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Duain Wolfe in 2013 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to Duain Wolfe, Grammy Award–winning chorus director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus!

In 1994, ninth music director Daniel Barenboim appointed Wolfe to succeed Margaret Hillis, founder and first director of the Chorus. Since then, he has prepared the ensemble for over 150 programs for concerts in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Carnegie Hall, and Berlin’s Philharmonie. Wolfe’s activities have earned him an honorary doctorate and numerous awards, including the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.

Wolfe also has prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for numerous commercial recordings, and a complete list is below.

BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1994 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and produced by Karl-August Naegler, Rainer Maillard was the balance engineer, Stephan Flock and Hans-Rudolf Müller were the recording engineers, and Stephan Flock and Rainer Maillard were the editors.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sergej Aleksashkin, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in February 1995 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, John Dunkerley and Andy Groves were the recording engineers, and Nigel Gayler was the recoding editor.

ROUGET DE L’ISLE/Berlioz La Marseillaise
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
The Orchestra and Chorus were recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 1995; Domingo was later recorded at the Hochschule für Musik Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. For Teldec, the album was executive produced by Nikolaus Deckenbrock and produced by Martin Fouqué, Ulrich Ruscher was the recording engineer, Jens Schünemann and Paul Nedel were assistant engineers, and Andreas Florcak and Stefan Witzel were digital editors.

WAGNER Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Eva Karita Mattila, soprano
Magdalene Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano
Walther von Stolzing Ben Heppner, tenor
David Herbert Lippert, tenor
Hans Sachs José van Dam, bass-baritone
Veit Pogner René Pape, bass
Sixtus Beckmesser Alan Opie, baritone
Kunz Vogelgesang Roberto Saccà, tenor
Konrad Nachtigall Gary Martin, baritone
Fritz Kothner Albert Dohmen, bass-baritone
Balthasar Zorn John Horton Murray, tenor
Ulrich Eisslinger Richard Byrne, baritone
Augustin Moser Steven Tharp, tenor
Hermann Ortel Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
Hans Schwarz Stephen Morscheck, bass-baritone
Hans Foltz, Ein Nachtwächter Kelly Anderson, baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 1995 for London Records. The recording was produced by Michael Woolcock; James Lock, John Pellowe, and Neil Hutchinson were the balance engineers; and Krzysztof Jarosz was the location engineer. The recording won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

SCRIABIN Prometheus, Op. 60
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Anatol Ugorski, piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in December 1996 for Deutsche Grammophon. The album was executive produced by Roger Wright and Ewald Markl and produced by Karl-August Naegler; Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer; Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers; and Karl-August Naegler and Ulrich Vette were the editors.

STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1997 for London Records. The album was produced by Michael Woolcock, and James Lock and Philip Siney were the balance engineers. Duncan Mitchell was the location engineer, and Sally Drew and Nigel Gayler were the recording editors.

American Spirit
KELLEY/Davis Home on the Range
STEFFE/Davis Battle Hymn of the Republic
WARD/Davis America the Beautiful
Chip Davis, conductor
Mannheim Steamroller Symphony
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded at Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Old Town, Chicago in March 2003 for American Gramaphone. The album was produced by Chip Davis; Chris Sabold, Mike Konopka, and Dick Lewsey were the engineers; and Mat Lejeune, Brian Pinke, Mike Scasiwicz, Darren Styles were the assistant engineers.

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 2006 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MENOTTI Amahl and the Night Visitors
Alastair Willis, conductor
Amahl Ike Hawkersmith, treble
Mother Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
King Kaspar Dean Anthony, tenor
King Melchior Todd Thomas, baritone
King Balthazar Kevin Short, bass-baritone
Page to the Kings Bart LeFan, baritone
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

RAVEL L’enfant et les sortilèges
Alastair Willis, conductor
L’enfant Julie Boulianne, mezzo-soprano
Maman, La libellule, L’écureuil Geneviève Després, mezzo-soprano
La tasse chinoise, Un pâtre, La chatte Kirsten Gunlogson, mezzo-soprano
La théière, Le petit viellard, La rainette Philippe Castagner, tenor
L’horloge comtoise, Le chat Ian Greenlaw, baritone
Le fauteuil, Un arbre Kevin Short, bass-baritone
La princesse, La chauve-souris Agathe Martel, soprano
Le feu, Le rossignol Cassandre Prévost, soprano
La bergère, Une pastourelle, La chouette Julie Cox, soprano
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus
George Mabry, director
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chattanooga Boys Choir
Vincent Oakes, director
Recorded in Laura Turner Concert Hall, Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2006 for Naxos. The album was produced by Blanton Alspaugh, and John Hill and Mark Donahue were the engineers.

POULENC Gloria
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe

Bernard Haitink, conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2007 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Miah Persson, soprano
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 2008 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by James Mallinson, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer.

VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January 2009 for CSO Resound. The album was produced by Christopher Alder, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and David Frost and Tom Lazarus were the mixing engineers.
The recording received 2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.

BERLIOZ Lélio ou le retour à la vie
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Gérard Depardieu, narrator
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Kyle Ketelsen, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2010 for CSO Resound. The album was produced and mixed by David Frost, Christopher Willis was the recording engineer, and Silas Brown was the mixing and mastering engineer.

VERDI Otello
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Otello Aleksandrs Antonenko, tenor
Desdemona Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano
Iago Carlo Guelfi, baritone
Emilia Barbara di Castri, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Juan Francisco Gatell, tenor
Roderigo Michael Spyres, tenor
Montano Paolo Battaglia, bass
Lodovico Eric Owens, bass-baritone
A Herald David Govertsen, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in April 2011 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Tim Martyn, Silas Brown, and Richard King were the mixing engineers.

SCHOENBERG Kol Nidre, Op. 39
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alberto Mizrahi, narrator
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 2012 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Christopher Willis was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

WILLIAMS Lincoln (original motion picture soundtrack)
John Williams, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in May 2012 for Sony. The recording was produced by John Williams, Ramiro Belgardt was the music editor, Shawn Murphy was the recording and mixing engineer, Robert Wolff was the recording editor, Brad Cobb was the technical engineer, and Patricia Sullivan Fourstar was the mastering engineer.

Riccardo Muti conducts Italian Masterworks
VERDI Gli arredi festivi from Nabucco
VERDI Patria oppressa! from Macbeth
BOITO Prologue to Mefistofele
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Riccardo Zanellato, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 2017 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mixed by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alexey Tikhomirov, bass
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in September 2018 for CSO Resound. The album was produced, edited, and mastered by David Frost; Charlie Post was the recording engineer; and Silas Brown was the mastering engineer.
The recording received the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album–Classical.

Happy, happy birthday!

Duain Wolfe acknowledges the Chicago Symphony Chorus following a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe on April 5, 2018 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary soprano Jessye Norman, who died earlier today in New York. She was 74.

Jessye Norman (Royal Philharmonic Society photo)

A frequent visitor to Chicago—on concert, recital, and opera stages—Norman appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and narrator on many occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of her performances and recordings with the Orchestra is below.

March 21, 22, and 23, 1974, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri, Op. 50
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Birgit Finnilä, contralto
Ernst Haefliger, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Sarah Beatty, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 29, 30, and 31, 1975, Orchestra Hall
LA MONTAINE Songs of the Rose of Sharon, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

August 9, 1975, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
Edo de Waart, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Receiving bows following Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986

Receiving bows following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 7, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K. 505
Edward Gordon, piano
RAVEL Sheherazade
BERLIOZ The Death of Cleopatra
WAGNER Wesendonk-Lieder
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 9, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
James Levine, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Jessye Norman, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Kirk Stuart, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 8, 1979, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981. For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the executive producer, Werner Mayer was the recording producer, and Günther Breest was the balance engineer.

December 1, 2, and 3, 1983, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
David Rendall, tenor

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 (Solti 2)

September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on September 29 and 30, 1986. For London Records, Michael Haas was the producer, John Pellowe was the engineer, and Neil Hutchinson was tape editor. The recording won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 1, 1988, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Act 1 of Die Walküre
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass

July 5, 1992, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS  Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27, No. 1
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1
STRAUSS Die heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland, Op. 56, No. 6
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Boulez Bluebeard

December 2, 4, and 7, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Larry Russo, narrator
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 6 and 13, 1993. For Deutsche Grammophon, Roger Wright was the executive producer, Pål Christian Moe was the associate producer, Karl-August Naegler was the recording producer, Helmut Burk was the balance engineer, Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers, and Hans-Ulrich Bastin was the editor. Nicholas Simon was the narrator for the commercial release. The recording won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

June 22, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Villanelle, Le spectre de la rose Sur les lagunes, and L’ile inconnue from Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
RAVEL Sheherazade
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

James Conlon acknowledges Norman following her narration of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait at the Ravinia Festival on July 18, 2009 (Russell Jenkins photo)

June 21, 1997, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Vado, ma dove?, K. 583
MOZART Porgi amor from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
BIZET Habanera from Carmen
SAINT-SAËNS Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson and Delilah
STRAUSS Final Scene from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 18, 2009, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
James Conlon, conductor
Jessye Norman, narrator

Norman also also appeared in recital and as soloist in Orchestra Hall (under the auspices of Allied Arts and later Symphony Center Presents) on the following occasions:

Jessye Norman in Orchestra Hall on May 19, 2002 (Peter Thompson for the Chicago Tribune)

January 5, 1986
Phillip Moll, piano

October 20, 1986
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Berlin Philharmonic
James Levine, conductor
Herbert von Karajan was originally scheduled to conduct Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Ein Heldenleben, but he canceled a week before the performance due to illness. The revised program was Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Strauss’s song cycle, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

October 23, 1988
James Levine, piano

March 20, 1992
Phillip Moll, piano

April 2, 1995
Ann Schein, piano

June 3, 1998
Ken Noda, piano

May 19, 2002
Mark Markham, piano

Numerous tributes have been posted on CNN, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, and NPR, among many others.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony were given on April 6 and 7, 1950, in Orchestra Hall under the baton of guest conductor George Szell. Since then, the work has been led by music directors Rafael Kubelík, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; principal guest conductors Carlo Maria Giulini and Pierre Boulez; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and James Conlon; along with guest conductors Sir John Barbirolli, Lawrence Foster, Michiyoshi Inoue, Hans Rosbaud, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Orchestra has recorded the work on three notable occasions, as follows.

Carlo Maria Giulini, the Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor, led Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in December 1971 and March 1975 before returning in April 1976 to perform and record the work. Following the first concert of that residency, Karen Monson in the Chicago Daily News wrote that “each time the aristocratic maestro meets the transcendent symphony, the relationship becomes more and more special, Giulini and the Orchestra have delved into the deepest secrets of this music, and Thursday evening they delivered a performance so rich and complete . . .”

In the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Willis called the performance “one of Giulini’s great nights in Orchestra Hall.” Recording sessions were scheduled for the following week, and “by the time the tape is rolling, this could be the most heartfelt and compelling recorded version of Mahler’s grief-stricken penultimate symphony. . . . The Chicago Symphony players will take any risks for Giulini. If he wishes them to play softer than soft, applying bow to string, or breath to mouthpiece or reed, they proceed to just this side of bobble or discomfiting silence. . . . No other guest has such control over orchestral color and emotional variation.”

Deutsche Grammophon was on hand on April 5 and 6, 1976, to record the symphony in Medinah Temple. Günther Breest was the executive producer and Klaus Scheibe the recording engineer. The release won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Classical Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti first led the Orchestra in Mahler’s symphony at Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall in April 1981 before taking it on the road to Lucerne, Paris, Amsterdam, and London later that year. Back in Chicago, Solti led a concert performance (benefiting the musicians’ pension fund) on April 28, 1982, and recorded the symphony on May 2 and 4 in Orchestra Hall.

Reviewing in Gramophone magazine, Richard Osborne noted: “When Solti conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in London in the autumn of 1981 the critic of The Financial Times observed: ‘Solti obviously knew how this music should gobut not why.’ Such a reading would be an evident act of self-parody, for it is to this very theme—the modern world’s nightmarish preoccupation with sensation, spiraling, self-referring and impossible to assuage—that Mahler so fearlessly addresses himself in the symphony’s third movement, the Rondo Burleske. It’s clear, though, from the present recording, made in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in May 1982, that Solti’s sense of the music is a good deal more rooted than it appeared to be amid the unsettling razzmatazz of an end-of-tour London performance.

“The new performance has a measure of repose about it as well as much splendour. The second movement is robust and resilient as Mahler directs. There is defiance and obstinacy in the third movement, an awful power which illuminates the music rather than the orchestra’s known expertise.”

James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock was the engineer for London Records. The recording won 1983 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Recording, Best Engineered Recording—Classical, and Best Classical Album.

Soon after being named as the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Pierre Boulez was in Chicago to lead four performances of Mahler’s Ninth in November December 1995.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma wrote that Boulez led “one of classical music’s most profound meditations on relentless death and tumultuous life” as a “study in musical clarity, elegant balances, and proportion. . . . Many conductors play up the contrasts, creating dramatic mood shifts. Boulez and the CSO were after something more subtle.” John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune added that Boulez “[filtered] the work through his own modernist sensibility. Granted, there are ambiguities and uncertainties in this symphony that resist so rational an approach. But there are also levels of purely musical meaning few other conductors have uncovered. The otherworldly stillnesses, the demonic humor, the desolate nostalgia, the strange lapses into folkish banality registered that much more strongly because the hand organizing them was so calm and precise. . . . Let us hope the studio sessions capture in full the splendor of the live performances.”

For Deutsche Grammophon, the work was recorded at Medinah Temple on December 2 and 4, 1995. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler recording producer and editor, Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were recording engineers. The release won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony no. 9 on May 17, 18, 19, and 22, 2018.

Under the leadership of chorus directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won ten Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Choral Performance.*

Recordings have been led by music directors Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, and Ravinia Festival music director James Levine on RCA, London, Deutsche Grammophon, and CSO Resound.

1977 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer

1978 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977, for London
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes, balance engineers

1979 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot, balance engineers

1982 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
James Lock and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1983 – Best Choral Performance
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano
Norma Burrowes, soprano
Rudiger Wohlers, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Frank Miller, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 9, 10, and 11, 1981, for London
Paul Myers, recording producer
James Lock and John Dunkerley, balance engineers

1984 – Best Choral Performance
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
James Levine, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 5 and 6, 1983, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer
John Newton and Thomas MacCluskey, engineers

1986 – Best Choral Performance
ORFF Carmina burana
James Levine, conductor
June Anderson, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon
Steven Paul, producer
Cord Garben, recording supervisor
Klaus Scheibe, recording engineer
Jürgen Bulgrin, editing

1991 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Felicity Lott, soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
William Shimmell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Richard Webster, organ
John Sharp, cello
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, for London
Michael Haas, recording producer
Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1993 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BARTÓK Cantata profana
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon
Alison Ames, executive producer
Karl-August Naegler, recording producer
Rainer Maillard, balance engineer
Oliver Rosalla, editing

2010 – Best Choral Performance
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, for CSO Resound
Christopher Alder, producer
Christopher Willis, recording engineer
David Frost and Tom Lazarus, mixing
Silas Brown and David Frost, stereo mastering

*The name of the category has changed slightly over the years; see here for details.

Title page for the first printed edition of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Guest conductor George Szell led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on December 2 and 3, 1948, almost exactly four years following the work’s premiere on December 1, 1944, with Serge Koussevitzky leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the Chicago Daily News, Clarence Joseph Bulliet called the work, “violent and awesome in its contrasts, sometimes as stormy as the most sensational of modern music. Then it calmed down to rival in delicacy the classicism of Haydn and Beethoven between which it was programmed at Orchestra Hall Thursday night.” (Haydn’s Oxford Symphony opened the concert, followed by the Bartók and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, that featured the debut of Seymour Lipkin.) Felix Borowski, writing for the Chicago Sun, added, that Bartók’s Concerto was, “of more than ordinary worth . . . Modern, indeed it is, but there are ideas—often very beautiful ideas—in the course of it. The orchestration is rich and colorful, frequently with new and beguiling textures.”

Early in his tenure as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner first led the Orchestra in his friend and countryman’s work on October 13 and 15, 1955. “This wonderful score, a network of nerves spun and controlled by the most brilliant of nervous energies, was played as only great orchestras can play,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It is a superb work and a Reiner triumph.”

The following week, Reiner and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc on October 22; for RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton the recording engineer. In February 2016, Gramophone listed this release as one of the “finest recordings of Bartók’s music,” noting the “sheer fervour of Reiner’s direction . . . taut and agile . . . [his] precision and control is immediately apparent.”

The Orchestra has since recorded the work on five additional occasions, as follows:

During his year as principal conductor of the Ravinia Festival, Seiji Ozawa recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on June 30 and July 1, 1969, for AngelPeter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer. Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti conducted the Concerto for London on January 19 and 20, 1981, in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson was the producer and James Lock the balance engineer.

James Levine, Ravinia’s second music director, led sessions in Orchestra Hall on June 28, 1989, for Deutsche Grammophon. Steven Paul was executive producer, Christopher Alder the recording producer, and Gregor Zielinsky was balance engineer. During the 1990 tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Austria, Solti conducted the Orchestra in an all-Bartók program, video recorded at the Budapest Convention Centre on November 28, 1990, for London. Humphrey Burton directed the production, and Katya Krausova was producer, Eric Abraham the executive producer, and Michael Haas the audio producer.

Most recently, Pierre Boulez recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on November 30, 1992, for Deutsche Grammophon. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler the recording producer, Rainer Maillard the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Reinhild Schmidt were recording engineers. The release won 1994 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.

Guest conductor Rafael Payare makes his subscription concert debut leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on January 18 and 20, 2018.

Frederick Stock and the Theodore Thomas Orchestra (as we were then called) first introduced the music of Gustav Mahler to Chicago audiences on March 22 and 23, 1907, performing the composer’s Fifth Symphony. Reviews were, shall we say, mixed.

As written about here this past October, “Ugly symphony is well played: Thomas Orchestra shows director Mahler of Vienna writes bad music,” proclaimed the headline of Millar Ular’s review in the Examiner. He continued that rather than title the symphony “The Giant,” it might be better titled “The Octopus” due to its ugliness, “The Dachshund” due to its length, or “Chaos” due to its purported lack of form. A writer in the Chicago Journal agreed, calling the symphony a “long and tedious work,” and most of the public agreed, as “before it was done, fully half the audience had fled.”

Undaunted, Stock programmed Mahler’s First in November 1914, the Fourth in March 1916, and three performances of the massive Eighth—with just under one thousand performers onstage at the Auditorium Theatre—in April 1917.

Cover of one of two first edition Symphony no. 7 scores in the Rosenthal Archives collection

Detail from the cover of one of two first editions of Mahler’s Symphony no. 7 from the Rosenthal Archives collection.

According to Phillip Huscher’s program note, “Stock heard Mahler’s Seventh Symphony for the first time in Amsterdam in 1920. He got a copy of the score in Paris and programmed the work for the penultimate concert of the 1920–21 season in Chicago. Perhaps fearing that the Chicago public would not share his enthusiasm for the Seventh Symphony, Stock announced that he had cut out eleven minutes of music, paring the playing time down to one hour and four minutes.”

For April 15 & 16, 1921, Stock had programmed Smetana’s Overture to Libussa followed by the Mahler (the original program note is here); the second half of the program consisted of a single work, Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with American violinist Amy Neill.

The April 15 performance was the symphony’s first in the U.S., and the Chicago Evening Post reported that “the orchestra played with astonishing virtuosity. There was nothing Mahler could write which they could not play, as they demonstrated to full satisfaction. At the close of the symphony there was a great demonstration for Mr. Stock, in which he had all the players rise and join.”

Headline for Herman Devries review in the Sunday, April 17, 1921, Chicago American

Headline for Herman Devries’s review in the Sunday, April 17, 1921, Chicago American

And Herman Devries in the American reported: “We were prepared to hear something out of the ordinary, for nothing banal, commonplace, cheap, or artificial could emanate from a brain that produced the marvelous Symphony of a Thousand presented by Mr. Stock at the memorable Spring Festival in the Auditorium [in April 1917]. With the first bars of the orchestral score yesterday, one might have imitated Schubert’s famous phrase and said, ‘Hats off! A genius!’

“The entire symphony, which for due understanding and assimilation of its beauty and richness requires far more than a single hearing, is so evidently a work of supreme and dominating intelligence that it seems presumptuous, importunate, for me to attempt any criticism. Mahler’s name today is being mentioned as a sort of twentieth-century reflection of the Beethoven a century ago.

“His conception is of gigantic orchestral proportions. He knew the orchestra and played upon it as upon a mighty instrument. And this mighty vision, a vision too great, too immense for the mere span of human intellect, seems to crave reflection in his writing. . . . We devoutly hope for many more opportunities to hear this master work, for [it] demands absolute mental concentration, and one performance is simply a foretaste.”

Following that first performance, Frederick Stock, summing it up better than anyone, was reported as saying, “Mahler is one of the coming composers and the musical world is just beginning to understand him.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded Mahler’s Seventh Symphony on three occasions. Georg Solti led recording sessions on May 12, 13, and 14, 1971, at the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois. For London, David Harvey was the recording producer, and the balance engineers were Gordon Parry, Kenneth Wilkinson, and Peter van Biene. The release won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Orchestra from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

James Levine and the Orchestra recorded the symphony in Medinah Temple on July 14 and 15, 1980, for RCA. Thomas Z. Shepard and Jay David Saks were the producers, Paul Goodman the recording engineer, and Bruce Rothaar, Thomas Stockham, Sydney Davis, Dennis Mecham, and Richard Feldman were the engineers. The release won 1982 Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Classical Engineered Recording.

On January 30, 31, February 1, and 4, 1984, Claudio Abbado led the Orchestra in sessions for Mahler’s Seventh Symphony in Orchestra Hall. For Deutsche Grammophon, Rainer Brock was the producer and recording supervisor and Karl-August Naegler was the recording engineer.

Bernard Haitink leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony on April 9, 10, 11, and 14, 2015, at Symphony Center.

Boulez & Grammy awards - December 1995

Did you know that Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez is the third all-time Grammy Awards champ? He received his first two Grammy Awards in February 1968, the same evening The Beatles won Album of the Year for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

Sir Georg Solti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s eighth music director, won thirty-one Grammy Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences—more than any other recording artist. Alison Krauss and Quincy Jones tie for the number two slot with twenty-seven awards each, and Boulez is number three, with twenty-six Grammy Awards, including eight with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Following is a complete list of Pierre Boulez’s Grammy Awards† to date:

1967
Album of the Year—Classical (1)
Best Opera Recording (2)
BERG Wozzeck
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Walter Berry, Ingeborg Lasser, Isabel Strauss, Fritz Uhl, Carl Doench
Paris National Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
CBS
(For Album of the Year—Classical, there was a tie that year. Boulez’s recording of Berg’s Wozzeck tied with Leonard Bernstein‘s recording of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 with the London Symphony Orchestra, also for CBS. Soloists included Erna Spoorenberg, Gwyneth Jones, Gwenyth Annear, Anna Reynolds, Norma Procter, John Mitchinson, Vladimir Ruzdiak, and Donald McIntyre; and the choruses were the Leeds Festival Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Orpington Junior Singers, Highgate School Boys’ Choir, and the Finchley Children’s Music Group. John McClure was the producer.)

Debussy Philharmonia

1968
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (3)
DEBUSSY Jeux, La mer, Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
Pierre Boulez, conductor
New Philharmonia Orchestra
CBS

1969
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (4)
DEBUSSY Images for Orchestra
Pierre Boulez, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra
CBS

1970
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (5)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Pierre Boulez, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra
CBS

Bartok New York

1973
Album of the Year—Classical (6)
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (7)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
Pierre Boulez, conductor
New York Philharmonic
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
CBS

1975
Best Classical Performance—Orchestra (8)
RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé
Pierre Boulez, conductor
New York Philharmonic
Camerata Singers
Abraham Kaplan, director
CBS

Berg Lulu

1980
Best Classical Album (9)
Best Opera Recording (10)
BERG Lulu
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Teresa Stratas, Yvonne Minton, Hanna Schwarz, Franz Mazura, Kenneth Riegel, Toni Blankenheim, Robert Tear, Helmut Pampuch
Paris Opera Orchestra
Gunther Breest and Michael Horwath, producers
Deutsche Grammophon

1982
Best Opera Recording (11)
WAGNER Der Ring des Nibelungen
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Donald McIntyre, Gwyneth Jones, Heinz Zednik, Hermann Becht, Jeannine Altmeyer, Manfred Jung, Matti Salminen, Ortrun Wenkel, Peter Hofmann, and Siegfried Jerusalem
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus
Andrew Kazdin, producer
Philips

Boulez Prince

1993
Best Classical Album (12)
Best Orchestral Performance* (13)
Best Performance of a Choral Work** (14)
BARTÓK The Wooden Prince* and Cantata profana**
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Deutsche Grammophon

Boulez Bartok Concerto

1994
Best Classical Album (15)
Best Orchestral Performance (16)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra and Four Orchestral Pieces
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Deutsche Grammophon

1995
Best Classical Album (17)
Best Orchestral Performance* (18)
DEBUSSY La mer*, Nocturnes, Jeux, and First Rhapsody for Clarinet
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Franklin Cohen, clarinet
Women of The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Gareth Morell, director
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Deutsche Grammophon

Boulez Explosante

1996
Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without a conductor) (19)
BOULEZ . . . explosante-fixe . . .
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Ensemble InterContemporain
Deutsche Grammophon

1997
Best Orchestral Performance (20)
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique and Tristia
Pierre Boulez, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Gareth Morell, director
The Cleveland Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon

Boulez Bluebeard

1998
Best Orchestral Performance* (21)
Best Opera Recording** (22)
MAHLER Symphony No. 9*
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle**
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon

Boulez Repons

1999
Best Classical Contemporary Composition (23)
BOULEZ Répons
Pierre Boulez, composer
Deutsche Grammophon

2001
Best Orchestral Performance (24)
VARÈSE Amériques, Arcana, Déserts, and Ionisation
Pierre Boulez, composer
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon

Mahler 3 Vienna

2003
Best Orchestral Performance (25)
MAHLER Symphony No. 3
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Women’s Chorus of the Wiener Singverein
Johannes Prinz, director
Vienna Boys’ Choir
Gerald Wirth, director
Vienna Philharmonic
Deutsche Grammophon

2005
Best Small Ensemble Performance (with our without a conductor) (26)
BOULEZ Le marteau sans maître, Dérive 1, Dérive 2
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Hilary Summers, contralto
Ensemble InterContemporain
Deutsche Grammophon

A database of former Grammy Award winners can be found here; category titles have changed over the years. For opera recordings, only principal soloists are listed.

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.

This week Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony, almost exactly one hundred years since Frederick Stock first conducted it in Chicago.

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first performances of Mahler's First Symphony

Program page for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s First Symphony

That first performance of the symphony (sandwiched between Handel’s Concerto grosso, op. 6, no. 2 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Josef Hofmann) on November 6, 1914, left Ronald Webster of the Chicago Daily Tribune a bit puzzled: “The Mahler symphony is less important but more interesting to talk about because it is strictly earthy. There is a suggestion in the program notes that Mahler was not wholly serious in this symphony. It was obvious yesterday that he was not serious at all. Even the finale is not serious, though it is tiresome, being too long. But it is the quality of the humor which is likely to cause people to turn up their noses. The humor is a little coarse, definitely ironical, of a barnyard kind and healthy. Mahler is himself partly to blame for such ideas about him. Definite conceptions such as his (though he may not have been serious about them either) are death to all mystic attitude toward this work. . . . He suggests that the first movement is nature’s awakening at early morning. One suspects that Mahler included in nature the cows and chickens as well as the cuckoo and the dewy grass.” The complete review is here.

Despite that critic’s early apprehensions, the symphony soon became a staple in the Orchestra’s repertoire and has been led—at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour—by a vast array of conductors, including: Roberto Abbado, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Adam Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Irwin Hoffman, Paul Kletzki, Kirill Kondrashin, Rafael Kubelík, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Henry Mazer, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, George Schick, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Georg Solti, William Steinberg, Klaus Tennstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Bruno Walter, and Jaap van Zweden.

And the Orchestra has recorded the work six times, as follows:

Giulini 1971Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel at Medinah Temple in March 1971
Christopher Bishop, producer
Carson Taylor, engineer
Giulini’s recording won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Orchestra from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Abbado 1981Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in February 1981
Rainer Brock, producer
Karl-August Naegler, engineer

Solti 1983Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London at Orchestra Hall in October 1983
James Mallinson, producer
James Lock, engineer

Tennstedt 1990Klaus Tennstedt, conductor
Recorded by EMI at Orchestra Hall in May and June 1990
John Fraser, producer
Michael Sheady, engineer

Boulez 1998Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon at Orchestra Hall in May 1998
Karl-August Naegler, producer
Rainer Maillard and Reinhard Lagemann, engineers

Haitink 2008Bernard Haitink, conductor
Recorded by CSO Resound at Orchestra Hall in May 2008
James Mallinson, producer
Christopher Willis, engineer

For more information on Muti’s performances of Mahler’s First this week, please visit the CSO’s website.

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