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We have just received word that Rubén D’Artagnan González, a concertmaster with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1986 until 1996, died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 13, 2018, after a long illness. He was 79.

González began studying the violin at the age of five in his native Argentina. He became a student of Osvaldo Pessina in Buenos Aires, later completing his studies with Salomon Baron in France and Riccardo Brengola in Italy. First prize winner of the International Competition of Barcelona in 1965, González also received the silver medal at the Geneva Competition and the diploma of honor of the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy.

A former member of I Virtuosi di Roma, González was music director of the Camerata Bariloche, Argentina’s leading chamber orchestra, with which he toured extensively and recorded Martinů’s Concerto da camera for Philips. Other solo recordings included violin sonatas by Prokofiev and Honegger along with works by Ginastera.

González served as concertmaster of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, associate concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1977 until 1981, and later concertmaster of the Houston Symphony from 1981 until 1986, when he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to be one of two concertmasters (along with Samuel Magad) of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. González appeared on numerous recordings and as soloist with the Orchestra on several occasions, including Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Solti, Busoni’s Violin Concerto with James Paul, Chausson’s Poème and Haydn’s C major violin concerto under Erich Leinsdorf, Ginastera’s Violin Concerto with Dennis Russell Davies, Mozart’s D major Serenade under Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt, and Strauss’s Violin Concerto under Daniel Barenboim. In 1996, González resigned as concertmaster to continue his work as a conductor and composer.

As an educator, González served on the faculties of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, the University of Minnesota, Congress of Strings, and the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina. He was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Upon his resignation, González wrote to his colleagues, “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been the crowning of my career as an orchestral musician and concertmaster. I keep the Orchestra in my heart as the jewel of my music-making life. I am most grateful to all of you for your support, help, and friendship throughout these ten years.”

Services have been held.



James Levine in the early 1970s (Metropolitan Opera photo)

James Levine in the early 1970s (Metropolitan Opera photo)

As a last-minute replacement conductor for the opening concert of the Ravinia Festival’s thirty-sixth season on June 24, 1971, James Levine led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Mahler’s Second Symphony. Having just made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera leading Puccini’s Tosca on June 5, he conducted both the rehearsals and the performance of the Mahler without a score.

In the Chicago Daily News, Bernard Jacobson reported that the reverberations of Mahler’s symphony “were matched at the end of the performance by the ovation that greeted conductor James Levine. And indeed, this gifted twenty-eight-year-old musician earned every last resounding cheer. He had taken the concert over at a week’s notice from István Kertész (who was himself a replacement for the originally scheduled Eugene Ormandy), and everything he did was proof of thorough preparation, fine artistic judgment, and the ability to communicate ideas to an orchestra and, through it, to the audience.”

By February 1972, the Metropolitan announced that Levine would become its first principal conductor, and that October, Ravinia announced that he would be the festival’s second music director, succeeding Kertész, who had served as principal conductor from 1970 through the 1972 season.

Levine launched the first of his twenty years at the Ravinia Festival on June 27, 1973, leading the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. His tenure was marked with an astonishing range of repertoire: cycles of symphonies by Brahms and Mahler; Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Beethoven’s piano concertos; choral masterworks by Berlioz, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Orff, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky; and concert performances of operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart, Puccini, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner, all with the leading singers of the day.

Carmina burana

Levine amassed an extensive discography with the Orchestra and Chorus (including several Grammy winners) on Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and RCA, recorded at Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple, including Beethoven’s five piano concertos with Alfred Brendel; Berg’s Violin Concerto and Rihm’s Time Chant with Anne-Sophie Mutter; Brahms’s four symphonies and A German Requiem with Kathleen Battle and Håkan Hagegård; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (conducting from the keyboard); Holst’s The Planets; Mahler’s symphonies no. 3 with Marilyn Horne, no. 4 with Judith Blegen, and no. 7; and Schubert’s Ninth Symphony.

Twenty years to the day of his first concert as music director, Levine capped his tenure on June 27, 1993, leading the Orchestra and Chorus in Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

This article also appears here.

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:

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
(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

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

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

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

Bartok New York

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

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

Berg Lulu

Best Classical Album (9)
Best Opera Recording (10)
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

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

Boulez Prince

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mahler 3 Vienna

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

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.

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


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