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Assembly on Parade Ground at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Kauffman & Fabry, U.S. 1918

Thousands of soldiers stand in formation at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in this 1918 image at right from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections.

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During the second decade of the twentieth century, Chicago was an extraordinary hub of cultural activity. Art, architecture, literature politics, music, and sports all contributed to the city’s vibrant landscape.

Chicago Grand Opera Company program and Mary Garden (Herman Mishkin, Library of Congress)

The Chicago Grand Opera Company—the city’s first resident opera company—opens its first season on November 3, 1910, at the Auditorium Theatre. Cleofante Campanini conducts Verdi’s Aida with Janina Korolewicz in the title role, Nicola Zerola as Radamès, and Eleanor de Cisneros as Amneris. The fourth and final season of the company comes to a close on January 31, 1914, with a matinee of Février’s Monna Vanna starring Mary Garden and an evening performance of Flotow’s Martha with Jenny Dufau and Ralph Errolle under the baton of Arnold Winternitz.

Fine Arts Building (V.O. Hammon Publishing Company) and Rue Winterbotham Carpenter (Paul Thevenaz, Collection of the Arts Club of Chicago)

In 1912, Ellen Van Volkenburg and Maurice Browne establish the Chicago Little Theatre, performing Greek classics, works by contemporary writers, and puppetry at the Fine Arts Building. Founded in March 1916, the Arts Club of Chicago also moves into the Fine Arts Building on the fifth floor, and charter members include Rue Winterbotham Carpenter and her husband, composer John Alden Carpenter, along with Frederick Stock.

Ravinia Park and Poetry: A Magazine of Verse

During the first season of the Ravinia Opera Company in 1912, Gustav Hinrichs leads the Orchestra in acts and extended scenes from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and La bohème; Verdi’s Aida , La traviata, and Il trovatore; Massenet’s Thaïs; Gounod’s Faust; Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor; and Wagner’s Lohengrin. On August 21, the company presents its first full-length production: Masagani’s Cavalleria rusticana with Jane Abercrombie as Santuzza and Henri Baron as Turriddu.

Founded by Harriet Monroe, the first edition of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse is published in Chicago in October 1912.

Roosevelt in the Auditorium Theatre (Moffett Studio, Library of Congress)

The 1912 Progressive “Bull Moose” Party Convention culminates at the Auditorium Theatre on August 6 with Theodore Roosevelt, president from 1901 until 1909, proclaiming, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!” He had attempted and failed to wrangle the Republican nomination from his successor and incumbent president William Howard Taft, so Roosevelt’s supporters declared their independence and formed a third party behind their candidate, who boasted he felt “strong as a bull moose.” Democratic New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson won the November 5 election in a landslide against the divided Republicans.

In April 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art is mounted at the Art Institute of Chicago, introducing local audiences to the works of Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, and Pablo Picasso, among numerous others. Students at the School of the Art Institute hold a mock trial of “Henry Hair Mattress” (Henri Matisse), finding him guilty of “artistic murder, pictorial arson . . . and contumacious abuse of title” and burning copies of his Blue Nude, Luxury II, Red Madras Headdress, and The Red StudioThe articles are here and here.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s subscriber card and Morton’s Jelly Roll Blues William and Frederick Starmer, Will Rossiter Publishing)

An occasional Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscriber, Frank Lloyd Wright also has an office in Orchestra Hall from 1913 until 1916. (It has long been rumored that he skipped out without paying his final months’ rent.)

While living in Chicago, Ferd “Jelly Roll” Morton publishes his Jelly Roll Blues in 1915, widely acknowledged as the first published jazz composition.

On October 14, 1917, composer and pianist Ignace Paderewski gives a speech to over 40,000 people— “the largest Polish assemblage ever seen in Chicago,” according to the Chicago Tribune—at the Dexter Park Pavilion (a horse racing track located next to the Union Stock Yards) advocating for a Poland free of Austro-Hungarian rule. The article is here.

“King” Oliver and his band  (Frank Driggs Collection)

In early 1918, Joe “King” Oliver moves to Chicago, bringing his New Orleans brass and dance band style with him. To win over northern audiences, many jazz bands played up their southern roots while drawing on stereotypes made familiar through minstrel shows, as can be seen in this image. Oliver’s style also was called “hot jazz,” later inspiring the name of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven bands of the 1920s. By the end of the decade, Chicago develops a style all its own, emerging as an important center for the genre.

Geraldine Farrar (Bain Collection, Library of Congress) and Carl Sandburg (National Park Service)

Geraldine Farrar is the star of the Chicago Opera Association’s first season opening in November 1915, appearing in the title roles in Puccini’s Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Bizet’s Carmen, and Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust.

In 1916, Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems is published. He is soon awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Cornhuskers, published in 1918 and written while he lived in Evanston and Elmhurst, Illinois.

Chicago White Sox (Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

The Chicago White Sox win the 1917 World Series on October 15, defeating the New York Giants in game six. The winning team included outfielders “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Shano Collins, Happy Felsch, Eddie Murphy, and Nemo Leibold.

War Exposition (Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

The U.S. Government War Exposition travels to Grant Park and nearly two million Chicagoans visit between September 2 and 15, 1918. Designed to encourage public support of the war, the exposition includes displays of new technologies, trench warfare and weaponry, and medical treatments.

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A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.

This article also appears here. For event listings, please visit cso.org/armistice.

This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.

Additional thanks to Shawn Sheehy and Jenna Harmon, along with the Arts Club of Chicago, Newberry Library, Poetry Foundation, and Ravinia Festival Association.

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In addition to releases with Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, and Teldec, Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra made commercial recordings on several other labels. A complete list is below (all recordings made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

Barenboim and du Pré at Medinah Temple on November 11, 1970 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

Barenboim made his conducting debut with the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, on a concert at Michigan State University. The first work on that first program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, and the soloist was Barenboim’s wife, Jacqueline du Pré. One week later, they recorded the work—along with the same composer’s Silent Woods—with the Orchestra at Medinah Temple.

DVOŘÁK Concerto for Cello in B Minor, Op. 104
DVOŘÁK Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 68
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on November 11, 1970
Angel Records

On January 26, 1998, in Orchestra Hall, Barenboim led—from the podium and the keyboard—a special concert called Star-Crossed Lovers, featuring Renée Fleming and Plácido Domingo in songs, arias, and duets along with narrators Lynn Redgrave and Timothy Dalton. The concert was recorded for a Great Performances telecast and a London Records release.

Domingo and Fleming on January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

BERNSTEIN Prologue, Tonight, Rumble, and Somewhere from West Side Story
ELLINGTON In a sentimental mood, Do nothin’ till you hear from me, and Prelude to a kiss
GARDEL El día que me quieras
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . Ô nuit d’amour! from Faust
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
MORENO-TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte! and Jota castellana
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor
Recorded January 26, 1998
London Records

Barenboim led the Orchestra in the world premiere of composer-in-residence Shulamit Ran’s Legends in October 1993 and programmed the work again in June 2004. A recording of the second set of performances—along with Ran’s Violin Concerto, performed by Ittai Shapira with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Charles Hazlewood—was released by Albany Records in 2007.

RAN Legends
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded June 3, 4, 5, and 8, 2004
Albany Records

Three videos featuring the Orchestra and Barenboim, performing at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany, were also released, on the Arthaus Musik and EuroArts labels.

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

SIBELIUS Concerto for Violin in D Minor, Op. 47
*BACH Sarabande from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
*YSAŸE Ballad from Sonata No. 3 in D Minor
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on June 8 and 9, 1997
*Solo encores performed by Vengerov
Arthaus Musik

BOULEZ Notations for Orchestra I-IV
DEBUSSY La mer
FALLA The Three-Cornered Hat
*MORES/Carli El firulete
Elisabete Matos, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on April 27 and 28, 2001
*Performed as an encore
EuroArts

In conjunction with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s annual Symphonython (previously Marathon and Radiothon) fundraiser, a themed collection of radio broadcasts was offered as a donation premium. Several works led by Barenboim were included on various sets, and one collection was dedicated solely to him.

Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration
From the Archives, vol. 13 (1998)

BACH Singet dem Herr nein neues Lied, BWV 225
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 11 and 14, 1991

SCHUBERT Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, D. 714
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 9, 1991

Beethoven
From the Archives, vol. 17 (2003)

BEETHOVEN Elegy, Op. 118
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe and Cheryl Frazes Hill, directors
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 17, 1994

A Tribute to Daniel Barenboim
From the Archives, vol. 20 (2006)

BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 15, 1997

BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Birgitta Svendén, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15 and 16, 1996

FALLA El amor brujo
Jennifer Larmore, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 22, 1997

HAYDN Symphony No. 48 in C Major (Maria Theresa)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 20, 1993

MONIUSZKO Mazurka from Halka
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, September 21, 1991

MORES/Carli El firulete
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15, 2001

MOZART Finale Scene from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Lella Cuberli, Joan Rodgers, Dawn Kotoski, sopranos
Cecilia Bartoli, Mimi Lerner, mezzo-sopranos
Graham Clark, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, Michele Pertusi, Peter Rose, Günther von Kannen, basses
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 2, 7, and 12, 1992

SCHUBERT Psalm 23, D. 706
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Recorded October 3, 1996

THOMAS Ceremonial
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 6, 2000

WAGNER A Faust Overture
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 18, 1991

WOLF Der Feurreiter
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe and Cheryl Frazes Hill, directors
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 17, 1994

Soloists of the Orchestra III
From the Archives, vol. 21

FISHER/Gould Chicago
Larry Combs, clarinet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Petrillo Music Shell, September 1991

BOULEZ Messagesquisse for Seven Cellos
John Sharp, solo cello
Stephen Balderston, Phillip Blum, Loren Brown, Richard Hirschl, Jonathan Pegis, and Gary Stucka, cellos
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
September 22, 1994

Additionally, two large collections of radio broadcast material were released as commercial recordings: a twelve-disc set to celebrate the the Orchestra’s centennial in 1990 and a ten-disc set as a retrospective of the twentieth century in 2000.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The First 100 Years (1990)

SCRIABIN Symphony No. 4, Op. 54 (The Poem of Ecstasy)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 14, and 16, 1984

BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded November 28, 1977

RAN Concerto for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 20, 22, and 25, 1988

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Twentieth Century: Collector’s Choice (2000)

BUSONI Lustspiel Overture, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 4, 1996

MOZART/Busoni Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 284
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 8, 1996

BEETHOVEN Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85
Laura Aikin, soprano
Ben Heppner, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15 and 16, 1996

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December 8, 1893

December 8, 1893

The Art Institute of Chicago opened its new building—completed in time for the second year of the World’s Columbian Exposition—on December 8, 1893, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. For the opening reception, Theodore Thomas and the Orchestra performed Schubert’s Three Marches (from the Six Grand Marches, D. 819, orchestrated by Thomas), the second movement of Beethoven’s Second Symphony, Dvořák’s Second Slavonic Rhapsody, Goldmark’s Serenade from The Rustic Wedding, the Elegy and Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for String Orchestra, and Wagner’s Forest Murmurs from Siegfried.

The Spirit of Music in its original location on Michigan Avenue

The Spirit of Music in its original location on Michigan Avenue

The Art Institute’s south garden was the first site of The Spirit of Music, a memorial to Thomas, originally dedicated on April 24, 1924. It was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and sculpted by Albin Polasek. Subsequently moved on multiple occasions and even temporarily presumed to be lost, the memorial ultimately was moved to Grant Park at the intersection of Michigan and Balbo avenues and rededicated on October 18, 1991, at the conclusion of the Orchestra’s centennial celebration.

Directly behind the statue is a carved frieze including images of musicians. In its center is an inscription with text culled from a telegram sent from Ignace Paderewski to Rose Fay Thomas on January 5, 1905, the day following her husband’s death. Upon hearing the news, Paderewski had written: “Scarcely any man in any land has done so much for the musical education of the people as did Theodore Thomas in this country. The nobility of his ideals with the magnitude of his achievement will assure him everlasting glory.”

This article also appears here and portions previously appeared here and here.

Placido Domingo

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to Plácido Domingo, celebrating his seventh-fifth!

The legendary singer has appeared in Chicago on both concert and opera stages, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and conductor at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and several other venues in Chicago and in Europe. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

October 9, 1987 (special concert celebrating Sir Georg Solti‘s seventy-fifth birthday)
J. STRAUSS, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor
VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
David Huneryager, baritone
Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti 75

October 9, 1987 (Jim Steere photo)

June 27, 1992 (Ravinia Festival)
SAINT SAËNS Samson and Delilah
James Levine, conductor
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
David Anderson, tenor
John Concepcion, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone
Sergei Koptchak, bass
Paul Grizzell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 27, 1994 (Petrillo Music Shell, Grant Park)
Miguel Roa, conductor
Veronica Villaroel, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
SOROZÁBAL Madrileña bonita from La del manojo de Rosas
MORENO TORROBA Los vareadores from Luisa Fernanda
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
PENELLA Torero quiero ser from El gato montés
MORENO TORROBA De este apacible rincón from Luisa Fernanda
GUERRERO Fiel espada from El Huésped del Sevillano
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
CABALLERO No cantes mas from El duo de la Africana
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
SERRANO Te quiero Morena from El trust de los tenorios
LARA Granada

July 6, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Plácido Domingo, conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
SAINT SAËNS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Sarah Chang, violin
SARASATE Concert Fantasies on Carmen, Op. 25
Sarah Chang, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

July 8, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Eugene Kohn, conductor
Kallen Esperian, soprano
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
MOZART Ma qual mai soffre, O Dei, from Don Giovanni, K. 527
VERDI Quando le sere al placido from Luisa Miller
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MEYERBEER O, Paradis! from L’africaine
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore

May 2, 1996 (special concert celebrating Daniel Barenboim‘s Silver Jubilee)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
BERLIOZ Invocation to Nature from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
VERDI Otello’s Death from Otello
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
TCHAIKOVSKY Lenski’s Aria from Eugene Onegin

May 12, 1997 (United Center)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Elizabeth Futral, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MASCAGNI Suzel, buon dì! from L’amico Fritz
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
MOZART Là ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni, K. 527
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
LARA Granada
VERDI Brindisi—Libiamo, libiamo ne’ lieti calici from La traviata

Star-Crossed Lovers

January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

May 13, 15, 16, and 17, 1997 (Medinah Temple)
June 8 and 9, 1997 (Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany)
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 4, 1997 (Symphony Center Opening Night Gala)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
VERDI Niun mi tema from Otello

January 26, 1998 (Star-Crossed Lovers)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana

May 25, 26, 27, and 30, 2000
Plácido Domingo, conductor
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Rachel Barton, violin
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

August 4, 2007 (Ravinia Festival)
James Conlon, conductor
Ana María Martínez, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
PENELLA Duet from El gato montés
LARA Granada
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow

Domingo also recorded with the Orchestra on three occasions:

VERDI Requiem
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on September 20 and 21, 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Erato
(Verdi’s Requiem was performed on September 17, 18, 23, and 25, 1993, with Vicente Ombuena singing the tenor solos; Domingo was in Chicago only on September 20.)

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

Star-Crossed Lovers
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 26, 1998
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
London

Happy, happy birthday!

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01-004 029 Union Stock Yards_1925-26

On November 16, 1925, Frederick Stock and the Orchestra inaugurated a series of Popular Concerts at Chicago’s Union Stock Yards. “The International Amphitheatre, as many thousands of persons know, is customarily devoted to horse shows, stock shows, contests, exhibitions generally,” wrote Edward Moore in the Chicago Tribune. “Last night its scheme was considerably altered. A stage surmounted by a heavy awning had been erected at the east end for the Orchestra and the arena filled with chairs for the audience. Instead of four-footed animals seeking prizes, it was inhabited by two-footed humans seeking—and finding—good music.”

“Buyers and breeders of butcher’s meat will throng next week to the great amphitheater at 43rd and Halsted streets, as the International Live Stock Exposition gets under way,” reported the Chicago Daily News. “But last night people came with a different hunger and listened to something far removed from the lowing and bleating of beasts. . . . [Following the concert, Stock said] ‘Oh, it is too bad we waited so long to try this. We will have many, many more people here next time, don’t worry; and I am looking forward to these concerts as a most extraordinary feature of the season. I think this is a service all orchestras should undoubtedly perform. I am going to enjoy the concerts tremendously.’ ”

Throughout its history, the Orchestra has presented affordable as well as free concerts in a variety of Chicago community locations. During the summer of 1934 at the Swift Bridge of Service (which linked the mainland with Northerly Island at 23rd Street), 125 concerts were given as part of the Century of Progress International Exposition. Symphony in the Streets concerts were given in 1971 in several outdoor locations in Chicago neighborhoods. In the summer of 1935, the Orchestra performed many concerts during the first season of the festival in Grant Park and it has returned on numerous occasions, including concerts celebrating new music directors: Daniel Barenboim at the Petrillo Music Shell on September 21, 1991, and Riccardo Muti at the Pritzker Pavilion on September 19, 2010.

This article also appears here.

Richard Kanter headshot

Richard Kanter, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s oboe section from 1961 until 2002, passed away on Friday evening, October 10. He was 79.

A native Chicagoan, Kanter was born in 1935 and began studying the oboe at the age of fourteen with CSO oboe and english horn Robert Mayer. After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his teachers included Marcel Tabuteau and John de Lancie; he also studied with CSO principal oboe Ray Still and Robert Bloom. While a student, Kanter played principal oboe for the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra for one season and english horn with the Grant Park Symphony for several summers.

After graduation from Curtis, he served as first oboe for the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. for four years, traveling to every state in the continental United States. Following his military service, Kanter joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s oboe section at the invitation of Fritz Reiner in 1961, where he served for forty-one years—under music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—before retiring in 2002. In his retirement, Kanter was an active member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association, serving several years a member and officer of the board of directors. He also was an oboe and english horn coach with the Asian Youth Orchestra, based in Hong Kong.

Ray Still and Richard Kanter onstage at Orchestra Hall in the 1970s

Ray Still and Richard Kanter onstage at Orchestra Hall in the 1970s

Richard is survived by his beloved wife of forty-six years, Janet; his children David (Rebecca) Kanter and Rachel (Eric) Hoglund; and grandchildren. There will be a chapel service Tuesday, October 14, at 12:15 p.m. at Shalom Memorial Funeral Home, 1700 West Rand Road in Arlington Heights. Interment will follow at Shalom Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Magen David Adom. For information and to leave tributes and condolences, please call 847.255.3520 or visit www.shalom2.com.

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On October 18, 1991, Sir Georg Solti, along with one of his predecessors (Rafael Kubelík) as well as his successor (Daniel Barenboim) came together to bring the centennial celebration to a grand conclusion.

In the afternoon, The Spirit of Music—a statue celebrating the memory and legacy of the Orchestra’s founder, Theodore Thomas—was rededicated in Grant Park.

And later that evening, the Orchestra recreated its very first concert with all three conductors sharing the podium.


October 16 and 17, 1891

October 18, 1991

It seems like summer has finally arrived in Chicago, and today was one of those spectacular days that almost makes the winter seem worth it.

So, I took a walk down Michigan Avenue to one of my favorite places, the Theodore Thomas memorial in Grant Park: The Spirit of Music, crafted by sculptor Albin Polasek.

The statue was originally erected in 1924 in the south garden of the Art Institute, directly across the street from Orchestra Hall. Subsequently, it was moved a couple of times and was even presumed to be lost for a while. In its current location (in the park’s music garden), the monument was rededicated during the end of the CSO’s centennial celebration in October 1991.

Directly behind the statue, there is a carved frieze with images of musicians. In the very center is an inscription with text culled from a telegram sent to Rose Fay Thomas by Ignace Paderewski on January 5, 1905. Paderewski, a dear friend and frequent collaborator, had just heard the news of Thomas’s passing and wrote:

“The entire musical world joins you and family in deepest sorrow over your terrible bereavement. The passing away of your illustrious husband is an irreparable loss to our art for scarcely any man in any land has done so much for the musical education of the people as did Theodore Thomas in this country. The purity of his character, firmness of his principles, nobility of his ideals, together with the magnitude of his achievements will assure him everlasting glory in the history of artistic culture. Personally I deplore from the bottom of my soul the loss of one of my very dearest and most beloved friends. To you madame who have been devoted companion of the great departed, to you who have given him so much happiness we send both the homage of our profound affliction and mournful sympathy.”

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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