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Wishing the happiest of birthdays to conductor Herbert Blomstedt, celebrating his ninetieth today!

Over the past thirty years, Maestro Blomstedt has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on several occasions:

January 7, 9, 9, and 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Ivan Moravec, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

February 22, 23, 24, and 27, 1990
HADYN Symphony No. 86 in D Major
LADERMAN Cello Concerto (world premiere)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70

January 24, 25, 26, and 29, 1991
SIBELIUS The Swan of Tuonela from Four Legends of the Kalevala, Op. 22
Grover Schiltz, english horn
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Rubén González, violin
NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (Sinfonia espansiva)
Jane Green, soprano
William Diana, baritone

Herbert Blomstedt (Martin Lengemann photo)

March 5, 6, 7, and 11, 1998
MENDELSSOHN The Hebrides Overture, Op. 26
DUTILLEUX Tout un monde lointain . . .
Lynn Harrell, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

June 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2007
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Annalena Persson, soprano
Ingeborg Danz, contralto
Robert Künzli, tenor
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

Blomstedt’s colleagues at the Berlin Philharmonic have just posted this delightful tribute (added on July 14, 2017):

Happy, happy birthday!

Herbert Blomstedt appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on March 1, 2, and 3, 2018, leading Mozart’s Symphony no. 39 and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3.

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Moravec

The gifted Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, who appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, died earlier today, July 27, 2015. He was 84.

Moravec’s appearances with the Orchestra were as follows:

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980
FRANCK Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Garcia Navarro, conductor

January 7, 8, 9 & 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

November 12, 13, 14 & 17, 1998
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Yaron Traub, conductor
(Traub replaced Riccardo Chailly, who canceled due to illness.)

caption info

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980

According to an obituary in Gramophone, Moravec “focused on the ‘central’ Romantic repertoire as well as music by Czech composers. Talking to Bryce Morrison for Gramophone‘s March 2004 issue, Moravec said: ‘My own recordings are a distillation of years of work and listening, of having my tape recorder always at hand. I would agree with [Arthur] Rubinstein who after recording would listen to the playback and say, “Now I have my piano lesson.” But unlike Rubinstein my conception of the relatively few works I have recorded has not radically altered, has remained loyal to my first thoughts and feelings. I have always taken my time and although I have learned and practiced a large repertoire (Ravel’s Gaspard, Rachmaninov, etc.) I have never felt ready to play most of it in public. . . . Life is so short and I have concentrated on what I feel I do best.'”

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the remarkable mezzo-soprano, Dame Janet Baker. Several excellent tributes have been written (here and here, among many others) to recognize her extraordinary career as an artist—in opera, concert, and on recording.

xx

Janet Baker recording Verdi’s Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Medinah Temple in June 1977

Dame Janet appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on four occasions, all at Orchestra Hall:

January 15, 16, and 18, 1976
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été
Sir Georg Solti, conductor (January 15 and 16)
Henry Mazer, conductor (January 18)

May 31, 1977
VERDI Requiem
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

April 20, 21, and 22, 1978
RAVEL Shéhérazade
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 3, 4, and 6, 1984
ELGAR Sea Pictures, Op. 37
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Of course, the 1977 interpretation of Verdi’s Requiem was recorded by RCA in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2. Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer (this was one of the few records Solti made independent of London/Decca). The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

One of Dame Janet’s signature works—and the vehicle for her CSO debut—was Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été. Here’s the second song from the cycle (“Le spectre de la rose”) from a March 1972 concert conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

____________________________________________________

To honor Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus gave a gala concert of the highest order on October 9, 1987.

Governor James R. Thompson opened the concert with welcoming remarks, and after the intermission, Mayor Harold Washington presented Sir Georg with the City of Chicago’s Medal of Merit. The concert program was as follows:

CORIGLIANO Campane di Ravello (world premiere)
Kenneth Jean, conductor

J. STRAUSS Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor

MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Sir Georg Solti, conductor and piano
Murray Perahia, piano

STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Plácido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa perform a scene from Verdi’s Otello

VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
David Huneryager, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

The commemorative program contained letters and testimonials from numerous public officials, conductors, musicians, and industry professionals, including: Ronald Reagan, James R. Thompson, Harold Washington, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Carlo Maria Giulini, Rafael Kubelík, John Corigliano, Christoph von Dohnányi, Rudolf Serkin, Henry Fogel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christa Ludwig, Birgit Nilsson, Witold Lutosławski, Sir Charles Mackerras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Klaus Tennstedt, David Del Tredici, Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin, Werner Klemperer, José van Dam, Elliott Carter, Karel Husa, Isaac Stern, Morton Gould, Hans Werner Henze, Itzhak Perlman, Anja Silja, Erich Leinsdorf, Josef Suk, Plácido Domingo, Michael Tippett, Kiri Te Kanawa, Murray Perahia, Leontyne Price, András Schiff, Kenneth Jean, Andrzej Panufnik, Dame Janet Baker, Pierre Boulez, Yvonne Minton, Herbert Blomstedt, Mira Zakai, Margaret Hillis, Gunther Herbig, Ray Minshull, Ann Murray, Philip Langridge, Raymond Leppard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, George Rochberg, Gwynne Howell, Ardis Krainik, Michael Morgan, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Henry Mancini, and Barbara Hendricks.

Solti and Perahia as soloists in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos

The concert was covered widely in the press, in the Chicago Tribune (here, here, and here) and Sun-Times (here and here), as well as Time, Newsweek, the Post-Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among many others.

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Theodore Thomas

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Last night - Maestro Riccardo Muti and the CSO with pianist Kirill Gerstein (@kgerstein) perform Puccini’s Preludio sinfonico, R. Strauss’ Suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. Photos by @toddrphoto.

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