You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘John Bruce Yeh’ tag.

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to Estonian American conductor Neeme Järvi! A frequent guest to the Orchestra Hall podium for nearly forty years, he has led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a remarkable array of works, including one U.S. and two world premieres. Also with the CSO, Järvi has made four recordings, including Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, along with works by Hindemith, Kodály, Schmidt, and Scriabin, all for Chandos Records.

Neeme Järvi (Simon van Boxtel photo)

A complete list of his appearances with the Orchestra is below.

November 21, 22, and 23, 1985, Orchestra Hall
LYADOV Polonaise, Op. 49
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Yefim Bronfman, piano
STENHAMMAR Symphony No. 1 in F Major (U.S. premiere)

December 10, 11, 12, and 15, 1987, Orchestra Hall
STENHAMMAR Intermezzo from Sängen, Op. 44
STENHAMMAR Florez och Blanzeflor, Op. 3
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
ALFVÉN Skogen sover, Op. 28, No. 6
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
SIBELIUS Incidental Music from Kuolema
SIBELIUS Four Songs
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
TUBIN Symphony No. 4 in A Major (Sinfonia lirica)

December 17, 18, and 19, 1987, Orchestra Hall
GLAZUNOV Prelude from From the Middle Ages, Op. 79
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 2 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 129
Samuel Magad, violin
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 4 in C Major, Op. 112

November 10, 11, and 12, 1988, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN Symphony No. 88 in G Major
LLOYD Symphony No. 7 (world premiere)

April 20, 21, 22, and 25, 1989, Orchestra Hall
SCHMIDT Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major
CORIGLIANO Pied Piper Fantasy (Concerto for Flute and Orchestra)
James Galway, flute
Marie Bennett, Charlie Chen, Brian Davis, Demarre McGill, Vicki Meier, Anita Mooney, Katherine Naftzger, Esther Sullivan, Kyra Tyler, and Caroline You, flutes
Sharyon Culberson and Brad Fox, percussion
Tracy Cunningham, Kelly Krueger, Anthony McGill, and Carlos Velez, Jr., actors
René Roy, director
Schmidt’s Symphony no. 2 was recorded in Orchestra Hall live in concert.

November 22, 24, 25, and 28, 1989, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Symphony No. 3
SCRIABIN Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition
Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition were recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 27 and 28, 1989.

February 15, 16, 18, and 20, 1990, Orchestra Hall
KODÁLY Háry János, Op. 35a
Laurence Kaptain, cimbalom
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103 (Egyptian)
Lorin Hollander, piano
KODÁLY Variations on a Hungarian Folksong (The Peacock)
KODÁLY Dances of Galánta
Kodály’s Háry János, Peacock Variations, and Dances of Galánta were recorded in Orchestra Hall live in concert.

January 31, February 1, 2, and 5, 1991, Orchestra Hall
HINDEMITH Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 38
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Radu Lupu, piano
SCHMIDT Symphony No. 3
Hindemith’s Concerto for Orchestra and Schmidt’s Symphony no. 3 were recorded in Orchestra Hall live in concert.

October 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, 1993, Orchestra Hall
TUBIN/Raid Elegy for Strings
ELLER Folk Tune from Songs of My Homeland
DARZINS Melancholy Waltz
MEDINS Aria
NIELSEN Clarinet Concerto, Op. 57
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 13

January 5, 6, 7, and 10, 1995, Orchestra Hall
BARBER Intermezzo and Under the Willow Tree from Vanessa
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (Rhenish)
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Excerpts from the Incidental Music for The Snow Maiden

February 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1997, Orchestra Hall
RAPCHAK Saetas (world premiere)
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 7
Rachel Barton, violin
NIELSEN Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 (The Inextinguishable)

May 18, 19, 20, and 23, 2000, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Overture to Manfred, Op. 115
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Samuel Magad, violin
John Sharp, cello
DOHNÁNYI Symphony No. 2 in E Major, Op. 40

October 16, 17, 18, and 21, 2008, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Yefim Bronfman, piano
TANEYEV Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 12

December 8, 9, and 10, 2016, Orchestra Hall
GLAZUNOV Concert Waltz No. 1 in D Major, Op. 47
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Vadim Gluzman, violin
SIBELIUS Suite from Karelia, Op. 11
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82

April 20, 22, and 23, 2017, Orchestra Hall
April 21, 2017, Wheaton College
PÄRT Fratres
Robert Chen, violin
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. Posth.
Robert Chen, violin
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)

December 7, 8, 9, and 12, 2017, Orchestra Hall
SMETANA Music from The Bartered Bride
BARBER Cello Concerto, Op. 22
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 5 in F Major, Op. 76

Happy, happy birthday!

This article also appears here.

Willard Elliot in the early 1990s (Jim Steere photo)

For more than thirty years, Willard Elliot (1926-2000) was the foundation of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s wind section. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he studied piano and clarinet before switching to the bassoon at the age of fourteen, even though he wanted to play the instrument much sooner. According to his widow, Patricia, “He was waiting until he was big enough to play the bassoon.” Elliot earned a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University, and, at the age of nineteen, he completed a master’s degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music. He spent three years with the Houston Symphony and eleven years as principal bassoon with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to performing with the Fourth Army Band at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. In 1964, Elliot was hired by seventh music director Jean Martinon as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal bassoon.

As a composer, Elliot was co-winner of the 1961 Koussevitzky Foundation Award for his Elegy for Orchestra. Under Seiji Ozawa, he was soloist with the CSO in the world premiere of his Concerto for Bassoon, first performed at the Ravinia Festival on June 27, 1965; and Richard Graef was soloist in The Snake Charmer (Concerto for Alto Flute and Orchestra), first performed on Youth Concerts on January 7, 1976, under the baton of then–associate conductor Henry Mazer. Elliot also composed two symphonies; arrangements of works by Glinka, Granados, Grieg, Mozart, Ravel, Scriabin, and Weber; along with numerous chamber works for a variety of instrument combinations.

During his thirty-three-year tenure, Elliot performed as a soloist under Claudio Abbado, Lawrence Foster, Carlo Maria Giulini, Morton Gould, Antonio Janigro, Martinon, and Sir Georg Solti. On March 19, 1966, he was a soloist—along with his colleagues Clark Brody, Dale Clevenger, Jay Friedman, Adolph Herseth, Donald Koss, Donald Peck, and Ray Still—in recording sessions for Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra for RCA under Martinon’s baton. On February 4, 1984, Elliot recorded Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with Abbado conducting for Deutsche Grammophon.


As an educator, Elliot taught at the University of North Texas and DePaul and Northwestern universities, and he also coached the Civic Orchestra of Chicago‘s bassoon section. Following his retirement from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1996, Elliot and his wife moved to Fort Worth to teach music at Texas Christian University and give master classes around the country. They also continued their work with Bruyere Music Publishers (founded in 1986), preparing his compositions and arrangements for publication.

“When I joined the CSO in 1992, Willard was nearing the end of a long performing career. I was very aware of being a different generation from Willard, but he was very collegial from the first time we worked together,” commented William Buchman, assistant principal bassoon. “He encouraged me to play with real gusto and engagement. It made me feel like my contributions to the Orchestra’s sound were important.”

“Willard Elliot was a fascinating man and wonderful musician,” according to John Bruce Yeh, assistant principal clarinet. He was “a true renaissance musician: arranger, composer, educator, as well as orchestral bassoonist par excellence.” Elliot and Yeh were both founding members of the Chicago Symphony Winds, and together they toured and recorded Elliot’s transcription of Grieg’s Four Lyric Pieces as well as Mozart’s Serenade in E-flat major, K. 375, both for the Sheffield Lab label.

Willard Elliot in 1970 (Zeloof-Stuart Photography)

“In 1979, I formed Chicago Pro Musica,” Yeh continued, and “Willard and I were pleased to explore a wide range of chamber music with our CSO colleagues and guests.” In 1983, the ensemble recorded Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale along with Elliot’s arrangement of Scriabin’s Waltz in A-flat major for their debut on Reference Recordings. “Willard loved the music of Scriabin and the composer’s exotic harmonies. Those of us in the CSO woodwind section to this day fondly remember some of the inspired little signature harmonic touches Willard would inject into standard repertoire, a small alteration that only those close by would be able to hear during a rehearsal, for example. He would always liven things up that way.” The ensemble won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best New Classical Artist.

“Willard was always an upbeat man with a smile on his face,” remembered Michael Henoch, assistant principal oboe. “He was, of course, a marvelous musician, a consummate master of the bassoon, but he had many other interests including geology, gardening, and researching his family’s genealogy. . . . He had a huge presence in the CSO woodwind section, and I was honored to perform with him. Over the years, I also played many chamber music concerts with him in the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, Chicago Pro Musica, and the Chicago Chamber Musicians.  We played many of his own compositions and arrangements, all crafted with a high degree of professionalism.”

“I remember being aware that Willard was always so well-prepared and enthusiastic. He had played just about every piece at least once before, and he had a photographic memory of all of his previous performances,” added Buchman. “He also was remarkably organized with his reeds. He had a journal in which he kept notes about every reed he made and used, including what pieces he had used each reed for. . . . He adjusted well to retirement, though, and he kindly bestowed upon me a couple of large boxes of reed cane he had been storing for decades. I still have some of it today!”

Willard Elliot’s Two Sketches for Woodwind Quintet—performed by Jennifer Gunn, Michael Henoch, John Bruce Yeh, William Buchman, and Oto Carrillo—can be heard on CSO Sessions Episode 19, available on CSOtv from May 6 until June 4, 2021.

Elliot also can be heard as part of the continuo in the January 1990 London recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, under the baton of Sir Georg Solti and featured on the May 11, 2021, From the CSO’s Archives: The First 130 Years radio broadcast.

Wishing a very happy eightieth-fifth birthday to Zubin Mehta!

Zubin Mehta in 2016 (Wilfried Hösl photo)

A frequent and favorite guest conductor in Chicago, Mehta has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival.

December 1, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, piano

November 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1988, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Marvis Martin, soprano
Maureen Forrester, contralto
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 23, 25, and 27, 1988, Orchestra Hall
MESSIAEN Turangalîla-symphonie
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Jeanne Loriod, ondès martenot

August 9, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Midori, violin
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

August 10, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Marvis Martin, soprano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Marvis Martin, soprano
Gweneth Bean, contralto
Ben Heppner, tenor
Julien Robbins, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

February 19, 20, 21, and 22, 1992, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
FOSS Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrows) (world premiere)
RAVEL Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe

February 26, 27, 28, and 29, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Garrin, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Lucy Ding, director

February 2, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Zubin Mehta at La Scala in 2010 (Marco Brescia photo)

December 16, 17, and 19, 1993, Orchestra Hall
WEBERN Passacaglia for Orchestra, Op. 1
WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
WEBERN Concerto, Op. 24
Richard Graef, flute
Michael Henoch, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Gail Williams, horn
William Scarlett, trumpet
Jay Friedman, trombone
Samuel Magad, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
Mary Sauer, piano
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)

January 26, 27, and 31, 1995, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 6 in C Major, D. 589
ORFF Carmina burana
Janet Williams, soprano
Frank Lopardo, tenor
Bo Skovhus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
William Chin, director

February 2, 4, and 5, 1995
MOZART Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550
SCHOENBERG Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
Richard Graef, flute
Michael Henoch, oboe
Grover Schiltz, English horn
Larry Combs, clarinet
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
J. Lawrie Bloom, bass clarinet
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Burl Lane, contrabassoon
Dale Clevenger, horn
Gail Williams, horn
Rubén González, violin
Joseph Golan, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
John Sharp, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
Donald Peck, flute
Michael Henoch, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Gregory Smith, clarinet
Bruce Grainger, bassoon
Dale Clevenger, horn
Gail Williams, horn
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Rubén González, violin
Joseph Golan, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
John Sharp, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)

June 22 and 23, 1995, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3, C minor, Op. 37
Emanuel Ax, piano
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34

June 24, 1995, Ravinia Festival
PUCCINI Tosca
Floria Tosca Elizabeth Holleque, soprano
Mario Cavaradossi Richard Leech, tenor
Baron Scarpia Sergei Leiferkus, baritone
Angelotti Stephen Morscheck, bass-baritone
Sacristan David Evitts, baritone
Spoletta Matthew Polenzani, tenor
Sciarrone Victor Benedetti, baritone
Jailer Mark McCrory, bass-baritone
A Young Shepherd Suzanne Shields, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Lisa Sirvatka, director

June 27, 1995, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Opus 81
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Ralph Kirshbaum, cello
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

January 18, 19, and 20, 1996, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Overture to Rosamunde, D. 644
SCHUBERT Symphony in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
STRAUSS Domestic Symphony, Op. 53

Zubin Mehta in 2007 (Oded Antman photo)

February 20, 21, 22, and 25, 1997, Orchestra Hall
LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 4
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

February 27, 28, and March 1, 1997, Orchestra Hall
KORNGOLD Suite from Much Ado About Nothing
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Yefim Bronfman, piano
MENDELSSOHN Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20

February 18, 20, and 22, 1998, Orchestra Hall
WAGNER A Faust Overture
HINDEMITH Symphony, Mathis der Maler
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, piano

February 26, 27, 28, and March 3, 1998, Orchestra Hall
CRUMB Ancient Voices of Children
Barbara Ann Martin, soprano
R. Anton Briones, boy soprano
Alex Klein, oboe and harmonica
Frederic Chrislip, mandolin and musical saw
Sarah Bullen, harp
Mary Sauer, electric piano and toy piano
Gordon Peters, percussion
Patricia Dash, percussion
Edward Atkatz, percussion
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

February 8, 9, and 10, 2001, Orchestra Hall
BERLIOZ The Trojans, Op. 29, Part 1: The Fall of Troy
Cassandra Deborah Voigt, soprano
Chorebus Roman Trekel, baritone
Aeneas Jon Villars, tenor
Ascanius Nancy Pifer, soprano
Hecuba Stacy Eckert, mezzo-soprano
Helenus James Cornelison, tenor
Panthus and A Soldier Timothy J. Quistorff, baritone
Priam, Spirit of Hector, and Greek Captain Andrew Funk, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

April 4, 5, and 6, 2002, Orchestra Hall
STRAVINSKY Fireworks, Op. 4
STRAVINSKY Circus Polka
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Nikolaj Znaider, violin
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

April 11, 12, and 13, 2002, Orchestra Hall
BERLIOZ The Trojans, Op. 29, Part 2: The Trojans at Carthage
Dido Nadja Michael, mezzo-soprano
Anna Nancy Maultsby, mezzo-soprano
Ascanius Meredith Barber, soprano
Spirit of Cassandra Stacy Eckert, mezzo-soprano
Aeneas Jon Villars, tenor
Iopas Nicholas Phan, tenor
Hylas Michael Sommese, tenor
Mercury and Spirit of Chorebus Michael Brauer, baritone
First Sentinel and Spirit of Hector Timothy J. Quistorff, baritone
Second Sentinel and Sprit of Priam Terry Cook, bass
Narbal Stephen Milling, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

February 24, 2006, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Happy, happy birthday!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins our friends at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in mourning the passing of beloved Chicago actor John Mahoney. He died in Chicago on February 4, at the age of 77.

John Mahoney in rehearsal at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008 (Chris Walker photo for the Chicago Tribune)

John Mahoney appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on three occasions, once at the Ravinia Festival and twice in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

July 14, 2001 (Ravinia Festival)
MENDELSSOHN A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
John de Lancie, Narrator/Puck and director
John Mahoney, Bottom
Janet Zarish, Titania
Timothy Gregory, Oberon
Stacey Tappan, soprano
Lauren McNeese, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma set the stage. “It was a dream of a midsummer’s night at the Ravinia Festival Saturday, the kind of warm, clear evening just made for picnicking and listening to music outdoors. The music offered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Davis provided a perfect match. After intermission, the pavilion light dimmed and sprites with glowing wands flitted through the night as the orchestra, singers and actors including John Mahoney . . . as the bumptious Bottom [he was] an endearing monster.”

April 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21, 2002 (Orchestra Hall)
STRAVINSKY The Soldier’s Tale
William Eddins, conductor
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
John Mahoney, Narrator
Paul Adelstein, Soldier
Hollis Resnik, Devil
Tina Cannon, dancer
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Craig Morris, trumpet
Jay Friedman, trombone
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Edward Atkatz, percussion
Peter Amster, director and choreographer
Rafael Viñoly, stage designer

“Seizing the opportunity to do something different, the CSO teamed with Steppenwolf Theatre to stage The Soldier’s Tale, which Stravinsky wrote in 1918 as a theater piece,” wrote Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “Mahoney was the dispassionate Narrator and Hollis Resnik a fashionable Devil in a generally lively staging by Peter Amster. Zukerman and six CSO musicians, conducted by William Eddins, perched on a tall, black platform centerstage, while Mahoney, Resnik, Paul Adelstein as the Soldier and dancer Tina Cannon spilled around the set of raised platforms and a few props devised by Rafael Viñoly. . . . Amster and his colleagues created a compelling drama. . . . Relaxed, making no judgments as he chronicled the Soldier’s victories and defeats, [Mahoney] was a sympathetic guide to Stravinsky’s morality tale.”

November 17, 18, 20, and 23, 2004 (Orchestra Hall)
BEETHOVEN Egmont
Mikko Franck, conductor
John Mahoney, narrator
Erin Wall, soprano

Again, Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times described the event. “Mahoney returned to Symphony Center Thursday night to narrate a rare performance of Beethoven’s complete incidental music to Goethe’s Egmont. Goethe’s play about a former loyalist fighting Spanish colonialism in the 16th century Netherlands was quickly forgotten, but Beethoven’s Egmont Overture has long been a concert hall staple. It was fascinating to hear it in its complete context, especially with the young Finnish conductor Mikko Franck honing in on the music’s noble bearing and expansive reach. . . . In the minimal staging devised by director Sheldon Patinkin, [Mahoney] managed to turn the obscure Egmont into a flesh-and-blood presence. With his straightforward delivery and Beethoven’s evocative music reinforcing each scene, he brought us glimpses of a brave soldier and king’s loyal administrator destroyed by political intrigue and despotism. The thirst for liberty is a recurring motif in Beethoven’s life and much of his music. Hearing the entire Egmont, the movie music of its day, was a reminder of how strongly Beethoven believed in that ideal.”

Numerous tribute have been posted online, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Timesand CNN, among others.

 

Revised program book cover for the November 28 and 29, 1963, subscription concerts

Revised program book cover for the November 28 and 29, 1963, subscription concerts

November 22, 1963, already was a memorable day for Mary Sauer (currently the Orchestra’s principal keyboard), as it was her and her husband Richard’s fifth wedding anniversary. While on her way to Orchestra Hall for the Friday afternoon matinee concert, she heard the news of the events in Dallas: President John F. Kennedy had been shot at 12:30 p.m. CST while riding in a motorcade in Dealey Plaza. It was unconfirmed whether or not the president was still alive.

CSO flute and piccolo Walfrid Kujala recalled, “I remember emerging from the State Street subway around 1:00 p.m. on my way to Orchestra Hall and seeing a crowd hovering around a television display in the front window of a Palmer House store. That’s where I first learned about Kennedy’s assassination.” And CSO principal trombone Jay Friedman remembered, “I heard about it before I took the stage; it was announced on television earlier that day.”

The CSO matinee concert was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m., not even two hours after the president had been shot and shortly after Walter Cronkite had confirmed the news of Kennedy’s death at 1:38 p.m. Just before the concert began, an announcement was made from the stage (presumably by general manager Seymour Raven) and there was significant reaction of shock from the audience, including audible gasps, cries, and even screams.

Program page for November 21 and 22, 1963, announcing scheduled memorial for Fritz Reiner the following week

Program page for November 21 and 22, 1963, announcing scheduled memorial for Fritz Reiner the following week

Moments before, it had been decided to open the concert with the second movement—the funeral march—from Beethoven’s Third Symphony (Eroica) followed by the rest of the program as scheduled: Bach’s First Brandenburg Concerto, Henze’s Third Symphony, and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with Byron Janis, all led by Jean Martinon. Sauer recalls the emotion of the musicians as they took the stage: “The feeling was similar to when we were in Lucerne on September 11, 2001, deciding whether or not to continue with the concert. There was a tremendous sense of uncertainty, because the news was so fresh and still unfolding, and we did not know so many of the facts. But ultimately, needing to perform was the only answer. One of the beauties of music is you can immerse yourself in the performance and let the music be a retreat from the rest of the world. Performing allows you to escape from the stresses of life as well as being a powerful means of releasing and sharing of one’s emotions.”

According to newspaper accounts, a “self-imposed blackout on all regular [entertainment] programs and commercials on television since President Kennedy’s assassination last Friday was brought to a close last night with special memorial programs.” The Chicago Symphony Orchestra made its own contribution on Monday, November 25, taping a concert for broadcast at 4:00 p.m. on WGN-TV. The program was carried by ABC in the afternoon and rebroadcast (presumably only locally) later that evening at 10:15 p.m.

The television program contained works by Gluck, Bach, Beethoven, and Barber, all led by Martinon. The Bach was a repeat of the First Brandenburg Concerto from the previous week and the Barber was his Adagio for Strings. However, the other two works on the program remain unconfirmed, as no programs were printed and we do not have a copy of the broadcast in our collection. A logical choice for the Gluck might have been the Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice; but the Orchestra had just performed the Overture to Iphigénie en Aulide on November 14 and 15. Also, Martinon and the Orchestra had performed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on October 10 and 11 and the Seventh Symphony on November 14 and 15, so both interpretations would have been fresh.

Revised program page for November 28 and 29, 1963

Program page for November 28 and 29, 1963

Friedman also recalled being in a restaurant that day, along with principal trumpet Adolph “Bud” Herseth, principal tuba Arnold Jacobs, and fellow section trombone Robert Lambert, watching the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery on television. When the bugler played Taps, Friedman remembers Bud saying, “I wouldn’t want his job.” (That job was given to Army Sgt. Keith Clark.)

The subscription concert program for November 28 and 29, 1963—originally programmed by Jean Martinon months before and designated as a memorial to Fritz Reiner only days before—became a memorial for President John F. Kennedy. A new program cover was printed and the Reiner insert also was used.

Margaret Hillis had prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for both works; and the soloists in the Mozart were Adele Addison, Carol Smith, Walter Carringer, and William Warfield. According to Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune, “After the emotional exhaustion of these last black days, neither the austere beauty of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms nor the not-quite Mozart of the Requiem asked more of the listener than he had left to give. It was a quiet, beautifully played, wholly compassionate concert in Orchestra Hall.”

**********

A footnote: at virtually the same time on Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963, a nearly identical scenario was unfolding in Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts. The Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s Friday afternoon matinee began at 2:00 p.m. EST, and their concert already was in progress when orchestra management received word of the events in Dallas. Near the end of the first half of the program, music director Erich Leinsdorf was informed and the decision was made to play the second movement of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. Their librarians (including William Shisler, whose recollection of the event is here) quickly distributed the music and Leinsdorf made an announcement from the stage. The entire event was captured on tape by WGBH and the audio can be heard here.

Thanks to Bridget Carr, archivist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Images of the revised program pages can be found here, as part of the BSO’s Archives fantastic project to digitize their program book collection.

**********

A second footnote: to commemorate the anniversary, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform Stravinsky’s Elegy for J.F.K. on November 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2013. Kelley O’Connor will be the mezzo-soprano soloist; the work also features CSO clarinetists John Bruce Yeh, Gregory Smith, and J. Lawrie Bloom. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts.

____________________________________________________

During January and February 1987, Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra embarked on a domestic tour with concerts in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; Bartlesville, Oklahoma; San Francisco, Costa Mesa, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles, California; Tempe, Arizona; and Austin, Houston, and Dallas, Texas.

Following the Wednesday evening (January 28) concert in Bartlesville, there were two free days before the next concert—an afternoon matinee—on Saturday at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. On Thursday afternoon, the Orchestra flew safely from Tulsa to San Francisco.

However, the majority of the cargo (including instruments, music, and clothing), traveling by trucks, did not arrive as planned. One truck was delayed due to a snowstorm as well as a flat tire, and a second truck was stopped by “agricultural inspectors at the Arizona-California border . . . for a routine check only to discover that the drivers didn’t have their paperwork in order.”

Clockwise from left: Samuel Magad, Solti, John Sharp, and Charles Pikler perform onstage at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on January 31, 1987

On Saturday afternoon (January 31) in hopes that the cargo would eventually arrive, an impromptu concert was arranged, with members of the Orchestra (who had traveled with their instruments) and Maestro Solti—making his U.S. concert debut as a pianist—performing chamber music. The concert began at about 3:15 p.m. and continued for nearly three hours. The program was as follows:

MOZART Clarinet Quartet in E-flat Major (after K. 380)
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
Nisanne Graff, violin
Richard Ferrin, viola
John Sharp, cello

SCHUBERT Allegro moderato (first movement) from Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor, D. 821
Charles Pikler, viola
Mary Sauer, piano

MOZART Allegretto (third movement) from Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-flat Major, K. 452
Michael Henoch, oboe
Larry Combs, clarinet
Bruce Grainger, bassoon
Gail Williams, horn
Paul Hersh, piano

MOZART Rondo allegro (third movement) from Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478
Samuel Magad, violin
Charles Pikler, viola
John Sharp, cello
Sir Georg Solti, piano

By 6:00 p.m. the trucks still had not arrived. Borrowing instruments from the San Francisco Symphony, a local youth orchestra, and a violin shop, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took the stage in their street clothes, using music borrowed from the SFS’s music library. The original program was to include John Corigliano’s recently composed Clarinet Concerto (with Larry Combs as soloist). But since the only copies of the music for the concerto were still stranded on one of the cargo trucks, Mozart’s Haffner Symphony (no. 35) was performed instead.

The trucks finally arrived around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Solti and the Orchestra were able to rehearse as scheduled on Sunday afternoon and for the evening concert, Haydn’s Symphony no. 103 was replaced by the Corigliano concerto.

Several newspaper accounts documenting the incident are here and here.

Originally scheduled program for January 31, 1987

Originally scheduled program for February 1, 1987

____________________________________________________

During Sir Georg Solti’s tenure as music director, more than seventy musicians—many of whom are still members—joined the roster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:

David Babcock, horn 1969–1971
Edwin Barker, bass 1976–1977
John Bartholomew, viola 1980–
J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet and bass clarinet 1980–
Ella Braker, violin 1976–2003
Loren Brown, cello 1985–
Catherine Brubaker, viola 1989–
Li-Kuo Chang, viola 1988–
David Chickering, cello 1978–1986
Roger Cline, bass 1973–
Timothy Cobb, bass 1985–1986
Larry Combs, clarinet and E-flat clarinet 1974–2008
Alison Dalton, violin 1987–
Franklyn D’Antonio, violin 1981–1986
Patricia Dash, percussion 1986–
Joseph DiBello, bass 1976–
Louise Dixon, flute 1973–
Fox Fehling, violin 1979–
Jorja Fleezanis, violin 1975–1976
Barbara Fraser, violin 1975–1996
Daniel Gingrich, horn 1976–
Rachel Goldstein, violin 1989–
Rubén González, violin 1986–1996
Bruce Grainger, bassoon 1986–1996
Jerry Grossman, cello 1984–1986
Tom Hall, violin 1970–2006
Laura Hamilton, violin 1985–1986
Erik Harris, bass 1989–1993
Michael Henoch, oboe 1972–
Marilyn Herring, librarian 1982–1997
Russell Hershow, violin 1989–
Richard Hirschl, cello 1989–
Michael Hovnanian, bass 1989–
Thomas Howell, horn 1971–1991
Nisanne Howell, violin 1976–
Albert Igolnikov, violin 1979–
Mihaela Ionescu, violin 1987–
Jacques Israelievitch, violin 1972–1978
Timothy Kent, trumpet 1979–1996
Mark Kraemer, bass 1974–
Melanie Kupchynsky, violin 1989–
Lee Lane, viola 1971–2009–
Stephen Lester, bass 1978–
Kathryn Lukas, flute 1985–1986
Elizabeth Matesky, violin 1972–1973
Blair Milton, violin 1975–
Diane Mues, viola 1987–
Michael Mulcahy, trombone 1990–
Joyce Noh, violin 1979–
Bradley Opland, bass 1984–
Daniel Orbach, viola 1988–
Nancy Park, violin 1984–
Jonathan Pegis, cello 1986–
Paul Phillips, violin 1980–
Charles Pikler, violin and viola 1978–
Gene Pokorny, tuba 1989–
Max Raimi, viola 1984–
James Ross, percussion 1979–
David Sanders, cello 1974–
Ronald Satkiewicz, violin 1979–
Florence Schwartz, violin 1989–
Norman Schweikert, horn 1971–1997
John Sharp, cello 1986–
Sando Shia, violin 1989–
Philip Smith, trumpet 1975–1978
Gregory Smith, clarinet 1983–
Gary Stucka, cello 1986–
Robert Swan, viola 1972–2008
Susan Synnestvedt, violin 1986–
David Taylor, violin 1979–
Charles Vernon, trombone and bass trombone 1986–
George Vosburgh, trumpet 1979–1993
Jennie Wagner, volin 1974–
Gail Williams, horn 1978–1998
Thomas Wright, viola 1981–
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet and E-flat clarinet 1977–

CSO roster – September 1969

CSO roster – June 1991

the vault

Theodore Thomas

csoarchives twitter feed

chicagosymphony twitter feed

disclaimer

The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

visitors

  • 487,096 hits
%d bloggers like this: