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On May 23, 2023, we commemorate the centennial of legendary Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha (1923–2009). Over the course of four decades, she was a frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and in Milwaukee. As a recitalist, she regularly appeared under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents between 1967 and 2001.

De Larrocha’s auspicious CSO and Carnegie Hall debuts occurred on November 8, 1966, when she performed one of her signature works, Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain under the baton of seventh music director Jean Martinon. “Miss de Larrocha is a marvel. Her playing has perfect finish, complete authority, and rhythmic suppleness,” wrote Harold C. Schonberg in the New York Times. “As a Spaniard, she brings special authority to the Falla work, that curious and attractive hybrid of Spanish feeling and French technique. . . . She is a wonderful pianist and more: she is an artist.”

“The diminutive pianist from Barcelona may be the youngest seventy-six-year-old virtuoso before the public,” according to John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune, following de Larrocha’s July 10, 1999, appearance with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival. “Her splendidly even fingering, rounded tone, pearly legato runs, and springy rhythmic articulations made her an ideal interpreter for Mozart’s sunny Piano Concerto no. 19 in F, K. 459. Everything was in the best of taste, nothing was overdone or excessively manicured, making this perfect midsummer Mozart.”

A complete list of Alicia de Larrocha’s appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below.

November 8, 1966, Carnegie Hall
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Jean Martinon, conductor

November 26, 1966, Orchestra Hall
MONTSALVATGE Concerto breve
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

October 3 and 4, 1968, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
István Kertész, conductor

August 11, 1973, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 29, 30, and May 1, 1976, Orchestra Hall
May 12, 1976, Carnegie Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 8, 1976, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
James Levine, conductor

August 10, 1978, Ravinia Festival
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
James Conlon, conductor

December 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1978, Orchestra Hall
December 18, 1978, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 10, 1981, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
James Levine, conductor

October 15, 16, 17, and 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Garcia Navarro, conductor

July 30, 1983, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Jesús López-Cobos, conductor

August 10, 1985, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

December 5, 6, and 7, 1985, Orchestra Hall
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

July 12, 1986, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
James Levine, conductor

July 16, 1988, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271 (Jeunehomme)
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor

August 10, 1989, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3, C Minor, Opus 37
Edo de Waart, conductor

August 12, 1989, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Edo de Waart, conductor

October 12, 13, and 14, 1989, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
David Zinman, conductor

July 28, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Gianluigi Gelmetti, conductor

August 2, 1991, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Marek Janowski, conductor

July 18, 1992, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
James Conlon, conductor

July 17, 1994, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

July 22, 1995, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

February 29, March 1, 2, 3, and 5, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Daniele Gatti, conductor

August 2, 1996, Ravinia Festival
FALLA Nights in the Garden of Spain
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 10, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

This article also appears here.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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