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Chausow, Leonard

Leonard Chausow, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section from 1956 until 2003, passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 24. He was 86.

Chausow was one of four musical brothers (his brother Oscar was a member of the CSO’s violin section from 1938 until 1946). Although his parents were not musical, they loved having music in their home. After high school, Chausow joined the Minneapolis Symphony and, while there, served on the faculties of Carleton College and Saint Olaf College. He studied cello with Karl Fruh and Harry Sturm and later with Frank Miller in New York.

After service in the army during the Korean War, Chausow returned to Chicago. In 1956, he was invited by music director Fritz Reiner to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and in 1964 he was promoted by music director Jean Martinon to serve as assistant principal cello. In addition, Chausow served as acting principal cello for two seasons during Sir Georg Solti’s tenure as music director. In 1993, he became assistant principal emeritus and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2003.

Chausow was active as a teacher not only in Minnesota, but also at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and he also taught privately. He regularly coached Civic Orchestra cellists and gave master classes and seminars at universities across the country.

Chausow, Leonard (3)

Also dedicated to chamber music, Chausow performed with the Chadamin Trio, Chicago Symphony String Quartet, and the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players. He was a founding member of the Evanston Chamber Ensemble for sixteen years. Chausow appeared as soloist on Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, with many local orchestras, and on CSO Youth Concerts.

Chausow is survived by his beloved wife of sixty-three years Miriam (“Mickey”), daughters Lynn Chase and Carol Zens (Tim), and several grandchildren. His daughter Sharon Chausow (Michael Phillips, survived) passed away in 2013.

There will be a memorial service on Tuesday, January 27 at 12:00 noon at the Weinstein Funeral Home in Wilmette. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Endowment Fund.

Upon his retirement in 2003, Chausow reflected on his forty-seven years in the Orchestra: “As a native Chicagoan, spending most of my professional career with this great orchestra has been a dream come true. The opportunity to sit alongside my teacher, the legendary Frank Miller, as his assistant principal cellist was at once personally gratifying and a tremendous learning experience.”

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With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Georg Solti conducted Bach’s monumental Saint Matthew Passion on four different occasions at Orchestra Hall:

April 9 and 10, 1971
Jesus: Tom Krause
Evangelist: Richard Lewis
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Richard Lewis, Donald Gramm
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Stephen Swanson, Nancy Clevenger, Ellen Rico, Linda Mabbs, Jack Abraham, Eugene Johnson, Frederic Chrislip, Karen Zajac
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, DeVere Moore, Victor Aitay, Sidney Weiss, Eva Heinitz
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus; Barbara Born, director
These performances were dedicated to the memory of Igor Stravinsky, who had died on April 6, 1971.

April 12 and 13, 1974
Jesus: Gwynne Howell
Evangelist: Mallory Walker
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Jerry Jennings, Philip Booth
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Curtis Dickson, Gershon Silins, Stephen Swanson, Donna Gullstrand, Alexis Darden, Sarah Beatty, Richard Livingston, Philip Creech, Isola Jones
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, John Hsu
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Mary Sauer, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

April 4 and 6, 1985
Jesus: Wolfgang Schoene
Evangelist: Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Aria soloists: Pamela Coburn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Thomas Moser, Siegmund Nimsgern
Other vocal soloists: Bruce Cain, Richard Cohn, Jane Green, Joan Welles, Doris Kirschner, Karen Zajac, Tim O’Connor
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, Catharina Meints
Continuo: Mary Sauer, David Schrader, Richard Webster, Leonard Chausow, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

Saint Matthew Passion recording session in Orchestra Hall

March 19 and 21, 1987
Jesus: Olaf Bär
Evangelist: Hans Peter Blochwitz
Aria soloists: Kiri Te Kanawa, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Moser, Tom Krause
Other vocal soloists: Richard Cohn, Patrice Michaels, Debra Austin, William Watson
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Judith Kulb, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Samuel Magad, Rubén González, Catharina Meints, Mary Sauer
Continuo: David Schrader, John Sharp, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Lucy Ding, acting director

Following the performances in March 1987, the work was recorded for London Records. Andrew Cornall was the producer, and Simon Eadon and John Pellowe were the engineers.

Solti, members of the Orchestra, and soloists listen to playbacks

I inadvertently neglected to include the 1971 performances in the first version of this post. —FV

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