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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family notes with sorrow the passing of Rudolph “Rudy” Nashan, a member of the trumpet section from 1950 until 1963. He died on August 9, 2017, at the age of 94.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in the fall of 1950: left to right, Renold Schilke, Gerald Huffman, Rudolph Nashan, and Adolph Herseth

Nashan was born in Münster, Germany on July 25, 1923, and the family soon immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago. He began playing the trumpet in elementary school and continued lessons while attending Lane Tech. Nashan was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1941 until 1943, and following the outbreak of World War II, in 1942 he joined the U.S. Army, serving in a military band in Skokie, Illinois. During his service, he worked not only as a trumpeter but also as a translator for incoming German war prisoners who had been transported to the United States as farm laborers from South Africa.

After the war, Nashan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and studied with Georges C. Mager, then principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after receiving his performer’s certificate, new music director Rafael Kubelík invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as second trumpet, where he served for ten years, moving to fourth trumpet in 1960.

As a tireless advocate for the rights of musicians, in 1962 Nashan was one of the founding members of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. He resigned his post with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1963 when he was elected vice president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, where he was instrumental in completing the merger of the segregated Chicago locals.

Nashan later worked as an artist representative for the National Endowment for the Arts for the New England area and also served as principal trumpet and personnel manager of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Upon his retirement, he and his wife Catherine moved to Belfast, Maine, where he taught several young trumpeters privately and at local colleges. Nashan was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

His first wife Catherine preceded him in death. Nashan is survived by his second wife Patricia and two children from his first marriage, Rebecca Devereaux and Georges Nashan. Service details are pending.

In 2012, ICSOM held its fiftieth anniversary meeting in Chicago and to commemorate the event, a documentary was produced. Nashan was one of several Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians prominently featured in the film, offering first-hand accounts of working conditions in orchestras in the early years.

Muenzer, Edgar1

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family notes with sorrow the passing of Edgar Muenzer, a member of the violin section from 1956 until 2003. He died on July 22, 2016, at the age of 88, following a long illness.

Music was long the lifeblood of the Muenzer family. Edgar’s father, Hans, was concertmaster of the Chicago Theater Orchestra, the WGN Symphonietta, and head of the string department at the University of Iowa; his mother, Esther Payne, was a concert pianist and teacher. His brother Albert was professor of violin at the University of Houston and served as concertmaster of the Houston Grand Opera until his retirement; and his sister, Louise Bruyn, pursued modern dance and taught in Boston.

An alumnus of Lane Technical High School in Chicago and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Muenzer was a musician in the U.S. Air Force for nearly a decade. Following his military service, he was appointed by Fritz Reiner to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s second violin section in March 1956, moving to the first violin section in October of that year. In addition to previous solo work with orchestras and in recital, Muenzer was an active chamber musician as a member of the Chadamin Trio and the Chicago Symphony String Quartet. He was professor of violin at Northwestern University from 1970 until 1988 and concertmaster of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra from 1988 until 1994.

Serving under four music directors—Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—Muenzer retired from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2003 after forty-seven years. In his retirement, he was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association, serving for many years on the board of directors.

Muenzer, Edgar2

In 1994, Muenzer and his wife Nancy founded the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra. For nearly twenty years, he was music director, growing the ensemble into one of Illinois’s finest professional orchestras and featuring soloists that included CSO concertmasters Samuel Magad and Robert Chen, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, CSO principal cello John Sharp, CSO principal trumpet Adolph Herseth, and baritone William Warfield, among many others. Under Muenzer’s leadership, the ensemble received numerous awards, including Orchestra of the Year from the Illinois Council of Orchestras in 2000 and the Governor’s Hometown Award in 1998. In 2002, Muenzer won the Illinois Council of Orchestras’ Conductor of the Year Award, and in 2004, he and Nancy received a Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. Following his retirement in March 2013, he passed the baton to his son Victor and became music director emeritus.

Edgar Muenzer is survived by his beloved wife, Nancy; three sons Victor, Peter, and James; and grandchildren Gregory and Gabriel. Services have been held.

Upon his retirement, Muenzer recalled one of his early experiences in the Orchestra: “One of my most memorable performances was shortly after I joined the Orchestra. We did a staged version of Richard Strauss’s Elektra, with Fritz Reiner conducting. It was as if I hit the ceiling, it was such a wonderful experience—not only to be able to play that music, but to hear it, right in the orchestra. That was the first of many high points, experiences that I will never forget.”

An obituary was posted by the Chicago Tribune on July 25, 2016.

Adrian Da Prato (1)

Adrian Da Prato, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s violin section from 1946 until 1996, died on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Chicago. He was 94.

Born in Barga in 1920, in the region of Tuscany, Da Prato became fascinated with the sound of the violin while attending silent movies as a child in his native Italy. The films were accompanied by piano and violin, and his attention invariably would turn from the motion picture to the violinist in the pit.

Da Prato began violin lessons at age nine after his family arrived in America. In Chicago he attended Lane Technical High School and the American Conservatory of Music, two schools he remembered warmly for instilling enthusiasm through their mutual support and continuous exchange of ideas among talented students. His first teacher was Pellegro Pacini, and he later studied with Scott Willits and CSO concertmaster John Weicher.

After being inducted in the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II, Da Prato later was assigned to special services in Hawaii, where he was active in all facets of performing for the troops throughout the islands. He was a member of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before music director Désiré Defauw invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1946.

Da Prato cherished his friendship with Carlo Maria Giulini, the Orchestra’s principal guest conductor from 1969 until 1972, which dated back to 1955 when the Italian maestro arrived in Chicago for his American debut. He spoke little English and Da Prato was asked to help translate for him; but, as he recalled, “There was no real problem, because the rapport between the Orchestra and Maestro Giulini was such that words really were not necessary.”

Da Prato also was a member of the Chicago Strings, which toured throughout the United States and Europe. Additionally, he performed in chamber ensembles and in many schools throughout Chicago. His violin was a Peter Guarnerius of Mantua, dated 1710.

After forty-nine years with the Orchestra and serving under seven music directors—Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—Da Prato retired in 1996. In his retirement, Da Prato was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association for many years.

Adrian Da Prato (2)

In an interview from the 1970s, Da Prato reflected on his time with the Orchestra. “When the players perform well—having been together, played together, lived together on tour, and seen each other every day—it helps enormously because we fit in. It’s just like a string quartet. You can have the four greatest players in the world, individually great, who will play together, but there must be that unity of purpose. Like an old bottle of wine, it has to have a good vintage to start out with, then it reaches a point where its fullness is realized. When an orchestra works together it grows; that is the beautiful experience. It is magic. It is a great orchestra.”

He is survived by his niece Paula Bertolozzi and several grandnieces, great-grandnieces, and great-grandnephews. There will be a funeral service on Friday, March 20, 2015, at Cumberland Chapels (8300 West Lawrence Avenue in Norridge) from 9:00 until 11:30 a.m., followed by mass at Our Lady Mother of the Church (8701 West Lawrence Avenue). In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Sam Denov, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s percussion section from 1954 until 1985, passed away on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Des Plaines, Illinois. He was 91.Sam Denov

Born in Chicago in 1923, Sam Denov attended Lane Technical High School and, following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he spent a year in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before joining the San Antonio Symphony in 1947. Three years later he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra where he remained for two seasons before returning to Chicago to operate his own high-fidelity equipment business. In 1954, he was invited by music director Fritz Reiner to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s percussion section. Denov also later attended Roosevelt University, earning a bachelor’s degree in labor studies.

A tireless activist for musicians’ rights, Denov was a major force in the founding of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, serving at various times as chairman, vice-chairman, and editor of the ICSOM newsletter Senza Sordino. Following his retirement from the Orchestra in 1985, he became a labor relations consultant, representing clients before the National Labor Relations Board. At the ICSOM annual conference in 2009, the delegates passed a resolution by unanimous consent honoring Denov for “his many contributions as an early leader in the orchestra field” and expressing “ICSOM’s respect and admiration as an ICSOM founder.” At the 2012 conference, he addressed the group’s fiftieth anniversary along with several of his CSO colleagues.

Widely known among percussionists, Denov authored three books: The Art of Playing Cymbals: A Complete Guide and Text for the Artistic Percussionist (1966), Symphonic Paradox: The Misadventures of a Wayward Musician (2002), and Boom and Crash Musician: A Percussive Memoir (2012). He also contributed numerous articles to professional journals.

Sam and Lorraine Denov at the CSO Alumni Association reunion in November 2012 (Dan Rest photo)

Sam and Lorraine Denov at the CSO Alumni Association reunion in November 2012 (Dan Rest photo)

In his retirement, Denov was an active member of the CSO Alumni Association, serving as its first president from 1993 until 1996, as a board member, and as secretary-editor.

Denov is survived by his beloved wife Lorraine, his son Ernie, and several nieces, nephews, step-children, and step-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife Charlotte and his son Tyrone Walls. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at the Brookdale Plaza (800 South River Road, Des Plaines, Illinois) on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.

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Theodore Thomas

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