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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beethoven
From the Archives, vol. 17 (2003)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THOMAS Ceremonial
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 6, 2000

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The First 100 Years (1990)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Daniel Barenboim (Don Getsug photo)

On November 15, 2017, Daniel Barenboim—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director—will celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. To commemorate this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles highlighting many of his activities with the Orchestra, including recordings, international tours, world and U.S. premieres, and more.

Barenboim’s history in Chicago began on January 19, 1958, when the fifteen-year-old pianist first performed a solo recital in Orchestra Hall. When he returned that fall for a second engagement, he attended his first CSO concert that included sixth music director Fritz Reiner leading Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. In his autobiography A Life in Music, Barenboim recounted that, “nothing I had heard in Europe or elsewhere had prepared me for the shock of the precision, the volume, and the intensity of the Chicago orchestra. It was like a perfect machine with a beating human heart.”

In June 1965, Barenboim made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn, and in February 1969, he first appeared with the Orchestra in Orchestra Hall in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez. He first conducted the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, at Michigan State University, and the first work on the program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré; a week later, they recorded it in Medinah Temple.

Fritz Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 30 and 31, 1958

In February 1989, it was announced that Daniel Barenboim would succeed Sir Georg Solti to become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, beginning in the 1991-92 season.

Stay tuned!

This article also appears here.

MENDELSSOHN Wedding MarchThe commercial recording legacy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—under second music director Frederick Stock—began on May 1, 1916. For the Columbia Graphophone Company (at an undocumented location in Chicago), they recorded Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre; and Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, Heart Wounds and The Last Spring.

Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Grieg’s The Last Spring were each on the first 80-rpm disc issued in October 1916, and a Columbia Records sales brochure raved, “The deepest glories vibrant in such a familiar composition as Mendelssohn’s Wedding March are unguessed until interpreted by such an orchestra as this. From the first trumpet fanfare to the great central crescendo is very joy and glory articulate! . . . There can be no pleasure beyond enjoying such music as the Chicago Symphony here brings to every music-loving home.”

Recording_Centennial_Rotunda_Display_102.75x60

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4-2

To commemorate this legacy, this collage of record and CD labels is on display in the first floor of Symphony Center’s Rotunda through the end of the Orchestra’s current—the 125th—season. Details of all of the recordings included are below (all recordings were made at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

Austrian pianist Artur Schnabel made his debut with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 11, 1942, performing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with George Szell conducting. On July 22 and 24, Schnabel and the Orchestra recorded the Fourth along with Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto at Orchestra Hall for Victor Records. Frederick Stock conducted these, his last, recording sessions with the Orchestra; he died a few short months later on October 20.

PROKOFIEV Scythian Suite-2 WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod-2The Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere of Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite under the baton of the composer on December 6, 1918. On March 16, 1945, third music director Désiré Defauw recorded the work for RCA.

Fourth music director Artur Rodzinski led the Orchestra in a complete performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde—with Set Svanholm and Kirsten Flagstad in the title roles—at the Civic Opera House on November 16, 1947. A month later on December 14, he led the Orchestra in recording sessions for the Prelude and Liebestod at Orchestra Hall.

STRAUSS Ein HeldenlebenMUSSORGSKY Pictures at an ExhibitionFor Mercury Records, fifth music director Rafael Kubelík led the Orchestra’s first recording of Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on April 23 and 24, 1951. Principal trumpet Adolph Herseth performed the opening fanfare.

On March 6, 1954, sixth music director Fritz Reiner and the Orchestra recorded together for the first time: Strauss’s Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Ein Heldenleben for RCA. (Reiner’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

BARTOK Music for Strings, Percussion, and CelestaBRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2At the third annual Grammy awards ceremony on April 12, 1961, the Orchestra’s recording of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta received the award for Best Classical Performance–Orchestra. Reiner had conducted the RCA release. That same evening, the Orchestra’s recording of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto—also on RCA and with Erich Leinsdorf conducting—earned the award for Best Classical Performance–Concerto or Instrumental Soloist for Sviatoslav Richter. These were the first two Grammy awards earned for recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

SCHUMANN Piano ConcertoPROKOFIEV Alexander NevskyReiner led the Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by its founder Margaret Hillis), and mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky for RCA—the first recording collaboration with the Orchestra and the Chorus—on March 7, 1959, at Orchestra Hall.

Two years after winning the prestigious 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Van Cliburn made his first recording with the Orchestra on April 16, 1960: Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Reiner conducting for RCA. (A complete list of Cliburn’s appearances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found here.)

MARTIN Concerto for Seven WindsOn March 19, 1966, seventh music director Jean Martinon led the Orchestra in recording sessions for Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra for RCA. Featured soloists were CSO principals Clark Brody (clarinet), Willard Elliot (bassoon), Donald Peck (flute), Dale Clevenger (horn, in his first week on the job), Ray Still (oboe), Adolph Herseth (trumpet), Donald Koss (timpani), and Jay Friedman (trombone). (Martinon’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 6-2NIELSEN Clarinet Concerto-2Benny Goodman recorded Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with the Orchestra on June 18, 1966, for RCA. Morton Gould conducted. (Gould’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

At Medinah Temple on February 20 and 21, 1968, Leopold Stokowski and the Orchestra recorded Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 6  for RCA.

BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet-2RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Sheherazade-2Carlo Maria Giulini—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor—recorded selections from Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet for Angel on October 13 and 14, 1969, at Medinah Temple.

The Orchestra made its second recording of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade on June 30 and July 1, 1969, at Medinah Temple for Angel. Seiji Ozawa, the Ravinia Festival’s first music director, conducted and concertmaster Victor Aitay was violin soloist.

DVORAK Cello Concerto-2MAHLER Symphony no. 5During eighth music director Georg Solti‘s first season as music director, the Orchestra performed Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at Carnegie Hall on January 9, 1970, and were called back for twelve curtain calls. Beginning on March 26 at Medinah Temple, Solti and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc—their first recording together—for London Records.

Daniel Barenboim, who would later become ninth music director, made his first recording with the Orchestra on November 11, 1970, at Medinah Temple. For Angel, he led sessions for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with his wife Jacqueline du Pré as soloist. (A summary of du Pré’s association with the Orchestra is here.)

MAHLER Symphony No. 8-2Before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the first concert of its first tour to Europe in 1971, Solti led recording sessions for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Sofiensaal in Vienna on August 30, 31, and September 1. Soloists included Heather HarperLucia Popp (more about Popp’s performances with the Orchestra is here), Arleen AugérYvonne MintonHelen WattsRené KolloJohn Shirley-Quirk, and Martti Talvela. The recording won three 1972 Grammy awards for Album of the Year–Classical, Best Choral Performance–Classical (other than opera) (for the Chorus of the Vienna State OperaSingverein Chorus, and Vienna Boys’ Choir), and Best Engineered Recording–Classical.

BEETHOVEN Fidelio BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6-2On December 13, 1977, Barenboim and the Orchestra recorded Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony for Deutsche Grammophon, part of a complete cycle of the composer’s symphonies that also included the Te Deum, Helgoland, and Psalm 150.

Following concerts in Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall, Solti led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (including Hildegard Behrens as Leonore and Peter Hofmann as Florestan) and in recording sessions for Beethoven’s Fidelio—”the first digitally recorded opera to be released,” according to Gramophone—at Medinah Temple on May 21, 22, 23, and 24, 1979.

ORFF Carmina Burana DOWNS Bear Down, Chicago BearsSecond music director of the Ravinia Festival, James Levine led the Orchestra, Chorus, Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, and soloists (June Anderson, Phillip Creech, and Bernd Weikl) in sessions for Orff’s Carmina burana on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon. The recording was awarded the 1986 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera).

At the end of a subscription concert at Orchestra Hall on January 23, 1986, Solti led the Orchestra and Chorus in a spirited encore of  the Chicago Bears‘ fight song “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” in anticipation of the team’s Super Bowl victory. The day after the game, the work was recorded by London Records.

BRAHMS Double Concerto-2BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9-2Solti led recording sessions at Medinah Temple for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—the second time he and the Orchestra and Chorus had recorded the work—on September 28, 30, and October 7, 1986, for London. Soloists were Jessye Norman, Reinhild Runkel, Robert Schunk, and Hans Sotin. The release was awarded the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Claudio Abbado, second principal guest conductor, led the Orchestra in Brahms’s Double Concerto with Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma (future Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant) as soloists on November 7 and 8, 1986, for CBS Records.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1Closing the 97th season in June 1988, Leonard Bernstein led the Orchestra in performances of Shostakovich’s First and Seventh symphonies. Recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon, the release received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

On March 15, 16, and 17, 1990, Barenboim led the world premiere performances of composer-in-residence John Corigliano’s Symphony no. 1, commissioned for the Orchestra. The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—was awarded two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition.

Fantasia 2000BARTOK The Wooden PrinceThe recording of Bartók’s The Wooden Prince and Cantata profana led by Pierre Boulez for Deutsche Grammophon—recorded on December 19, 20, and 21, 1991—was awarded four 1993 Grammy awards: Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Performance of a Choral Work, and Best Engineered Recording–Classical. (A complete list of Boulez’s recordings with the Orchestra is here and his complete Grammy awards are here.)

Between 1993 and 1996, Levine led the Orchestra and Chorus in recording sessions at Medinah Temple for Disney‘s feature film Fantasia 2000. The movie was released on January 1, 2000.

VARESE Amerique etcFALLA Gardens of SpainShortly after being named the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Boulez led sessions for Varèse’s Amériques, Arcana, Déserts, and Ionisation in December 1995 and 1996. The Deutsche Grammophon release was awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

In May 1997 at Medinah Temple, the Orchestra recorded Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and The Three-Cornered Hat for Teldec. For Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Barenboim was piano soloist and Plácido Domingo conducted; for The Three-Cornered Hat, Jennifer Larmore was mezzo-soprano soloist and Barenboim conducted.

MAHLER Symphony no. 3BRAHMS Violin ConcertoA former Youth Auditions winner and member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rachel Barton recorded Brahms’s and Joachim’s violin concertos for Cedille Records on July 2 and 3, 2002. Carlos Kalmar conducted.

In his first concerts as principal conductor on October 19, 20, and 21, 2006, Bernard Haitink led the Orchestra, women of the Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe), the Chicago Children’s Choir, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung in Mahler’s Third Symphony. The work is recorded as the inaugural release on CSO Resound.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4CSOR_SP_booklet_rainbow_nobox.inddIn May 2008, Haitink and the Orchestra recorded Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony for CSO Resound. The release was awarded the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Boulez led the Orchestra in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Symphony in Three Movements, and Four Studies in February and March 2009 for CSO Resound. Soloists in the Pulcinella were Roxana Constantinescu, Nicholas Phan, and Kyle Ketelsen.

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastiqueVR_booklet_CSOR_901_1008.inddOn January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, Riccardo Muti—in his first concerts as music director designate—led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (Barbara FrittoliOlga Borodina, Mario Zeffiri, and Ildar Abdrazakov) in Verdi’s Requiem. The subsequent CSO Resound recording was awarded 2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.

Following his first concert as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s tenth music director (for more than 25,000 people in Millennium Park) in September 2010, Muti led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (Gérard Depardieu, Mario Zeffiri, and Kyle Ketelsen) in Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Lélio. The two-disc set was released on CSO Resound in September 2015.

VERDI OtelloBates and ClyneOn April 7, 9, and 12, 2011, Muti led concert performances—recorded by CSO Resound—of Verdi’s Otello at Orchestra Hall. Along with the Orchestra, Chorus, and Chicago Children’s Chorus, soloists included Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role, Krassimira Stoyanova as Desdemona, and Carlo Guelfi as Iago.

In February 2012, Muti led world premieres by the Orchestra’s Mead Composers-in-Residence: Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry and Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy. Both works were recorded for CSO Resound and released as digital downloads.

LincolnFor Sony Classical, composer John Williams led the Orchestra and Chorus in recording sessions at Orchestra Hall for his soundtrack for the motion picture Lincoln. Director Steven Spielberg was on hand to supervise.

Cheers to the next 100!

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Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim in rehearsal with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 1969

Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim in rehearsal with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 1969 (Terry’s photo)

Pierre Boulez’s first conducting appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1969 were greatly anticipated. His book Notes of an Apprenticeship had recently been published in English, and the Orchestra would be performing his music—the U.S. premiere of Livre pour cordes (two movements from his Livre pour quatuor from 1948, reworked in 1968 for string orchestra)—for the first time.

The concerts also included the CSO debut of Jacqueline du Pré in Schumann’s Cello Concerto on February 27 and 28 and the CSO subscription concert debut of her husband, Daniel Barenboim, in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto on February 20, 21, and 22. (Barenboim first appeared with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on June 24, 1965, in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn conducting.)

In the Chicago Tribune, Peter Gorner wrote: “If Diogenes [the cynic] could have made it to Orchestra Hall last night, he would have blown out his lantern and become a believer. For there have existed few composers more honest than Debussy, Bartók, Webern, and [Boulez’s teacher at the Paris Conservatory] Olivier Messiaen. And there are few interpreters more honest than Pierre Boulez. Honesty depends upon conviction, and Boulez firmly believes in the classics of our century. He also is immensely qualified to spread the word, possessing a composer’s mind, a conductor’s savvy, and a poet’s soul.”

On Barenboim, Gorner continued: “The Bartók was his flashy First Piano Concerto, with the ubiquitous Daniel Barenboim as soloist, and a magnificent one at that. His technique made the concerto sound easier than it is, and he conjured the steely touch and native awareness of cumulative energy to make it work. The colloquy between percussion and piano in the andante which followed sounded flawless.”

Jacqueline du Pré's program biography in February 1969

Jacqueline du Pré’s program biography in February 1969

In his review for the Chicago Daily News of the second week’s program, Bernard Jacobson wrote: “Boulez has emphasized that in its new form [Livre pour cordes] is far more than a mere arrangement of the original—it is a full-scale recomposition, tackling the same musical problems but in terms of an entirely different medium. The result is music of formidable textural complexity, great sonorous variety, and powerful dramatic impact. . . . Yet Boulez’s characteristic intellectual control has ensured that the myriad events cohere in a rigorous organization of immediately perceptible unity.”

And in the Chicago Tribune, regarding the “immensely gifted young cellist Jacqueline du Pré,” Thomas Willis added: “[She] plays for keeps all the time. Each note has maximum persuasive power. There is a total commitment of both physiological and musical resources. The melodic line is maximally weighted. When she is not playing, she is often reacting to the orchestral dialog—so much a part of the Schumann concerto.”

This article also appears here.

Jacqueline du Pré On January 26, 2015, we celebrate the seventieth birthday of the remarkable English cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who performed and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1969 and 1970.

According to her husband—and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director from 1991 until 2006—Daniel Barenboim in his autobiography A Life in Music: “Jacqueline’s way of playing did not really change from the time she was a teenager . . . Even then, she played with incredible intensity and vivacity. Obviously she continued to develop, but the basic personality and character of her cello playing was established at a very early age. Of all the great musicians I have met in my life, I have never encountered anyone for whom music was such a natural form of expression as it was for Jacqueline. With most musicians you feel that they are human beings who happen to play music. With her, you had the feeling that here was a musician who also happened to be a human being. Of course, one had to eat and drink and sleep and have friends. But with her the proportions were different—music was the centre of her existence.”

Tragically, her performing career was cut short and she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 1973. Du Pré died in London on October 19, 1987, at the age of forty-two.

Du Pré only performed and recorded with the Orchestra on a handful of occasions, but those occasions were notable not only for her playing but also because of the conductors with whom she shared the stage.

In February 1969, Pierre Boulez made his first guest conducting appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The first week included Daniel Barenboim’s subscription concert debut as piano soloist, and on the second week’s program, Jacqueline du Pré made her debut with the Orchestra, as soloist in Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor.

Later that same year in November, Georg Solti made his first conducting appearances as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director. The centerpiece of that program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor with du Pré as soloist.

DB & du Pré Medinah Temple recording - Nov 11 1970

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

In November 1970, du Pré and Barenboim appeared in a series of concerts at Michigan State University as part of a festival celebrating the bicentennial of Ludwig van Beethoven. The pair presented an evening of chamber music on November 2, and Barenboim gave an all-Beethoven piano recital the following night. On November 4, Barenboim made his conducting debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the first piece on the program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. Two days later, du Pré was soloist in Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto. The complete programs are here.

In the Lansing State Journal after the November 4 concert, Winnifred Sherburn commented: “Miss du Pré, cello soloist with the symphony, must be heard and seen to be believed. Her beautiful playing of the Dvořák Concerto for Violoncello enthralled the capacity audience. Barenboim, who conducted, gave the most sensitive support, perfectly controlling the ensemble. The effect was that of a large orchestra listening to a solo instrument with the closest attention. . . . Though loosely knit, the music was brilliant and dramatic and Miss du Pré played it gloriously with all her wonderful tone, technique, and style.” The complete review is here.

Dvorak CSO du Pré

Later that week in the Journal, Mary Perpich wrote: “But it was Miss du Pré that took the audience’s hearts with her unique rendering of the Saint-Saëns concerto. She is fascinating to watch. Looking almost childlike in her full-length evening gown of purple and green with her long, blonde hair pulled back from her face, the 25-year-old master musician perched on a chair next to her husband and began her thoroughly captivating performance. And while she played she seemed to go into a trance, caressing the cello lovingly as if it were a newborn child, head moving gently from side to side, she and her instrument produced beautifully tempered music. She broke the spell only twice to watch her husband a cue and smile triumphantly at the orchestra concertmaster. The audience brought her back for five bows before she finally left [the] stage.” The complete review is here.

On November 11, 1970, at Medinah Temple, du Pré recorded Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and Silent Woods with Daniel Barenboim leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For Angel Records, Peter Andry was the producer and Carson Taylor was the balance engineer. The recording has been in print ever since.

Pierre Boulez in rehearsal at Orchestra Hall in February 1969

Pierre Boulez in rehearsal at Orchestra Hall in February 1969

As we look forward to celebrating Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez‘s ninetieth birthday in March 2015, we look back at his extraordinary relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which began in February 1969.

Boulez’s first conducting appearances were greatly anticipated. His book Notes of an Apprenticeship had recently been published in English, and the Orchestra would be performing his music—the U.S. premiere of Livre pour cordes (two movements from his Livre pour quatuor from 1948, reworked in 1968 for string orchestra)—for the first time. The concerts also included the CSO debut of cellist Jacqueline du Pré and the CSO subscription concert debut of her husband, pianist Daniel Barenboim. (Barenboim first appeared with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on June 24, 1965, in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn conducting.) The complete programs were as follows:

Feb 20 1969

February 20, 21 & 22, 1969
DEBUSSY Jeux
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Daniel Barenboim, piano
WEBERN Passacaglia, Op. 1
WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MESSIAEN Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum

February 27 & 28, 1969
HAYDN Symphony No. 91 in E-flat Major
SCHUMANN Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
BOULEZ Livre pour cordes
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6

In the Chicago Tribune, Peter Gorner wrote: “If Diogenes [the cynic] could have made it to Orchestra Hall last night, he would have blown out his lantern and became a believer. For there have existed few composers more honest than Debussy, Bartók, Webern, and [Boulez’s teacher at the Paris Conservatory] Olivier Messiaen. And there are few interpreters more honest than Pierre Boulez. Honesty depends upon conviction, and Boulez firmly believes in the classics of our century. He also is immensely qualified to spread the word, possessing a composer’s mind, a conductor’s savvy, and a poet’s soul.”

On Barenboim, Gorner continued: “The Bartók was his flashy First Piano Concerto, with the ubiquitous Daniel Barenboim as soloist, and a magnificent one at that. His technique made the concerto sound easier than it is, and he conjured the steely touch and native awareness of cumulative energy to make it work. The colloquy between percussion and piano in the andante which followed sounded flawless.”

Jacqueline du Pré

Jacqueline du Pré

In his review for the Daily News of the second week’s program, Bernard Jacobson wrote: “Boulez has emphasized that in its new form [Livre pour cordes] is far more than a mere arrangement of the original—it is a full-scale recomposition, tackling the same musical problems but in terms of an entirely different medium. The result is music of formidable textural complexity, great sonorous variety, and powerful dramatic impact. . . . Yet Boulez’s characteristic intellectual control has ensured that the myriad events cohere in a rigorous organization of immediately perceptible unity.”

And in the Tribune regarding the “immensely gifted young cellist Jacqueline du Pré,” Thomas Willis added: “[she] plays for keeps all the time. Each note has maximum persuasive power. There is a total commitment of both physiological and musical resources. The melodic line is maximally weighted. When she is not playing, she is often reacting to the orchestral dialog—so much a part of the Schumann concerto.”

Pierre Boulez rehearsing the Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók's First Piano Concerto in February 1969

Pierre Boulez rehearsing Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto in February 1969

Numerous upcoming programs celebrate Pierre Boulez, including Beyond the Score: A Pierre Dream on November 14 and 16, 2014, and Boulez’s Piano Works on March 15, 2015, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich.

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On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1969, Georg Solti officially began his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director. He led the Orchestra in Ives’s Three Places in New England, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré, and Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony.

In the program book, an open letter from Solti was included and read:

“Dear Friends:

“As this is a very great moment for me personally, I felt I wanted to address you individually.

“It is with tremendous pride that I take over the Musical Directorship of this great Symphony Orchestra. With your help and support, I hope and aim to continue the work, started 79 years ago by Theodore Thomas, to make this the finest orchestra in the world.

“When planning my first programme I wanted to pay homage to American music, selecting a work by probably the greatest American composer, Charles Ives. It was not known when I planned this, that the first concert would fall on Thanksgiving Day—what a good omen. This is doubly appropriate; firstly, because the Three Places in New England bears witness to the inspirational greatness of America and her fight for liberty; secondly, this concert is my own personal thanksgiving for the gift of this wonderful instrument, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune wrote that “One should not necessarily take the first program as typical of a conductor’s point of view, especially if he is a builder with time to shape and the inclination to move ahead. But the signs were there for anyone to read: strong American music for strong ears, a gifted soloist still in her twenties, and, to top it off, a performance of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony which let the music speak for itself. Extension of these three elements could go a long way toward recovering the orchestra’s lagging reputation here and abroad.” (The complete article is here, courtesy of Proquest via the Chicago Public Library.)

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Theodore Thomas

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