You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘John von Rhein’ tag.

Ned Rorem in 1984 (Jack Mitchell photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article also appears here.

Herbert Blomstedt (Juergen M. Pietsch photo)

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to the legendary Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt, today celebrating his ninety-fifth!

“A first-rate conductor was in charge,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune, following Blomstedt’s debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in January 1988. “Blomstedt gives the impression of being a serious seeker of musical truth, a kind of Diogenes of the baton. In the process of communicating what he perceives as the composer’s intentions, he has stripped his music making of frills and fustian, showing you the clean, shining surface beneath. Every orchestra should have such a musician on the premises.”

Over the past thirty-five years, Maestro Blomstedt has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orchestra Hall on several occasions, as follows.

January 7, 8, 9, and 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Ivan Moravec, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

February 22, 23, 24, and 27, 1990
HADYN Symphony No. 86 in D Major
LADERMAN Cello Concerto (world premiere)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70

January 24, 25, 26, and 29, 1991
SIBELIUS The Swan of Tuonela from Four Legends of the Kalevala, Op. 22
Grover Schiltz, english horn
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Rubén González, violin
NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (Sinfonia espansiva)
Jane Green, soprano
William Diana, baritone

Herbert Blomstedt (Martin Lengemann photo)

March 5, 6, 7, and 11, 1998
MENDELSSOHN The Hebrides Overture, Op. 26
DUTILLEUX Tout un monde lointain . . .
Lynn Harrell, cello
DVORÁK Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

June 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2007
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Annalena Persson, soprano
Ingeborg Danz, contralto
Robert Künzli, tenor
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

March 1, 2, and 3, 2018
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (Eroica)

March 5, 6, and 7, 2020
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Bertrand Chamayou, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Herbert Blomstedt leads the CSO in Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony on March 10, 2022 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

March 10, 11, and 12, 2022
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453
Martin Helmchen, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, Blomstedt has appeared as conductor with visiting orchestras, as follows.

March 12, 1986
WAGNER Prelude to Lohengrin
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Claudio Arrau, piano
NIELSEN Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 (The Inextinguishable)
San Francisco Symphony

November 30, 1988
MOZART Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550
LIDHOLM Kontakion for Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
San Francisco Symphony

October 22, 2001
NIELSEN Violin Concerto, Op. 33
Nikolaj Znaider, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Happy, happy birthday!

Herbert Blomstedt appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on March 9, 11, and 12, 2023, leading an all-Dvořák program: the Cello Concerto with Andrei Ioniţă and the Eighth Symphony.

This article also appears here.

Donald Peck in 1994 (Jim Steere photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the passing of Donald Peck, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1957 until 1999 and principal flute for over forty years. He passed away earlier today, April 29, 2022. Peck was ninety-two.

Born on January 26, 1930, in Yakima, Washington, Donald Peck received his early musical training in Seattle, where he played in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. As a teenager, he performed with his first teacher, Frank Horsfall, in the Seattle Symphony. He was a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied with William Kincaid. Peck performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and spent three years in the U.S. Marine Band. He was principal flute of the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra for two years before Fritz Reiner invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1957 as assistant principal flute. The following year, Reiner promoted Peck to principal flute, a chair he would hold for over forty years until his retirement in 1999.

Peck first appeared as soloist with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in August 1959, in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and on subscription concerts in Orchestra Hall in November 1960, in Bach’s Second Orchestral Suite, both with Walter Hendl conducting. During his tenure, he appeared as soloist on more than 120 concerts directed by twenty-five conductors—including music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and on tour.

Donald Peck in 1966 (Dorothy Siegel Druzinsky photo)

On April 18, 1985, Solti led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Morton Gould’s Flute Concerto, commissioned for Peck. In a preview article in the Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein described his playing as, “Lustrous and penetrating, tender and lyrical, charming and sensual, its hues would put a chameleon to shame. It is one of the most distinctive voices in the orchestral choir, blending well with any ensemble even as it serves a key role within the woodwind section. . . . as principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck has carried out that role with a combination of technical skill and musical understanding that has earned him widespread admiration. Within the fraternity of the flute he is considered to be without peer. No less a judge than Julius Baker, the longtime principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic [and principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1951 until 1953], pronounces Peck ‘the greatest flutist I’ve ever heard.'”

Also for Peck, William Ferris wrote his Flute Sonata and Lee Hoiby dedicated his Pastorale Dances for Flute and Orchestra. He regularly performed as a guest artist with other orchestras, including appearances at the Pablo Casals Festival with concerts in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and in Carnegie Hall. In Australia, Peck recorded Mozart’s flute concertos for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and he regularly appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, the Victoria International Festival in Canada, the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, along with numerous other orchestras from coast to coast.

As principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck performed on over three hundred recordings under twenty-two conductors for twelve labels. In his retirement, he recorded works for flute and piano with Melody Lord for the Boston label. Peck also was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Peck served on the faculties of DePaul and Roosevelt universities, where he taught flute and woodwind ensemble. A frequent lecturer and guest teacher, he gave master classes at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music in New York, at the Rotterdam Conservatory in Holland, for the Osaka Flute Club in Japan, at the Sydney Flute Association in Australia, and at over thirty universities and music groups throughout the United States and Canada. For many years, Peck played a flute—fashioned in platinum-iridium—handmade for him by Powell Flutes of Boston.

In 1997, the National Flute Association honored Peck with a lifetime achievement award. Indiana University Press published Peck’s memoir, The Right Place, The Right Time! Tales of Chicago Symphony Days in 2007, and the Chicago Flute Club’s biennial international flute competition is named in his honor.

Near the end of his tenure as principal flute, Peck spoke again with von Rhein for the Chicago Tribune. “The flute has the potential for more color and brilliance [and] the woodwind section can be most exquisite, like glittering jewels. . . . I have been a very lucky person, having performed with wonderful musicians and done so much. What more could I want?”

Donald Peck warming up backstage, on tour with the CSO in the 1990s (Jim Steere photo)

Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date, and memorial gifts may be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This article also appears here.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the remarkable Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini!

Maurizio Pollini (© Mathias Bothor for Deutsche Grammophon)

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago for more than fifty years, Pollini has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in recital on numerous occasions, in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Milwaukee.

Following Pollini’s debut in Orchestra Hall in January 1971, Thomas Willis commented in the Chicago Tribune that he had “been literally pulled forward in my seat by [the] pianist’s bravura . . . last night when Maurizio Pollini charged the climactic repeated octaves in Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto. The speed and power of that single passage—no more than, say, fifteen seconds long—broke the piano’s sound barrier for me. Until I heard this virtuoso do it, I would never have believed that alternating octaves could be played so fast and so loud on any concert piano. . . . This one could be the star shaker.”

A complete list of Pollini’s appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to date is below.

July 5, 1969, Ravinia Festival
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

June 27, 1970, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

January 21, 22, and 23, 1971, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Claudio Abbado, conductor

February 21, 22, and 23, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Claudio Abbado, conductor

February 10 and 11, 1977, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979
Gramophone Award for Concerto

February 17, 18, and 20, 1977, Orchestra Hall
February 21, 1977, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979
Gramophone Award for Concerto

April 5, 6, and 7, 1979, Orchestra Hall
April 9, 1979, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor

March 19, 20, and 21, 1981, Orchestra Hall
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 3, 4, and 5, 1983, Orchestra Hall
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Claudio Abbado, conductor

March 31, April 1, 2, and 5, 1988, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Claudio Abbado, conductor

October 23 and 24, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 21, 2000, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 25, 26, and 27, 2013, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Riccardo Muti, conductor

For his February 1982 recital debut in Orchestra Hall, Pollini gave a program of works by Schubert and Chopin. “Nor could you hope to hear every note, every chord, every structural detail of [Chopin’s] B minor sonata rendered with more breathtaking accuracy or digital strength,” commented John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy was “a meeting of mind and music that illuminated the inner workings [and placed] everything in his technical and musical arsenal at the music’s disposal. . . . His view understood, as Schubert did, the eloquence that can reside in lyrical simplicity.”

Dates for Pollini’s numerous recitals in Orchestra Hall—given under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents—are below.

Maurizio Pollini (Erich Auerbach)

February 28, 1982
March 11, 1984
April 1, 1987
March 27, 1988
March 18, 1990
March 15, 1992
March 21, 1993
October 12, 1997
October 25, 1998
October 7, 2000
May 5, 2002
October 31, 2004
May 14, 2006
May 6, 2007
October 12, 2008
April 11, 2010
October 26, 2014
October 4, 2015
May 28, 2017
April 22, 2018

Happy, happy birthday!

Michael Morgan in 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the death of Michael Morgan, who died on August 20, 2021, in Oakland, California. Morgan served as assistant conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1986 until 1993. He was sixty-three.

“Michael Morgan was a very important part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” wrote Henry Fogel, who served as executive director and president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association from 1985 until 2003. “As an assistant conductor, he gave a number of important performances, and he was an extraordinarily valuable part of the CSO’s educational and community engagement programs. As one of the first African American conductors to achieve an important career, Michael was a true pioneer. His thirty-year tenure as music director of the Oakland Symphony is a testament to his skills as a musician and a leader. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing, which happened far too soon.”

In March 1986, Sir Georg Solti announced the appointment of Kenneth Jean as associate conductor and Michael Morgan as assistant conductor, beginning with the 1986–87 season: “I think we have found two young men with both musical and personal credentials that will be a great asset to the Orchestra in its important community programs.”

Less than a week after the announcement was made, Morgan joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—along with Solti and guest conductor Daniel Barenboimon tour to Asia. He made his podium debut with the Civic Orchestra on April 10, 1987, leading Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Michi Sugiura, Mozart’s Symphony no. 36, and Ravel’s La valse, and the following month, he made his debut conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a series of concerts for children.

Michael Morgan leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto with Robert Klug as soloist, during the Illinois Young Performers Competition on May 2, 1989 (Jim Steere photo)

In late May 1987, Solti suffered a knee injury, causing him to cancel concerts in Chicago. Morgan was called upon to make an unexpected subscription concert debut on May 26, conducting two “of the most formidable works in the symphonic repertory, Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, without benefit of rehearsal,” according to John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “The conductor was obviously well prepared. He kept his wits about him. He maintained a clear, steady beat. . . . This great ensemble was willing to provide the same, highly disciplined level of performance that it would produce for Solti or any famous guest conductor.”

Morgan continued to be a frequent presence on the podium, regularly leading subscription concerts, run-outs to Christ Universal Temple, youth and high school concerts, and the Illinois Young Performers Competition. In November 1992, he led a concert version of Anthony Davis’s X, The Life and Times of Malcom X.

When his and Jean’s appointments were first announced, Morgan commented, “I consider the members of the CSO to be our primary teachers. Because it’s highly unlikely either of us is going to say anything to them that they haven’t heard before. So, it’s wonderful when they come to us and share their experiences with so many of the world’s great conductors. It helps you feel a part of the family.”

Numerous tributes have been posted, including the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Mercury News, among others.

This article also appears here.

On July 25, 2021, we celebrate the centennial of Adolph “Bud” Herseth, who served the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for fifty-six years as principal trumpet (1948–2001) and principal trumpet emeritus (2001–2004).

Adolph “Bud” Herseth served the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as principal trumpet from 1948 until 2001 and principal trumpet emeritus from 2001 until 2004 (Jim Steere photo)

Born on July 25, 1921, in Lake Park, Minnesota, Herseth attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He originally planned to become a teacher but gravitated to performance as a career while in the armed forces. During World War II, Herseth served as a bandsman at the pre-flight school in Iowa and at the U.S. Navy School of Music. He ended his military service with the Commander of the Philippine Sea Frontier in the South Pacific.

In early 1948 while studying for his master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Herseth was appointed by Music Director Artur Rodzinski to the post of principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He never performed with Rodzinski (whose music directorship ended in April 1948) but would go on to serve under five CSO music directors: Rafael KubelíkFritz ReinerJean MartinonSir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim. Herseth made countless solo appearances and recorded extensively with the Orchestra, including seven recordings of Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (under Kubelík, Reiner, Seiji OzawaCarlo Maria Giulini, Solti (twice), and Neeme Järvi).

Constantly devoted to the development of the next generation of symphony orchestra musicians, Herseth regularly gave seminars, coaching sessions and master classes in Chicago and throughout Europe and worked with the European Community Youth Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Workshop for Young Musicians and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Herseth held honorary doctor of music degrees from DePaul University, Luther College, the New England Conservatory of Music, Rosary College, and Valparaiso University. He received the Living Art of Music Symphonic Musician Award in 1994, was named Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America in 1995 and was an honorary member of the Royal Danish Guild of Trumpeters. In June 2001, Herseth received the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton Award, marking the first time in the League’s history that the award was bestowed on an orchestral player, and he also was awarded an honorary membership from London’s Royal Academy of Music at its commencement exercises. He was accorded a singular honor in 1988, when the principal trumpet chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which he continued to occupy until 2001, was named after him.

On June 7, 1998, Herseth’s friends—including Doc Severinsen, Daniel Barenboim, Arnold Jacobs, Frank Crisafulli, Arturo Sandoval, and numerous brass players from around the world—appeared in a tribute performance at Orchestra Hall to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary with the CSO. On January 27, 2000, the CSOA’s Women’s Association recognized Herseth for his “one season plus five decades” as the CSO’s principal trumpet.

After the Ravinia Festival season in the summer of 2001, Herseth relinquished the principal trumpet chair and became principal trumpet emeritus. On February 21, 2004, he retired from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra after fifty-six years and received the Theodore Thomas Medallion for Distinguished Service. Following retirement, Herseth was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Herseth was interviewed by John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune in April 2001, shortly after the announcement that he would cede the principal trumpet chair. He said, “for years I’ve been telling people I am lucky to get here, fortunate to still be here and to have had all these marvelous experiences.” And when asked how he would like posterity to remember him, Herseth replied, “as a fairly decent guy who gave it his best every time he had the chance.”

Adolph Herseth died at home in Oak Park, Illinois, on April 13, 2013, at the age of ninety-one. He was surrounded by his family, including Avis, his beloved wife of nearly seventy years.

This article also appears here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing a very happy (and slightly belated) birthday to legendary Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel, who celebrated his ninetieth on January 5, 2021! A regular and favorite performer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly forty years, he has appeared with the ensemble in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Carnegie Hall.

Alfred Brendel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland in August 2003 (Shutterstock photo)

On Sunday, March 9, 2008, Brendel “sat down at the Steinway to play his final Chicago concert. At the end of the year, he will retire from the concert stage, closing the book on a distinguished sixty-year career,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “And what a concert it was. I’ve attended many of the nearly three dozen recitals the pianist has given in the city since his downtown debut . . . and can honestly say I’ve never heard him play better.”

A complete list of his performances is below.

July 29, 1971, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
István Kertész, conductor

December 30, 1970, January 1 and 2, 1971, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459
Aldo Ceccato, conductor

March 9, 10, and 11, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Dean Dixon, conductor

August 17, 1972, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Uri Segal, conductor

April 5, 6, and 7, 1973, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Sergiu Comissiona, conductor

August 8, 1973, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Lawrence Foster, conductor

August 10, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Lawrence Foster, conductor

May 9, 10, and 11, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 19, 1974, Ravinia Festival
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
James Levine, conductor

July 24, 1974, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Kazimierz Kord, conductor

July 3, 1975, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

Alfred Brendel (Alecio de Andrade photo)

July 14, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

July 17, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

April 27, 28, and 29, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 8 and 10, 1978, Carnegie Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 13, 1979, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

July 15, 1979, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

May 13, 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 14, 15, and 16, 1981, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat Major, K. 271
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 18, 1981, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat Major, K. 271
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

June 27, 1982, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
James Levine, conductor

June 15 and 16, 1983, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Major, Op. 19
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
James Levine, conductor

June 17 and 18, 1983, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor
The June 1983 performances were recorded live in Orchestra Hall. For Philips, Volker Straus was the producer and engineer.

July 13, 1986
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
James Levine, conductor

July 18, 1986
HAYDN Piano Concerto in D Major, H.XVIII, No. 11
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Raymond Leppard, conductor

November 21, 22, and 23, 1991, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Tsung Yeh, conductor

April 11, 13, and 16, 1996, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 3, 4, and 5, 1997, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 10 and 11, 2003, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Roberto Abbado, conductor

February 23 and 25, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 8 and 10, 2007
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453
Roberto Abbado, conductor

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

March 15, 1970*
BEETHOVEN Bagatelles, Op. 126
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op.106 (Hammerklavier)

Alfred Brendel (Steve J. Sherman photo)

February 7, 1971*
MOZART Nine Variations in D Major on a Minuet by J. P. Duport, K. 573
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 17
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 664

April 2, 1972*
HAYDN Sonata in C Major
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
SCHOENBERG Six Little Pieces, Op. 19
LISZT Disaster
LISZT Bagatelle without Tonality
LISZT The Mournful Gondola
LISZT Saint Francis de Paul Marching on the Waves
LISZT Mephisto Waltz

March 11, 1973*
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, Op. 42
LISZT Années de Pèlerinage: Prèmiere année–Suisse

March 31, 1974*
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

March 16, 1975
SCHUBERT Moments Musicaux, D. 780, Nos. 1-6
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (Wanderer)
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3
MOZART Adagio in B Minor, K. 540
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 331

May 10, 1976*
BACH Fantasy-Prelude in A Minor, BWV 922
BACH Italian Concerto, BWV 971
LISZT Grand Variations on Bach’s Weinen Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
LISZT Prelude and Fugue on BACH
BEETHOVEN Six Variations on an Original Theme in F Major, Op. 34
BEETHOVEN 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO 80
BEETHOVEN Seven Variations in F Major on Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen by Peter Winter, WoO 75

May 12, 1977*
BEETHOVEN Six Bagatellies, Op. 126
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

March 25, 1979*
LISZT Three selections from Années de Pèlerinage: Troisième année–Suisse
LISZT Valse oubliée No. 1
LISZT Czardas macabre
SCHOENBERG Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19
BUSONI Toccata
BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel in B-flat Major, Op. 24

February 3, 1980
SCHUMANN Kinderszenen, Op. 15
SCHUMANN Carnaval, Op. 9
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16

February 7, 1982*
MOZART in A Minor, K. 310
SCHUMANN Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17
BERG Sonata, Op. 1
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Two Legendes

May 13, 1984*
BEETHOVEN Six Bagatelles, Op. 126
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, D. 784
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (Unfinished)
BEETHOVEN Variations and Fugue in E-flat Major, Op. 35 (Eroica)

Alfred Brendel (Suseech Bayat photo)

May 5, 1985
HAYDN Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII/6
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI/52
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (Wanderer)
MUSSORGSKY Pictures from an Exhibition

April 27, 1986
HAYDN Fantasia in C Major, Hob. XVII/4
HAYDN Sonata in E Minor, Hob. XVI/34
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
LISZT Années de Pèlerinage: Prèmiere année–Suisse

May 8, 1988
SCHUBERT Three Pieces, D. 946
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935

May 22, 1988
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Minor, D. 958
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Major, D. 959
SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

April 21, 1991
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor, Hob. XVI/20
SCHUMANN Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13
BEETHOVEN Six Variations in F Major, Op. 34
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

December 1, 1991
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI: 49
HAYDN Andante with Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVI:6
HAYDN Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI:50
LISZT Funérailles from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
LISZT Sonata in B Minor

May 23, 1993
BEETHOVEN Sonata in A-flat Major, Op. 26
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F Major, Op. 54
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (Waldstein)

April 29, 1994
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3
BEETHOVEN Sonata in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)

April 23, 1995
BEETHOVEN Sonata in G Major, Op. 79
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F-sharp Major, Op. 78
BEETHOVEN Sonata in D Major, Op. 28 (Pastorale)
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E Minor, Op. 90
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 7

April 8, 1996
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

April 8, 1997
BUSONI Elegy No. 3: My soul longs and hopes for you (Chorale Prelude)
LISZT Canzonetta by Salvator Rosa
LISZT The Thinker
LISZT At the Lake of Wallenstadt
LISZT Dark Clouds
LISZT At the Cypresses of the Villa d’Este, No. 1
LISZT Eclogue
LISZT Sonnet No. 104 by Petrarch
BUSONI Elegy No. 6: A Vision (Nocturne)
SCHUMANN Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17
HAYDN Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI:40

April 5, 1998
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 396
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894 (Fantasy)
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 570
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI: 52

April 4, 1999
HAYDN Sonata in E Minor, Hob. XVI:34
SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
SCHUMANN Kinderszenen, Op. 15
MOZART Rondo in A Minor, K. 511
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 475

April 6, 1999
MOZART Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478
MOZART Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493
MOZART Piano Quintet in A Major, K. 414a
Katharine Gowers, violin
Lucy Jeal, violin
Douglas Paterson, viola
Adrian Brendel, cello

April 30, 2000
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:49
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333
SCHUBERT Sonata in A Minor, D. 845

April 15, 2001
HAYDN Sonata in G Minor, Hob. XVI:44
MOZART Fantasy in D Minor, K. 397
MOZART Sonata in A Minor, K. 310
BEETHOVEN Thirty-Three Variations in C Major on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

April 28, 2002
MOZART Sonata in D Major, K. 311
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Minor, D. 958
BRAHMS Four Ballades, Op. 10
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 533 (with Rondo, K. 494)

April 13, 2003
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 33, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 119, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 2
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 4
BEETHOVEN Bagatelle, Op. 33, No. 4
BEETHOVEN Rondo in C Major, Op. 51, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Rondo in G Major, Op. 51, No. 2
MOZART Sonata in A Major, K. 331
SCHUBERT Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (Reliquie)
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 22

April 18, 2004
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 396
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 281
MOZART Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282
SCHUBERT Three Piano Pieces, D. 946
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109

March 27, 2005
MOZART Nine Variations in D Major on a Minuet by J. P. Duport, K. 573
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16
SCHUBERT No. 1 in C Major: Moderato from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
SCHUBERT No. 2 in A-flat Major: Andantino from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
SCHUBERT No. 4 in C-sharp Minor: Moderato from Moments Musicaux, D. 780
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28 (Pastorale)

February 5, 2006
HAYDN Sonata in D Major, Hob. XVI: 42
SCHUBERT Sonata in G Major, D. 894
MOZART Fantasy in C Minor, K. 475
MOZART Rondo in A Minor, K. 511
HAYDN Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI: 50

March 4, 2007
HAYDN Sonata in C Minor, H. XVI:20
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
SCHUBERT Impromptu No. 1 in F Minor, D. 935
SCHUBERT Impromptu No. 3 in B-flat Major, D. 935
MOZART Sonata in C Minor, K. 457

March 9, 2008
HAYDN Variations in F Minor, Hob. SVII/6
MOZART Sonata in F Major, K. 533/K. 494
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1 (Quasi una fantasia)
SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

*No program on file; repertoire culled from advertisements and reviews.

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the remarkable Estonian composer Arvo Pärt!

Arvo Pärt (Press Service photo)

Following the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances of the composer’s Third Symphony in 1989, John von Rhein wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “We must be grateful to Neeme Järvi [to whom the work was dedicated] for introducing us to this fascinating and utterly individual composer, and for doing so in a performance of such power, accuracy, and dedication. . . . [Pärt’s] spare ritualistic austerity (deeply rooted in medieval modes and harmonies) [is] strongly beholden to the cadences of Machaut and other fourteenth and fifteenth-century music [and] speaks with a communicative fervor.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has performed several works by Pärt in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and at Wheaton College. A complete list of performances is below.

November 22, 24, 25, and 28, 1989, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Symphony No. 3
Neeme Järvi, conductor

July 18, 1992, Ravinia Festival
PÄRT Symphony No. 2
James Conlon, conductor

April 15, 16, 17, 18, and 21, 1998, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Donald Runnicles, conductor

May 6, 7, and 8, 2004, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Fratres
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Yuan-Qing Yu, violin

January 22, 23, and 24, 2009, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Symphony No. 4 (Los Angeles)
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

February 11, 12, 13, and 16, 2016, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Orient & Occident
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor

April 20, 22, and 23, 2017, Orchestra Hall
April 21, 2017, Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College
PÄRT Fratres
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Robert Chen, violin

Happy, happy birthday!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, who died on Sunday at his home in Krakow following a long illness. He was eighty-six.

Krzysztof Penderecki (Adam Kumiszcza photo)

“The death of Krzysztof Penderecki is a great loss for the music world,” wrote Riccardo Muti today from his home in Ravenna. “In the late 1970s with the Philharmonia Orchestra, I conducted his Symphony no. 1—a piece of extreme modernity—in London and in other European cities. In 2007, I was fortunate to meet him in person in Ravenna while he was conducting the Luigi Cherubini Orchestra in a concert dedicated entirely to his music. Later in 2016, he returned to conduct the ensemble at the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy, where he led some of his compositions and Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Penderecki was a great musician—open to the contemporary music world—who was passionate to work with the young generation. He was an extraordinary human being and a person of great kindness. His passing is a great mourning to the music world.”

Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s most recent performances of the composer’s music—The Awakening of Jacob—to open the 127th season of subscription concerts on September 23 and 26, 2017.

In 2000, the composer himself was in Chicago to lead the Orchestra and Chorus in performances of his Seven Gates of Jerusalem, a work commissioned for the 3,000th anniversary of Jerusalem and premiered there in 1997. In a preview article in the Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein wrote, that the forces required to perform the work “are much larger than in any of Penderecki’s previous works. The symphony calls for five vocal soloists and a speaker, three choruses, a large onstage orchestra (including four percussion groups) and a smaller ensemble of woodwinds and brass stationed at the rear of the hall.” The complete program was as follows:

March 16, 17, and 18, 2000
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D 485
PENDERECKI Seven Gates of Jerusalem
Krzysztof Penderecki, conductor
Bozena Harasimowicz-Haas, soprano
Izabella Klosíinska, soprano
Jadwiga Rappé, alto
Jorma Silvasti, tenor
Romauld Tesarowicz, bass
Alberto Mizrahi, speaker
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

“An air of hammering declamation permeated Seven Gates,” wrote Wynne Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “The chorus announced its presence with stern, massed song in the work’s opening bars. Several of the movements had a steady, pacing rhythm that moved forward with the implacable force of an invading army. There were a few moments of respite. . . . The fifth movement, the exultant ‘Laude, Ierusalem Dominum (Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem)’ came closest to breaking away from big, somber gestures. Rhythms were more animated, percussion and individual instruments galloped and surged with nervous energy.”

The Orchestra performed music by Penderecki on a number of other occasions, as follows (all performances in Orchestra Hall):

Krzysztof Penderecki (Bruno Fidrych photo)

December 30, 1970; January 1 and 2, 1971
PENDERECKI Polymorphia
Aldo Ceccato, conductor

December 6 and 7, 1973
PENDERECKI Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra
Michael Gielen, conductor
Wanda Wilkomirska, violin

November 21, 22, and 23, 2002
PENDERECKI Symphony No. 4
Lorin Maazel, conductor

March 17, 19, and 22, 2011
PENDERECKI Concerto grosso for Three Cellos and Orchestra
Charles Dutoit, conductor
Katinka Kleijn, cello
Kenneth Olsen, cello
John Sharp, cello

Numerous tributes have been posted online at the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Guardian, among several others.

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

  • 480,508 hits
%d bloggers like this: