 108-CD boxed set.

“Recording with the Chicago Symphony was the fulfillment of Solti’s dreams and ambitions, to be able to record for posterity the ephemeral quality and emotions of a performance by this world-class ensemble,” writes Lady Valerie Solti in the accompanying book. “The orchestra were enthusiasts, hard workers, and brilliant musicians who were as eager as Solti to make first-class records and to create for the future a lasting document, a legacy of their wonderful relationship, a collaboration which won worldwide acclaim and unparalleled Grammy awards.” The 180-page hardcover book also includes articles by mezzo-soprano Yvonne Minton; producer and author Humphrey Burton; Martha Gilmer, who served as the Orchestra’s vice president for artistic planning during the latter half of Solti’s tenure; and CSO archivist Frank Villella; along with previously unpublished images from recording sessions.

The range of repertoire is vast: complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven (twice, see here and here), Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here); Beethoven’s piano concertos; world premieres of Del Tredici’s Final Alice and Tippett’s Symphony no. 4 and Byzantium; complete operas including Beethoven’s FidelioSchoenberg’s Moses und AronVerdi’s Otelloand Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The set also includes hallmarks of the choral repertoire, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe) performing Bach’s Mass in B minor and Saint Matthew PassionBeethoven’s Missa solemnisBerlioz’s The Damnation of FaustBrahms’s A German Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation (twice) and The Seasons, Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and Verdi’s Requiem, plus many more works by these composers along with Bartók, Berg, Debussy, Dohnányi, Dvořák, Kodály, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Weiner.

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

Solti wrote in his Memoirs, “My term as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was the happiest time in my professional life . . . the fulfillment of my dreams, but at the same time, it was a new learning experience for me, a master class in musical directorship.” This set is a testament to that remarkable partnership.

The set releases in the United States on September 15, 2017, and is available here.

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Theodore Thomas

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The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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