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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!

Isaac Stern in 1945 (Hulton Archive, Getty Images photo)

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.”

Over the course of nearly sixty years, Stern was one of the most frequent guests with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—in Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, and in Carnegie Hall, performing under six music directors (Stock, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim) and numerous guest conductors—and in recital at Orchestra Hall.

A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below:

January 11 and 12, 1940, Orchestra Hall
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Frederick Stock, 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.

Ruggiero Ricci in Prague in 1958 (CTK/Alamy photo)

On July 24, 2018, we celebrate the centennial of the birth of the remarkable American violinist Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012), a frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

A student of Louis Persinger, Ricci played his first solo recital at Carnegie Hall at the age of eleven and was a noted interpreter of Paganini. A celebrated teacher himself, Ricci also taught at the universities of Michigan and Indiana, the Juilliard School, and Salzburg Mozarteum.

Between 1951 and 1972, Ricci appeared with the Orchestra on numerous occasions in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Milwaukee, and a complete list of his appearances is below (all concerts in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

November 8 and 9, 1951
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

August 5, 1954, Ravinia Festival
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Georg Solti, conductor

August 7, 1954, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Vioin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Paul Tortelier, cello
Georg Solti, conductor

July 5, 1962, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, Op. 47
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Walter Hendl, conductor

Ruggiero Ricci in 1965 (Getty Images)

December 19 and 20, 1963
GINASTERA Violin Concerto, Op. 30
Walter Hendl, conductor

December 21, 1963
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Walter Hendl, conductor

June 30, 1964, Ravinia Festival
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 2, 1964, Ravinia Festival
LALO Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21
André Previn, conductor

February 27, 1971
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

January 6 and 7, 1972
January 10, 1972 (Pabst Theater, Milwaukee)
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
John Pritchard, conductor

On July 18, 2018, Riccardo Muti led the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini in a concert at the Ravenna Festival, in tribute to Ricci’s centennial. The program included Rossini’s Overture to Il viaggio a Reims, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, and Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 4 in D minor, featuring Wilfried Hedenborg—a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic for almost three decades and a student of Ricci’s at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in 1989—as soloist.

 

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has performed Aaron Copland‘s Lincoln Portrait on several occasions and with a number of notable narrators. A complete list is below.

Carl Sandburg

Poet, writer, and editor Carl Sandburg was narrator for the Orchestra’s first performances of Lincoln Portrait on March 15 and 16, 1945, in Orchestra Hall; third music director Désiré Defauw conducted. At the time, Sandburg was the country’s leading authority on Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth U.S. president. He had written the two-volume Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years in 1926, and in 1940, he completed the four-volume Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize.

Claude Rains

The composer himself conducted the first performance at the Ravinia Festival on July 21, 1956. Popular stage and screen character actor Claude Rains was narrator for the occasion. Winner of a Tony Award and nominated four times for an Academy Award (in the best supporting actor category), he appeared in such classic films as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Notorious, and Lawrence of Arabia.

Illinois Governor Otto J. Kerner rubs the nose of Gutzon Borglum‘s Lincoln bust in 1964 (World Telegraph & Sun photo by Roger Higgins)

Copland was again on the podium at the Ravinia Festival on July 6, 1963, when Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. was narrator. Kerner was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and served as a judge in the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County before his election as the thirty-third governor of Illinois in 1960, winning re-election in 1964. He resigned as governor in 1968 when President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Kerner was later convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy, and perjury and sentenced to three years in federal prison; he was released early following his being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The next three performances, all in Orchestra Hall, were narrated by voices quite familiar to Chicagoans. On March 28, 1970, Mel Zellman, an announcer for WFMT for forty years, shared the stage with conductor Irwin HoffmanJim Tilmon, a longtime television reporter for WTTW and NBC, narrated the work on February 25, 1976, with associate conductor Henry Mazer on the podium. On January 29, 1979, Bill Kurtis, then a news anchor with WBBM-TV, was narrator, again under Mazer’s direction.

For a special July 4 celebration in 1982 at the Ravinia Festival, Aaron Copland himself was narrator. Erich Kunzel conducted.

Jane Byrne (Associated Press photo by Fred Jewell)

Jane Byrne was the first woman to serve as Chicago’s mayor—the city’s fortieth—from 1979 until 1983. On October 1, 1982, in Orchestra Hall, she was narrator in Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with Reynald Giovaninetti on the podium. According to her obituary in the Chicago Tribune, “Over her single term in office, Byrne launched Taste of Chicago and crowd-pleasing celebrations like Blues Fest, inspired the redevelopment of Navy Pier and the Museum Campus and encouraged movie making here in a big way by luring production of box office hits like The Blues Brothers.

Aaron Copland and William Warfield in 1963 (Library of Congress photo)

On October 4, 1997, Symphony Center officially opened its doors with a gala concert. The program included a performance of Lincoln Portrait with bass-baritone William Warfield as narrator and ninth music director Daniel Barenboim conducting. Warfield had become well known following a star turn as Joe—singing “Ol Man River“—in MGM‘s 1951 remake of Show Boat. He also recorded a highly acclaimed album of selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with soprano Leontyne Price in 1963. Long associated with Copland, Warfield had sung the premiere performances of the first set of Old American Songs (for soloist and orchestra) as well as the second set (for soloist and piano).

Steppenwolf Theatre Company actors Martha Lavey, Amy Morton, K. Todd Freeman, and Tracy Letts shared narrating duties at the Ravinia Festival on July 4, 2004. David Alan Miller conducted.

Senator Barack Obama narrates Copland’s Lincoln Portrait in Millennium Park on September 11, 2005. William Eddins conducts (Todd Rosenberg photo)

On September 11, 2005, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave a free concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Guest conductor William Eddins led the Orchestra in The Star-Spangled Banner, William Schuman’s arrangement of Ives’s Variations on America, Rimsky- Korsakov’s Sheherazade, and Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with freshman U.S. Senator Barack Obama as narrator. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma wrote: “When September 11 comes around each year, the craving for a moment of proverbial silence—a chance to slow down, remember, and mourn—is strong. Sunday’s concert, led by former CSO resident conductor William Eddins and featuring Senator Barack Obama as narrator in Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, provided just that kind of beneficent moment. Despite the steamy weather, a large crowd filled the pavilion’s seats and lawn, giving the CSO in general, and Obama in particular, vociferous applause. . . . Obama brought an orator’s skill without an actor’s slick veneer to Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. The comforting quality of his voice gave added emotional resonance to Lincoln’s words. The CSO was a powerful surging force behind him, alternately sinking into meditation and swelling to majestic heights.”

Most recently, James Earl Jones was narrator at Orchestra Hall on February 21 and 24, 2009, under the baton of James Gaffigan, and on July 18, 2009, soprano Jessye Norman was narrator with James Conlon conducting at the Ravinia Festival.

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Copland’s Lincoln Portrait on April 12, 13, 14, and 17, 2018. John Malkovich will be the narrator.

Byron JanisSending happy ninetieth birthday wishes to the legendary pianist Byron Janis!

Between 1952 and 1974, Janis appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions at Orchestra Hall, in Milwaukee, and at the Ravinia Festival, under the batons of music directors Fritz Reiner and Jean Martinon; associate conductors Walter Hendl and Irwin Hoffman; Ravinia Festival music directors Seiji Ozawa and James Levine; and guest conductors Leonard Bernstein, André Cluytens, Igor Markevitch, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Hans Rosbaud, Joseph Rosenstock, William Steinberg, Leopold Stokowski, Willem Van Otterloo, and David Zinman.

Janis made his debut with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 10, 1952, in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting.

Two years later—a few weeks shy of his twenty-sixth birthday—he first performed in Orchestra Hall on March 4 and 5, 1954, in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Fritz Reiner on the podium. “If you have it, you have it, and Mr. Janis does,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune following his debut. “He has good fingers, a direct approach, and a good tone. He has temperament and fire and he wants, perhaps more than anything else in the world, to play the piano. You can always tell that by the sound. It comes out in the explosions of the double octaves, in the instinctive sensing of the crest of a phrase, in the way a Russian song suddenly knows pain, which is not quite the same thing as being sad. Because of these things, because he is such a pianist, his Tchaikovsky was big, beautiful, and dynamic, yet with all its tensions it sensed the relaxed sweep of the grand style. Few things could be more stupid than to patronize such playing, which Reiner and the orchestra gave superb collaboration, part Russian song, part Russian bear. When I look forward to what that playing can be, I am speaking of it in Janis’s own terms. Give him time to strengthen those fingers, to deepen and polish that tone. But listen as he does it, for he is worth hearing now.”

He most recently appeared with the CSO in Orchestra Hall on April 20 and 21, 1967, in Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto and Strauss’s Burleske with Irwin Hoffman conducting, and at the Ravinia Festival on August 15, 1974, in Saint-Saëns’s Fifth Piano Concerto under the baton of David Zinman.

Janis also made several recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as follows:

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded March 2, 1957, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

Byron Janis’s complete RCA catalog—including his recordings with the CSO—recently was re-released in a box set.

STRAUSS Burleske for Piano and Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded March 4, 1957, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded February 21, 1959, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

LISZT Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded February 23, 1959, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Irwin Hoffman, conductor
Recorded by WFMT on April 20 and 21, 1967, in Orchestra Hall
Released in 1995 on From the Archives, vol. 10: Great Soloists

Happy, happy birthday!

Irwin Hoffman

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the death of Irwin Hoffman, a titled conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1964 until 1970. Hoffman died yesterday at the age of 93.

On August 13, 1964, Merrill Shepard, then-president of The Orchestral Association, announced that Hoffman had been engaged as the CSO’s new assistant conductor, beginning with the 1964-65 season. Hoffman was to serve the Orchestra and assist music director Jean Martinon in a variety of capacities, including conducting rehearsals and concerts (including youth concerts), leading the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as new score review.

Hoffman’s debut program with the Orchestra was as follows:

December 17 & 18, 1964
VILLA-LOBOS Uirapurú
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 1
Victor Aitay, violin
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

Program book announcement from January 1968

Program book announcement from January 1968

Martinon promoted Hoffman to associate conductor the following year. He would serve in that capacity for three seasons, and in January 1968, Association president Louis Sudler announced that Hoffman would be acting music director for the 1968-69 season. (On December 17, 1968, the Association announced that Georg Solti would become the Orchestra’s eighth music director, beginning with the 1969-70 season.)

For the 1969-70 season, Hoffman’s title was conductor and he led several weeks of subscription and popular concerts. In subsequent seasons, he returned as a guest conductor and most recently led the Orchestra in January 1977 with the following program:

January 12, 13, 14 & 15, 1977
January 17, 1977 (Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee)
KAY Of New Horizons
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Esther Glazer, violin
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

Irwin Hoffman with score

Hoffman made his conducting debut at the age of seventeen with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Robin Hood Dell. He also studied at the Juilliard School and later with Serge Koussevitzky at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Hoffman has held titled positions with several orchestras, including the Grant Park Music Festival; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Martha Graham Dance Company; Florida Gulf Coast Symphony, later the Florida Orchestra; Bogotá Philharmonic in Colombia; Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra; and the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra in Chile.

Kurt Loft of the Florida Orchestra has posted a beautiful tribute here.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to John Corigliano!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, happy birthday!

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Copland

On July 10, 1962, Aaron Copland conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in a program that began with Haydn’s Symphony no. 95, Stravinsky’s Ode for Orchestra, and Chávez’s Sinfonia india. After intermission, the composer returned to lead his Orchestral Variations and Old American Songs with bass William Warfield.

Copland’s appearance drew “the largest Tuesday crowd in many a Ravinia summer [and] everything added up to the best program given summer audiences here in a decade of concerts,” wrote Roger Dettmer in the Chicago American. “The strongest music was Mr. Copland’s Variations, tense and unrelenting, splendorously scored, and in design, memorable.”

July 10, 1962

July 10, 1962

William Warfield—who had given the premiere of the orchestral arrangement of the first set of songs as well as the first performance of the original version of the second set with the composer at the piano—was soloist for the occasion. Robert C. Marsh in the Chicago Sun-Times commented, “In the two sets of American songs, William Warfield showed us that the acoustically revamped pavilion is now a fit place for a vocal soloist, for his big, warm baritone came to us as no singer had before.”

Copland had made his debut with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 21, 1956, in a concert that had attracted over 5,000 people, despite a late-afternoon hailstorm. He led a program of his own works: An Outdoor Overture, suites from Our Town and Billy the Kid, the first two movements from the Third Symphony, and Lincoln Portrait with Claude Rains as narrator. For his debut at Orchestra Hall, the composer was soloist in his Piano Concerto on December 5, 1964, led by assistant conductor Irwin Hoffman.

This article also appears here.

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