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Ned Rorem in 1984 (Jack Mitchell photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of American pianist, diarist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Ned Rorem. He died at his home in Manhattan on November 18, 2022, at the age of ninety-nine.

Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana, on October 23, 1923, and his family soon moved to Chicago. He expressed a talent for music at a young age and attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and the American Conservatory of Music. As a young musician, he regularly attended concerts in Orchestra Hall, where he “was exposed to contemporary music simultaneously with the standard classics. From the very start, I saw—heard—that the present was every bit as vital as the past, a truth made obvious when the two were interlarded.” Rorem later attended Northwestern University, the Curtis Institute, and the Juilliard School.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed a number of Rorem’s works, including the world premiere of Goodbye My Fancy, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of its centennial season. “Goodbye My Fancy finds, both musically and expressively, the inner coherence it strives for,” John von Rhein wrote in the Chicago Tribune, following the first performance on November 8, 1990. “Rorem’s music remains blissfully oblivious to the blandishments of what used to be called modernism: the score is dated 1988 but sounds as if it could been written thirty years earlier. No American composer sets American words more sensitively; no composer is more alive to Whitman’s fierce passions. Rorem’s choral writing savors leanness, elegance and subtlety, even when it roars. The deployment of massed and solo voices with instruments is telling, the cumulative impact affecting. . . . the shining stars of the occasion were the Chicago Symphony Chorus. As prepared by director Margaret Hillis, the CSO contingent sang with firm consonants, clear vowels, full and forward tone and fervent dedication. They were magnificent to hear. Goodbye My Fancy is a work that deserves to be in the repertory of America’s best symphony choruses. But I doubt that any of them will be able to make its Whitmanesque music leap off the page more exactly or vividly than Hillis’s sterling ensemble.”

A complete list of his works performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is below:

August 4, 1959, Ravinia Festival
ROREM Symphony No. 3
Alfred Wallenstein, conductor

November 12 and 13, 1959, Orchestra Hall
ROREM Design for Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor

July 14, 1962, Ravinia Festival
ROREM Eagles
William Steinberg, conductor

Leonard Slatkin, Margaret Hillis, Ned Rorem, John Cheek, and Wendy White following the world premiere of Goodbye My Fancy on November 8, 1990 (Jim Steere photo)

June 15 and 16, 1972, Orchestra Hall
ROREM Piano Concerto in Six Movements
Irwin Hoffman, conductor
Jerome Lowenthal, piano

January 6, 7, and 9, 1977, Orchestra Hall
ROREM Air Music, Ten Variations for Orchestra
Guido Ajmone-Marsan, conductor

April 24, 25, and 26, 1986, Orchestra Hall
ROREM An American Oratorio
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 8, 9, and 10, 1990, Orchestra Hall
ROREM Goodbye My Fancy (world premiere)
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Wendy White, mezzo-soprano
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

On June 3, 1990, Rorem made a rare appearance as a pianist in Orchestra Hall, accompanying soprano Arleen Augér. “The idea of pairing Augér, one of the few American singers who really care about American vocal music, with composer-pianist Rorem, who has done more than any other living American to cultivate the art of native song, was an inspired one,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “Fully half of the program was given over to his songs. Throughout the program, Rorem’s accompaniments were rich in the special insights perhaps only a composer who happens to be a skilled pianist can bring to them.”

Numerous tributes have been posted online, including AP News, NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among several others.

Ned Rorem and former CSO Composer-in-Residence John Corigliano give a pre-concert conversation in Orchestra Hall’s ballroom on November 8, 1990

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Vladimir Ashkenazy (Wayne J. Shilkret photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family wishes the magnificent pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy a very happy eighty-fifth birthday!

Ashkenazy catapulted onto the world stage in 1955 after winning second prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. He was awarded first prize in both the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956 and the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962.

“Pound for pound, he may be the most pyrotechnic pianist in the whole world,” wrote Seymour Raven in the Chicago Tribune, following Ashkenazy’s Orchestra Hall recital debut, presented under the auspices of Allied Arts on October 19, 1958. Seven years later, after his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut in Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, Thomas Willis (also in the Tribune) commented, the “volcanic [pianist], whose two previous recitals here marked him as a man to watch, had everything it takes to get the locomotor going full speed and most of the qualities to sustain momentum. The big tone for melodies framed the structure in iron. The bravura technique took in stride the hammering octaves, scales which sweep the keyboard, and arpeggio lightning which galvanizes the Russian bear intermezzo into a furious climax. . . . This combination of work, soloist, and orchestra could lift you right out of your seat more than once.”

During the first tour to Europe in 1971, Ashkenazy joined the Orchestra on the first leg in Edinburgh on September 5, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 under Georg Solti. In May 1971 and 1972, he recorded Beethoven’s five piano concertos with the CSO, again with Solti conducting. Recording sessions took place at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and for London Records, the recording was produced by David Harvey and Kenneth Wilkinson was the recording engineer. The set of all five concertos won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra).

For nearly fifty years, Vladimir Ashkenazy was a regular visitor to the stage in Orchestra Hall. In January 2020, he announced that he would be retiring from public performance, capping a career that spanned nearly seventy years.

A complete list of his appearances—with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as a piano recitalist, and as a guest conductor with visiting orchestras—is below.

October 28, 29, and 30, 1965, Orchestra Hall
November 1, 1965, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

March 27, 1967, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
30 and 31, 1967, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Jean Martinon, conductor

July 25, 1968, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Alfred Wallenstein, conductor

Ashkenazy, Solti, and David Harvey listening to playbacks of Beethoven’s piano concertos in May 1971 at the Krannert Center (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

December 5, 6, and 7, 1968, Orchestra Hall
December 9, 1968, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
William Steinberg, conductor

October 30, 31, and November 1, 1969, Orchestra Hall
November 3, 1969, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
MOZART Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466
Eliahu Inbal, conductor

July 16, 1970, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16
István Kertész, conductor

May 7 and 8, 1971, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Georg Solti, conductor

July 20, 1971, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
István Kertész, conductor

September 5, 1971, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
MOZART Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466
Georg Solti, conductor

May 20, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 21, 1972, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

March 1, 2, and 3, 1973, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Lorin Maazel, conductor

November 7, 8, and 9, 1974, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 5 in G Major, Op. 55
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

January 18 and 20, 1980, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Ashkenazy has appeared as piano recitalist, chamber musician, and guest conductor, as follows (*program book not on file; repertoire culled from advertisements and newspaper clippings).

October 19, 1958

October 19, 1958, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24
CHOPIN Nocturne in B Major, Op. 9, No. 3
CHOPIN Scherzo No. 4 in E Major, Op. 54
LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1
RACHMANINOV Variations on a Theme by Corelli, Op. 42
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, Op. 83

*November 18, 1962, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata No. 9 in D Major, K. 311
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82
CHOPIN Etudes, Op. 25

*May 16, 1971, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58

March 4, 1973, Orchestra Hall
DOHNÁNYI String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 33
SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 68
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
Chicago Symphony String Quartet
Victor Aitay, violin
Edgar Muenzer, violin
Milton Preves, viola
Frank Miller, cello

*February 17, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
CHOPIN Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49
CHOPIN Impromptu in F-sharp Major, Op. 36
CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52
CHOPIN Scherzo in E Major, Op. 54

Vladimir Ashkenazy (Wayne J. Shilkret photo)

*March 20, 1977, Orchestra Hall
SCRIABIN Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp Minor, Op. 19
SCRIABIN Two Poems, Op. 32
SCRIABIN Sonata No. 7, Op. 64 (White Mass)
SCRIABIN Sonata No. 10, Op. 70
SCRIABIN Four Pieces, Op. 56
RACHMANINOV Études-Tableaux, nos. 2 (Allegro in C major), 6 (Allegro con fuoco in E-flat major), 7 (Moderato in G minor), and 3 (Grave in C minor)
RACHMANINOV Selections from Ten Preludes, Op. 23 and Thirteen Preludes, Op. 32

*January 21, 1979, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 16 in G Major, Op. 31, No. 1
SCHUMANN Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6
CHOPIN Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49
CHOPIN Ballade in A-flat
CHOPIN Nocturne in F-sharp Minor, Op. 48, No. 2
CHOPIN Scherzo in C-sharp Minor

*February 20, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58
CHOPIN Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2

*March 20, 1983, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
SCHUBERT Klavierstücke No. 1 in E-flat Minor and No. 2 in E-flat Major, D. 946
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (Wanderer)

*April 29, 1984, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960
SCHUMANN Papillons, Op. 2
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13

December 9, 1990, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111
BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 119
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24

Vladimir Ashkenazy (Ben Ealovega photo for Decca)

November 15, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
BAX Tintagel
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

November 10, 1997, Orchestra Hall
KODÁLY Dances of Galánta
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

March 31, 2000, Orchestra Hall
JANÁČEK Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Kurt Nikkanen, violin
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100
Czech Philharmonic

March 7, 2003, Orchestra Hall
SHOSTAKOVICH/Barshai Chamber Symphony for Strings in C Minor, Op. 110a
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Lukáš Vondráček, piano
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70
Czech Philharmonic

Happy, happy birthday!

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Erica Morini (Ledger photo, Vienna)

During Women’s History Month, we celebrate and remember the remarkable Austrian violinist Erica Morini, who, over the course of nearly forty-five years, was a frequent and favorite soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in recital in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in WGN‘s television studios.

Born in 1904, Morini was a seasoned performer by 1924, when her father purchased a $10,000 Stradivarius violin—made in 1727 and named for the Russian cellist Karl Davydov—for her. It soon became her instrument of choice and prized possession for the remainder of her career. Shortly before her death in October 1995, the instrument—along with artwork, correspondence, and annotated scores—was stolen from her apartment in New York City. The unsolved crime remains one of the FBI’s “Top Ten Art Crimes.”

Morini and her violin are the subject of a new documentary, Stolen: The Unsolved Theft of a $3,000,000 Violin. Several members of the CSOA family were interviewed for the film, including Robert Chen, concertmaster; Kenneth Olsen, assistant principal cello; Hilary Hahn, violinist and CSO Artist-in-Residence; Rachel Barton Pine, Chicago-based violinist; and Frank Villella, director of the Rosenthal Archives. (If you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of the Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius, please contact nyartcrime@fbi.gov.)

On November 18, 1921, seventeen-year-old Erica Morini made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Vieuxtemps’s First Violin Concerto with second music director Frederick Stock on the podium. “Good violinists, as all concert attendants know, are common enough these days, and most of them are young,” wrote Edward Moore in the Chicago Tribune. “Miss Morini, however, has a few things in her artistic makeup that take her widely out of even their class. It is not once in twenty times that one hears a violinist with the fiery vitality of this young girl. . . . She gave rise to more violinistic fireworks at higher speed and got more of them correct than any one who has been on the stage since the day that Jascha Heifetz took away the breath of the same audience a few years ago.”

One month later, Morini gave her debut recital in Orchestra Hall. In the Chicago Evening Post, Karleton Hackett wrote, “there was no doubt of the remarkable powers as well as the charm of this young artist. The tone was lovely in quality, the technique of extraordinary accuracy, and everything was done with gratifying ease. . . . Miss Morini has something to say with her violin and the power to say it.”

Morini’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, re-released on LP in 1957, featured album cover art by Andy Warhol. (RCA Victor)

Morini later earned the distinction of being not only the first violinist but also the first woman to commercially record as a soloist with the Orchestra. On December 12, 1945, she recorded Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto under the baton of third music director Désiré Defauw in Orchestra Hall. The initial RCA Victor release was as a 78 RPM record, and the subsequent 1957 LP re-release featured album cover art by Andy Warhol. For WGN, Morini was soloist with the Orchestra for a television broadcast recorded on December 10, 1961, performing Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto with George Szell conducting. The video was later released by Video Artists International.

A complete list of Morini’s performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below.

November 18 and 19, 1921, Orchestra Hall
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 1 in E Major, Op. 10
Frederick Stock, conductor

December 8 and 9, 1922, Orchestra Hall
SPOHR Violin Concerto No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 55
SARASATE Fantasy on Carmen for Violin and Orchestra
Frederick Stock, conductor

November 14 and 15, 1930, Orchestra Hall
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82
Frederick Stock, conductor

November 18 and 19, 1921

December 14, 1937, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Frederick Stock, conductor

December 16 and 17, 1937, Orchestra Hall
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82
Hans Lange, conductor

January 27, 1942, Orchestra Hall
SPOHR Violin Concerto No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 55
Frederick Stock, conductor

July 24, 1945, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Massimo Freccia, conductor

July 28, 1945, Ravinia Festival
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82
Massimo Freccia, conductor

December 3, 1945, Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee
December 6 and 7, 1945, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Hans Lange, conductor

December 11, 1945, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Désiré Defauw, conductor

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was initially released as a 78 RPM disc in 1946 by RCA Victor

December 10, 1946, Orchestra Hall
December 16, 1946, Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Désiré Defauw, conductor

December 12 and 13, 1946, Orchestra Hall
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Désiré Defauw, conductor

November 22, 1949, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

November 24 and 25, 1949, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (Turkish)
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

July 3, 1952, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
George Szell, conductor

January 14, 15, and 16, 1965

July 5, 1952, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Leonard Rose, cello
George Szell, conductor

December 7 and 8, 1961, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
George Szell, conductor

December 10, 1961, WGN Studios
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (Turkish)
George Szell, conductor

January 14, 15, and 16, 1965, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (Turkish)
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

December 18, 1921

Erica Morini also gave three recitals in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

December 18, 1921
Emanuel Balaban, piano

January 14, 1923
Harry Kaufman, piano

April 3, 1949
Leon Pommers, piano

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Richard Oldberg in the early 1960s

We have just learned of the passing of Richard Oldberg, a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section, who died in Estes Park, Colorado on December 27, 2021. He was eighty-three.

Born on June 21, 1938, in Evanston, Illinois, Oldberg began his horn studies in the public school system and received instruction from Charles Zweigler and later Max Pottag (CSO horn, 1907–1946). He attended the summer music programs at Interlochen Arts Camp, and he later attended Harvard and Northwestern universities, where he studied with two CSO principal horns, Philip Farkas and Christopher Leuba. A lip injury temporarily forced him to give up the horn, and he briefly turned to premedical studies. However, in January 1962, with encouragement from Leuba, Oldberg was invited to perform as an extra horn with the CSO. He continued to work as a regular substitute and was invited by new music director Jean Martinon to join the Orchestra as assistant principal horn beginning with the 1963–64 season. Following the departure of Wayne Barrington the following season, Oldberg moved to third horn, remaining in that position for the next twenty-nine years until his retirement in 1993.

Oldberg was a frequent soloist with the Orchestra and appeared in Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto with Irwin Hoffman conducting, as well as Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns on numerous occasions under Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Michael Morgan, and Sir Georg Solti. In March 1977, Oldberg—along with his colleagues Dale Clevenger, Norman Schweikert, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in a recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück under Barenboim’s baton for Deutsche Grammophon.

His grandfather, Arne Oldberg, was a prominent composer, pianist, and educator, serving on the faculty at Northwestern University from 1897 until 1941. Between 1909 and 1954, the CSO gave the world premieres of sixteen of his works, including his Third, Fourth, and Fifth symphonies and a violin concerto. One of Arne’s sons (and Richard’s uncle), Eric Oldberg, was a prominent neurosurgeon in Chicago, and he served as president of the Orchestral Association from 1952 until 1963 and later as a life trustee. Eric presided over the appointment of both Fritz Reiner as sixth music director in 1953 and Margaret Hillis as founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1957.

A dedicated educator, Richard Oldberg served on the faculty at Northwestern University for many years. After leaving Chicago, he was principal horn and guest conductor with the Boulder Philharmonic in Colorado, regularly leading their annual performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet. In his retirement, he enjoyed his longtime hobbies of book collecting (mostly Sherlock Holmes and mountaineering), model railroads, and hand-copying the scores of Richard Wagner’s operas. He and his wife Mary were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

In a July 1989 interview for the CSO’s Oral History Project, Oldberg reflected on his time in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “I’ve had a grand time. I’m the luckiest person on the face of the earth. Like Lou Gehrig said, I’m doing what I want to do. This isn’t work, this is fun, and I’m having a wonderful time doing it, playing the music that we play, and so, I’m a very happy fellow as a result.”

Richard Oldberg’s wife Mary preceded him in death in 2019. He is survived by his son David from a previous marriage.

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Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to American pianist André Watts!

André Watts (Steve J. Sherman photo)

Watts was born in Nuremberg, Germany, to a Hungarian mother and an African American U.S. Army soldier. His mother was his first piano teacher, and by the age of nine, he had won a competition to perform on a children’s concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Watts became a part of the American musical fabric when, at the age of sixteen, he appeared on a nationally televised Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic on January 15, 1963, performing Liszt’s First Piano Concerto under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. Two weeks later, an ailing Glenn Gould canceled with the Philharmonic, and Bernstein invited Watts to perform the same Liszt concerto on subscription concerts on short notice. Columbia Masterworks soon recorded Watts’s interpretation, and the release The Exciting Debut of André Watts won the 1963 Grammy Award for Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist.

Watts became a student of Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory, combining his studies with a packed concert schedule that quickly included as many as 150 concerts a year. He soon made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in June 1965, one day before his nineteenth birthday. Since then, Watts has been a frequent guest, appearing with the Orchestra on many occasions, as follows:

June 19, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

May 7, 8, and 9, 1970, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

Watt’s debut with the CSO at the Ravinia Festival on June 19, 1965

July 14, 1970, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
István Kertész, conductor

May 20, 21, and 22, 1971, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Henry Mazer, conductor

December 2 and 3, 1971, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

July 18, 1972, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 3, 1974, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

August 3, 1975, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 15, 1976, Ravinia Festival
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
James Levine, conductor

July 7, 1977, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
LISZT Totentanz
James Levine, conductor

Watt’s Ravinia Festival debut biography (June 19, 1965)

May 31 and June 1, 1979, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 7, 1979, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
James Levine, conductor

July 11, 1980, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

June 28, 1981, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

August 7, 1982, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Maxim Shostakovich, conductor

July 13, 1984, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
James Levine, conductor

July 12, 1985, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
James Levine, conductor

January 23, 24, and 26, 1986, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
LISZT Totentanz
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 11, 1986, Ravinia Festival
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

August 15, 1987, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
George Cleve, conductor

Watt’s debut with the CSO in Orchestra Hall on May 7, 8, and 9, 1970

July 2, 1989, Ravinia Festival
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

July 20, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor

July 17, 1992, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
James Conlon, conductor

February 25, 26, 27, and 28, 1993, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25
David Loebel, conductor

July 23, 1993, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
John Nelson, conductor

November 1, 1993, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Gerhardt Zimmermann, conductor

August 6, 1994, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

June 30, 1995, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

January 24 and 25, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
LISZT Totentanz
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 26, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
LISZT Totentanz
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Watt’s CSO subscription concert debut biography (May 7, 8, and 9, 1970)

January 27, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 2, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
LUTOSŁAWSKI Variations on a Theme by Paganini
Hermann Michael, conductor

August 1, 1997, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

May 14, 15, 16, and 19, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

August 14, 1998, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 16, 1999, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Claus Peter Flor, conductor

November 2, 1999, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
William Eddins, conductor

January 11, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

André Watts in 1971 (James J. Kriegsmann photo)

August 4, 2000, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Roberto Abbado, conductor

April 19, 20, and 21, 2001, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 1, 2001, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT/Stein Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940
LISZT Totentanz
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 29, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 5, 2007, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
James Conlon, conductor

July 8, 2011, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Gail Niwa makes her subscription concert debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto on February 9, 1995 (Jim Steere photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of pianist Gail Niwa, who passed away on February 9, 2021, at home in New York City, following a long illness. She was sixty-one.

Born in Chicago in 1959, Gail was the daughter of two professional musicians. Her mother (and first teacher) Eloise was an accomplished pianist and pedagogue, and her father Raymond was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s violin section from 1951 until 1997. David Niwa, Gail’s brother, also is a skilled violinist with degrees from the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, and he currently serves as assistant concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Together, the Niwa family claims a singular distinction: all four have been soloists with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

At the age of eight, Gail Niwa was a second-place winner (tying with cellist Gary Hoffman) in the CSO’s youth auditions on December 11, 1967, and she subsequently made her debut with the Orchestra on youth concerts on February 19 and April 8, 1968, performing the third movement of Haydn’s Piano Concerto no. 11 in D major with Irwin Hoffman conducting. She later appeared with the Orchestra on special Music is the Message concerts for high school students, performing Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto on March 7, 1972, and Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor (along with David Lackland) on April 8, 1975, both under the baton of Henry Mazer. A graduate of William Howard Taft High School, Niwa was a two-time Chicago City Parks tennis champion.

Gail Niwa and Gary Hoffman receive their youth soloist awards from Louis Sudler, president of the Orchestral Association, and Irwin Hoffman, associate conductor on December 11, 1967

On scholarship to the Juilliard School, Niwa earned bachelor and master’s degrees as a student of Adele Marcus. She was awarded first prize at the 1987 Washington International Competition, which led to her recital debut at the Kennedy Center. In 1991, She became the first woman to win the top prize at the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, receiving not only the gold medal but also the audience and chamber music prizes. This led to her debut at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in October of that year. Recognized as an excellent chamber musician, she received the award for best accompanist at the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition for violinists in Moscow.

She gave recitals in Athens, Miami, Montreal, Seoul, Toronto, and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and she also performed as soloist with the Augusta, Memphis, San Luis Obispo, Utah, Reno, and Grant Park symphony orchestras, and performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the California Philharmonic. Niwa also appeared with the Highland Park Strings, Kammergild Chamber Players in Saint Louis, the Ocean State Chamber Players, and the Banff Festival Chamber Orchestra, and she was a member of the Partita and Chelsea chamber ensembles in New York. With violinist David Kim, she made recordings for the Musical Heritage Society and Teldec labels, and with CSO bassoon Bruce Grainger on the Centaur label.

On April 4, 1993, Niwa made her Orchestra Hall recital debut on the Allied Arts series, performing the following program:

BACH/Busoni Chaconne from Unaccompanied Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58
SZYMANOWSKI Shéhérazade and Sérénade de Don Juan from Masques, Op. 34
TCHAIKOVSKY Dumka, Op. 59
LYAPUNOV Lezghinka, Transcendental Etude, Op. 11, No. 10

“It was easy to hear why the young Chicago pianist already has racked up so many competition victories,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “She plays with the kind of confident fluency that makes competition juries take notice. . . . Taste, elegance, and musical intelligence were the hallmarks of Niwa’s Chopin sonata [and] the afternoon’s finest playing came in two of Szymanowski’s Masques [that] emerged here in all their exotic coloration, with plenty of intensity and atmosphere.”

On April 25, 1994, Niwa, along with Philip Sabransky—a former student of Eloise Niwa and the son of CSO violin Jerry and founding Chorus member Martha Sabransky—joined the Orchestra at Medinah Temple for recording sessions for Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Together they recorded the finale from Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals with James Levine conducting.

Niwa was back in Orchestra Hall for her subscription concert debut on February 9, 11, and 14, 1995, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as soloist in Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Sir Georg Solti on the podium. “She reveled in Schumann’s lyricism, especially in the concerto’s first movement, lingering over the expressive opening theme, stretching its rhythmic outlines to the limit,” commented Wynne Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “The CSO, in turn, provided unusually sumptuous accompaniment [and] the second movement was a relaxed, expansive conversation between soloist and sections of the Orchestra.”

At the University of Southern California, she served as assistant professor of piano and was founder and artistic director of Chamber Music at Great Gorge in northwest New Jersey.

Niwa is survived by her partner Glenn Powell, son Matthew, and brother David (Mariko). There are no immediate plans for services. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in her memory.

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to legendary Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and teacher Itzhak Perlman!

Itzhak Perlman

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago, Perlman has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as both violin soloist and conductor on numerous occasions.

Perlman made his Chicago debut as soloist with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra on July 24 and 25, 1965, in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Irwin Hoffman, and he first appeared locally in recital later that year on November 27 at KAM Isaiah Israel, performing Bloch, Brahms, Chausson, Mozart, Paganini, Sarasate, and Vivaldi with David Garvey at the piano.

He first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 4, 1966 (a few weeks shy of his twenty-first birthday), in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Thomas Schippers conducting. In Orchestra Hall, he first appeared under the auspices of Allied Arts with members of the CSO on an all-Stravinsky concert, in the Violin Concerto in D under the baton of Robert Craft.

As a conductor, Perlman first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 25, 1999, in Bach’s Second Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s First Romance for Violin (also performing as soloist), along with Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. He has led the Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on one occasion, on November 17, 2008, in Bach’s First Violin Concerto (also performing as soloist), Mozart’s Symphony no. 35, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently, he conducted the Orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program at the Ravinia Festival on August 18, 2019, leading the Fourth Symphony, Variations on a Rococo Theme with Kian Soltani, and the 1812 Overture.

A complete list of Perlman’s appearances is below:

August 4, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Thomas Schippers, conductor

May 11 and 12, 1967, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Jean Martinon, conductor

Itzhak Perlman (photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Itzhak Perlman (Lisa Marie Mazzucco photo)

July 6, 1967, Ravinia Festival
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Sir Malcolm Sargent, conductor

July 30, 1968, Ravinia Festival
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Moshe Atzmon, conductor

July 24, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
István Kertész, conductor

April 16, 17, and 18, 1970, Orchestra Hall
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor

July 30, 1970, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 27, 1971, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
István Kertész, conductor

July 25, 1972, Ravinia Festial
LALO Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 13, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BERG Violin Concerto
SAINT-SAËNS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
James Levine, conductor

May 8, 9, and 10, 1975, Orchestra Hall
BACH Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor, BWV 1060
Ray Still, oboe
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

November 24, 26, and 28, 1976, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

Perlman Brahms

November 29, 1976, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on November 30 and December 1, 1976. For Angel, Christopher Bishop was the producer and and Christopher Parker was the balance engineer. The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 28, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Lynn Harrell, cello
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
James Levine, conductor

November 16, 17, and 18, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Edo de Waart, conductor

March 23, and 24, 1981, Orchestra Hall (recording sessions only)
ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the producer, Werner Mayer was the recording supervisor, Klaus Scheibe was the recording engineer, and Christopher Adler and Joachim Niss were editors. The recording won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra).

October 29, 30, and 31, 1981, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

March 1, 2, and 3, 1984, Orchestra Hall
ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 7, 1986, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
SARASATE Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25
David Zinman, conductor

August 9, 1986, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
David Zinman, conductor

January 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1987, Orchestra Hall
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

August 8, 1987, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Edo de Waart, conductor

December 6, 1988, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Rondo in C Major, K. 373
MOZART Rondeau: Allegro from Duet No. 1 for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
MOZART Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major, K. 364
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor and viola

July 15, 1989, Ravinia Festival
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
James Conlon, conductor

October 3, 5, and 6, and 7, 1989, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 23, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
James Levine, conductor

June 30, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BACH Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
James Levine, conductor

June 20, 1992, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
James Levine, conductor

May 13, 14, 15, and 18, 1993, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live by Erato. Victor Muenzer was the recording supervisor; Lawrence Rock and Konrad Strauss were sound engineers, assisted by Christopher Willis.

June 26, 1993, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Mariss Jansons, conductor

July 30, 1994, Ravinia Festival
KHACHATURIAN Violin Concerto in D Minor
Hugh Wolff, conductor

September 22, 23, and 24, 1994, Orchestra Hall
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto was recorded live by Teldec. Nikolaus Deckenbrock was the executive producer, Martin Fouqué was the recording producer and editor, Michael Brammann was the recording engineer, and Wolfram Nehls and Philipp Nedel were the assistant engineers.

November 14, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 15, 1995, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

July 18, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

September 26, 27, and 28, 1996, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Cello, Op. 102 (Double)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live by Teldec. Renate Kupfer was the executive producer, Martin Sauer was the recording producer, Michael Brammann was the recording engineer, Philipp Nedel and John Newton were assistant engineers, and Stefan Witzel was the digital editor.

November 11, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MASSENET Meditation from Thaïs
KREISLER Schön Rosmarin
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

June 22, 1997, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

January 22, 23, and 24, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
William Eddins, conductor

July 19, 1998, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 24, 1999, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
KREISLER Liebesleid
KREISLER Liebesfreud
KREISLER Tambourin chinois
Eiji Oue, conductor

July 25, 1999, Ravinia Festival
BACH Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042
BEETHOVEN Romance No. 1 in G major, Op. 40
SCHUBERT Overture to Rosamunde, D. 797
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

June 1, 2, and 3, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14
Charles Dutoit, conductor

July 22, 2000, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Bernhard Klee, conductor

recording session

Perlman and Daniel Barenboim rehearsing with the CSO in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

July 23, 2000, Ravinia Festival
BACH Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor, BWV 1060
Alex Klein, oboe
MOZART Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201
VIVALDI Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 2 (Summer)
BIZET Symphony in C Major
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

November 8, 2000, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Markus Stenz, conductor

December 6, 7, and 8, 2001, Orchestra Hall
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Mathieu Dufour, flute
Daniel Barenboim, piano
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 21, 2002, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
William Eddins, conductor

June 22, 2002, Ravinia Festival
GLINKA Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla
BACH Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

June 23, 2002, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
Kurt Nikkanen, violin
Zuill Bailey, cello
Navah Perlman, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

June 28, 2003, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Robert Spano, conductor

June 29, 2003, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Giora Schmidt, violin
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

June 27, 2004, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Peter Oundjian, conductor

July 9, 2005, Ravinia Festival
DVOŘÁK Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
KREISLER Liebesfreud
SAINT-SÄENS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Marin Alsop, conductor

July 10, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Lang Lang, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

October 1, 2005, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216 (Strassburg)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 12, 2006, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (Turkish)
Yoel Levi, conductor

July 13, 2006, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Emanuel Ax, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

Perlman and Daniel Barenboim rehearsing with the CSO in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

November 17, 2008, Orchestra Hall
BACH Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041
MOZART Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Itzhak Perlman, conductor and violin

March 7, 2011, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
KREISLER/McAlister Liebesfreud
James DePreist, conductor

August 4, 2011, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
James Conlon, conductor

August 6, 2011, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Gabriela Martinez, piano
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

August 7, 2013, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor

August 8, 2013, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
HAYDN Cello Concerto No.2 in D Major
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

August 20, 2016, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Bramwell Tovey, conductor

August 21, 2016, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Lynn Harrell, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

July 29, 2017, Ravinia Festival
HUPFELD/Williams As Time Goes By from Casablanca
MORRICONE/Williams Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso
WILLIAMS Theme from Far and Away
BARRY/Williams Main Title Theme from Out of Africa
KORNGOLD/Williams Marian and Robin Love Theme from The Adventures of Robin Hood
WILLIAMS Theme from Sabrina
WILLIAMS Theme from Schindler’s List
GARDEL/Williams Tango from Scent of a Woman
James Conlon, conductor

August 17, 2019, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Krzysztof Urbański, conductor

August 18, 2019, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Kian Soltani, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Itzhak Perlman, conductor

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Perlman also has appeared in Orchestra Hall on numerous times in recital, as follows:

Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1966

December 28, 1966, and January 1, 1967, Orchestra Hall
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Robert Craft, conductor

April 2, 1967, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op 30, No. 3
FRANCK Sonata in A Major
STRAVINSKY Suite italienne
BLOCH Nigun from Baal shem
WIENIAWSKI Scherzo tarantelle, Op. 16
Samuel Sanders, piano

January 12, 1969, Orchestra Hall
VIVALDI Sonata in A Major, RV 31
BACH Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
BRAHMS Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 108
STRAVINSKY Duo concertant
PAGANINI Three Caprices
SARASATE/Zimbalist Carmen Fantasy
Samuel Sanders, piano

April 27, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 301
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 302
MOZART Sonata in C Major, K. 303
MOZART Sonata in E Minor, K. 304
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 305
MOZART Sonata in D Major, K. 306
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 6, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 376
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 378
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 377
MOZART Sonata in C Major, K. 296
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 7, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 379
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 481
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 380
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 454
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 16, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Twelve Variations in G Major on the French Song La bergère Cèlimène, K. 359
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 547
MOZART Six Variations in G Minor on the French Song Hélas! j’ai perdu mon amant, K. 360
MOZART Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, K. 526
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 10, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 12, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 23
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24 (Spring)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 16, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 17, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 8 in G Major, Op. 30, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47
Daniel Barenboim, piano

September 26, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BACH Sonata in G Major, BWV 1019
ELGAR Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82
STRAUSS Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18
Daniel Barenboim, piano

February 2, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Minor, D. 408
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 574 (Grand Duo)
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 934
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Perlman, Samuel Magad, Daniel Barenboim, John Sharp, and Pinchas Zukerman performing Brahms’s F minor quintet on October 9, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

October 9, 1997, Orchestra Hall
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
Samuel Magad, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
John Sharp, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Donald Peck, flute
Alex Klein, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Gregory Smith, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Dale Clevenger, horn
Norman Schweikert, horn
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Daniel Barenboim conductor
MOZART Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
HALVORSEN Passacaglia on a Theme of Handel for Violin and Viola
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
BRAHMS Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Samuel Magad, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
John Sharp, cello
Daniel Barenboim, piano

December 1, 1997, Medinah Temple
Brave Old World
The Klezmatics
The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra
The Klezmer Conservatory Band

October 17, 1999, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 377
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 526
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

November 19, 2000, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34
Robert Chen, violin
Pinchas Zukerman, viola
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, piano

December 9, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata in G Major, K. 379
BRAHMS Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2
Daniel Barenboim, piano

May 3, 2006, Orchestra Hall
BACH/Goldberg Sonata for Two Violins and Keyboard in C Major, BWV 1037
MOZART Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major, K. 423
LECLAIR Sonata for Two Violins in F Major, Op. 3, No. 4
MOSZKOWSKI Suite for Two Violins and Piano in G Minor, Op. 71
Pinchas Zukerman, violin and viola
Rohan De Silva, piano

April 19, 2009, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, K. 493
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Molly Carr, viola
Yves Dharamraj, cello
Kwan Yi, piano
MENDELSSOHN Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Erno Kallai, violin
Francesca Anderegg, violin
Wanzhen Li, violin
Kyle Armbrust, viola
Molly Carr, viola
Jia Kim, cello
Yves Dharamraj, cello

May 1, 2019, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Sonata in D Major, K. 306
BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
Evgeny Kissin, piano

Happy, happy birthday!

On July 21, 2020, we commemorate the centennial of legendary Russian-born American violinist Isaac Stern.

Stern first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 11 and 12, 1940, in Orchestra Hall. Second music director Frederick Stock conducted an all-Sibelius program, and nineteen-year-old Stern was soloist in the Violin Concerto.

According to the Chicago Daily News, “Dr. Frederick Stock had been invited to conduct the Sibelius concert with the Helsingfors Orchestra [arranged when Stock visited Sibelius in Finland the previous summer] as a special feature of the Olympic Games.* But Finland has had to abandon peacetime pursuits and now Isaac [Stern] can thank the Russian regime for both his American citizenship and the chance to play the Sibelius D minor concerto with one of the world’s great orchestras.”

“True to the topsy-turvy condition of the world we live in, while the Finns are playing havoc with the Russians, at home a Russian-born violinist, young Isaac Stern, was the sensation of Mr. Stock’s memorable Sibelius concert at Orchestra Hall last night,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Journal of Commerce. “[Stern] has a commanding and comprehensive technique, a bold and beautiful tone never blatant and he has an urgent intensity of projection that seems to start in his firmly planted heels and flow like fire into the hands that make his music. . . . Stock’s accompaniment was brilliant in the perceptive richness that makes so many soloists prefer him to any other conductor.”

January 11 and 12, 1940

November 27 and 28, 1941, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Hans Lange, conductor

November 9, 1943, Orchestra Hall
PAGANINI Allegro maestoso from Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Hans Lange, conductor

November 11 and 12, 1943, Orchestra Hall
SZYMANOWSKI Concerto in One Movement, Op. 61
RAVEL Tzigane
Hans Lange, conductor

July 15, 1948, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Fritz Busch, conductor

July 18, 1948, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Fritz Busch, conductor

December 14, 1948, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Tauno Hannikainen, conductor

March 31 and April 1, 1955, Orchestra Hall

December 16 and 17, 1948, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Eugene Ormandy, conductor

December 12, 1950, Orchestra Hall
LALO Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

December 14 and 15, 1950, Orchestra Hall
December 18, 1950, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

July 26, 1952, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Otto Klemperer, conductor

July 31, 1952, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Otto Klemperer, conductor

March 19 and 20, 1953, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

March 24, 1953, Orchestra Hall
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 31
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

March 31 and April 1, 1955, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Fritz Reiner, conductor

April 12, 1955, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Fritz Reiner, conductor

August 5, 1955, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Enrique Jordá, conductor

July 2, 1959, Ravinia Festival

August 6, 1955, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Leonard Rose, cello
Enrique Jordá, conductor

November 22 and 23, 1956, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Fritz Reiner, conductor

November 27, 1956, Orchestra Hall
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Fritz Reiner, conductor

July 13, 1957, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Pierre Monteux, conductor

July 14, 1957, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Pierre Monteux, conductor

October 28, 1958, Orchestra Hall
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Fritz Reiner, conductor

October 30 and 31, 1958, Orchestra Hall
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Fritz Reiner, conductor

June 30, 1959, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Pierre Monteux, conductor

July 2, 1959, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Pierre Monteux, conductor

Isaac Stern (William T. Haroutounian photo)

March 31 and April 1, 1960, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Romance for Violin in F Major, Op. 50
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Fritz Reiner, conductor

April 13 and 14, 1961, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
Fritz Reiner, conductor

August 1, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Izler Solomon, conductor

August 3, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 1
VIOTTI Violin Concerto No. 22 in A Minor
Izler Solomon, conductor

March 1, 2 and 3, 1962, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major, K. 207
BARTÓK Rhapsody No. 1
Jean Martinon, conductor

January 24, 25 and 26, 1963, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Josef Krips, conductor

June 29, 1965, Ravinia Festival
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

Claudio Abbado, Martha Gilmer, Yo-Yo Ma, and Isaac Stern onstage at Orchestra Hall during recording sessions for Brahms’s Double Concerto in November 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 1, 1965, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 3, 1965, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
Leonard Rose, cello
Seiji Ozawa, piano and conductor

March 31, April 1, and 2, 1966, Orchestra Hall
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

January 19, 20 and 21, 1967, Orchestra Hall
HINDEMITH Violin Concerto
Jean Martinon, conductor

February 13 and 14, 1969, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Rondo in C Major, K. 373
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

October 2 and 3, 1969, Orchestra Hall
October 6, 1969, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

April 15, 16, and 17, 1971, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Georg Solti, conductor

November 22, 24, and 25, 1972, Orchestra Hall
December 9, 1972, Carnegie Hall
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

April 10, 11, and 12, 1975, Orchestra Hall
ROCHBERG Violin Concerto and Orchestra
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 31, 1976, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Andrew Davis, conductor

March 2, 3, and 4, 1978, Orchestra Hall
March 6, 1978, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

March 28, 29, and 30, 1985, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

November 5 and 7, 1986, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major, K. 364 (performed by violin and cello)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Isaac Stern and music director designate Daniel Barenboim following the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990 (Jim Steere photo)

November 6 and 8, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 7 and 8, 1986. For CBS Masterworks, Bud Graham was the control engineer, Tom MacCluskey was the editing engineer, and Tim Geelan was the post-production engineer.

October 6, 1990, Orchestra Hall (Centennial Gala)
MOZART Rondo in C Major, K. 373
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

May 23, 24, 25, and 28, 1991, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 16, 1992, Orchestra Hall
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

October 1, 2, and 3, 1992, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 1
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Stern also appeared in recital and with ensembles on several occasions in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

Program book advertisement for the November 19, 1969, Allied Arts concert in Orchestra Hall

November 14, 1948
Alexander Zakin, piano

October 8, 1950
Alexander Zakin, piano

March 2, 1958
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
National Symphony Orchestra
Howard Mitchell, conductor

June 1, 1963
Alexander Zakin, piano

April 5, 1964
Alexander Zakin, piano

November 27, 1966
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

May 5, 1968
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

April 27, 1969
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

November 18, 1969
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Alexander Zakin, piano

May 17, 1970
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

February 14, 1971
Alexander Zakin, piano

Program book advertisement for the November 19, 1969, Allied Arts concert in Orchestra Hall

November 4, 1979
David Golub, piano

March 26, 1990
DUTILLEUX L’arbre de songes
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
David Zinman, conductor

December 9, 1990
Jaime Laredo, viola
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Emanuel Ax, piano

April 18, 1993
Cho-Liang Lin, violin
Jaime Laredo, viola
Michael Tree, viola
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Sharon Robinson, cello

December 8, 1996
Philip Setzer, violin
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Lynn Harrell, cello
Yefim Bronfman, piano

February 25, 1998
Jaime Laredo, viola
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Emanuel Ax, piano

*On July 16, 1938, a year after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, it was announced that the 1940 Summer Olympics would not be held in Tokyo, as originally scheduled. The International Olympic Committee then awarded the games to Helsinki, the runner-up city in the original bidding process. However, following the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, the Olympic Games were indefinitely suspended and did not resume until 1948.

Raymond Niwa in 1950 (Central Studio)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of Raymond Niwa—a member of the violin section from 1951 until 1997—who passed away on May 27, 2020, following a brief illness. He was ninety-seven.

Born on August 3, 1922, in Chicago, Niwa began violin lessons at the age of nine, and he attended Lane Technical College Preparatory High School. In 1940, Niwa was the winner of the Polish Arts Club’s first recital contest, and the following year he placed first in the Society of American Musicians Young Artist’s Competition. Following both contests, he was presented in recital in Kimball Hall.

Attending DePaul University as a student of Morris Gomberg, Niwa received a bachelor of music degree in 1943, after which he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. After three years of military service, he returned to DePaul for a master’s degree, completed in 1948.

While a student, Niwa was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago during the 1945–46 season. In 1946, he was in the pit for the final season of the Chicago Opera Company, and that same year, he began a five-year tenure with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. During 1950–51, he performed for one season as a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The Niwa Trio—Raymond Niwa, Eloise Niwa, and Margaret Evans—in 1970 (Terry’s photo)

In 1951, fifth music director Rafael Kubelík invited Niwa to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section. During his tenure, he performed as a featured soloist on two occasions: in Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto on January 3, 1953, with George Schick conducting, and again on June 10, 1970, in Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto under the baton of Irwin Hoffman. Niwa also was an active member on the Orchestra’s members’ committee as well as the contract negotiating team for many years.

Niwa and his wife Eloise, a pianist, and Margaret Evans, a longtime member of the Orchestra’s cello section, made up the Niwa Trio and were featured on the CSO’s Chamber Music Series for over twenty years. They also actively participated in the Orchestra’s ensemble programs, frequently performing in Chicago-area schools and throughout the community.

From 1946 until 1948, Niwa was on faculty at DePaul University, and in 1948, he began a long tenure at Roosevelt University, later heading the faculty string quartet for eight years.

Raymond Niwa in the early 1970s (Terry’s photo)

The Niwa’s children also are accomplished musicians. Their son David is a violinist and holds degrees from the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, and their daughter Gail is a pianist, also with degrees from Juilliard. The Niwa family claims a singular distinction: all four have been soloists with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

In their retirement, Raymond and Eloise Niwa were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association. He also served for many years on the CSOAA’s board, as a director and treasurer.

Raymond Niwa’s beloved wife Eloise preceded him in death in 2013. He is survived by his daughter Gail, son David (Mariko), and grandson Matthew. Details for a memorial service are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in both Raymond and Eloise’s memory.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the classical music community in mourning Montserrat Caballé, the legendary Spanish soprano, who died on Saturday, October 6. She was 85.

Caballé appeared with the Chicago Symphony at Orchestra Hall on one occasion, on April 28 and 29, 1966, performing Strauss’s Four Last Songs and Weber’s scene and aria, “Ozean! Du Ungeheuer,” from Oberon under the baton of associate conductor Irwin Hoffman.

In the Chicago American, Roger Dettmer noted, “One of the largest Thursday audiences in recent Orchestra Hall history assembled for the first local appearance last evening of Montserrat Caballé, the Spanish soprano who has taken Milan, Vienna, Munich, Mexico City, Dallas, and Manhattan by storm. When she had finished singing music of Richard Strauss and Weber, accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Irwin Hoffman’s deferential direction, there was a roar of acclaim. . . . She is always a delicate and intelligent singer, in strict command of her resources. As important and admirable, she is a painstaking, persuasive musician, who has the measure of Strauss’s twilight songs—their intimacy, ecstasy, and inner peace—as well as the thrust for ‘Ozean!'”

“The consummate artistry of Montserrat Caballé gave Orchestra Hall one of the great moments in its history last night,” wrote Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune. “The Spanish soprano who has been attracitng maximum attention elsewhere does not have the big voice with a cutting edge associated with the luminaries of the German opera. . . . With the intuition which all of the great ones seem to have, she gave you a sample of the power and volume once or twice before setting in to spin the most gleaming of pianissimos heard since the glittering years of top flight [Elisabeth] Schwarzkopf . . . a pliant and carefully balanced phrase whose give and take adjusted to the words as well as the tonal requirements of the vocal line.”

Countless tributes have been posted online, including the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, BBC News, and Opera News, among several others.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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