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For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s twelfth tour to Europe, Daniel Barenboim led three concerts at the Philharmonie in Berlin, in conjunction with the 1996 Easter Festival (Festtage).

Barenboim leads the Orchestra at the Philharmonie in Berlin on on April 3, 1996 (Monika Rittershaus photo)

April 3, 1996 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Martha Argerich, piano
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 5, 1996 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 and Good Friday Music from Parsifal*
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
*Argerich originally was scheduled to perform Liszt’s Totentanz, but she canceled due to illness.

April 6, 1996 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Martha Argerich, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Barenboim and the Orchestra returned to Europe later that same year, for a five-concert tour to England and Ireland. Sir Georg Solti led the fourth concert of the tour on September 13—Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as part of at The Proms.

September 8, 1996 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
September 14, 1996 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England
VERDI Overture to La forza del destino
ELGAR Falstaff, Op. 68
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the September 12, 1996, concert at the Royal Albert Hall

September 9, 1996 – National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland
September 12, 1996 – Royal Albert Hall, London, England
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

The Orchestra’s fourteenth European tour included stops in Germany and France, with three Festtage concerts in Berlin.

June 4, 1997 – Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
June 5, 1997 – Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
REIMANN Violin Concerto
Gidon Kremer, violin
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 6, 1997 – Roncalliplatz, Cologne, Germany
GERSHWIN Cuban Overture
GERSHWIN Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra
William Eddins, piano
GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue
William Eddins, piano
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Vengerov rehearses Sibelius’s Violin Concerto under Barenboim’s baton at the Philharmonie in Cologne on June 8, 1997 (Klaus Rudolph photo)

June 8, 1997 – Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
June 9, 1997 – Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
HÖLLER Aura
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Plácido Domingo, conductor

June 10, 1997 – Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Domingo congratulates Barenboim following a performance of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain at the Philharmonie in Cologne on June 8, 1997 (Astrid Kessler photo)

Barenboim and the Orchestra again returned to Berlin’s Festtage in the spring of 1998 for the fifteenth European tour

April 2, 1998 – Châtelet Théâtre Musical de Paris, Paris, France
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 3, 1998 – Châtelet Théâtre Musical de Paris, Paris, France
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 6, 1998 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Maxim Vengerov, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 7, 1998 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 8, 1998 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Jonathan Gilad, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the September 5, 1998, concert in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

The second trip to Europe in 1998 featured stops in England, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and the Orchestra’s first appearances in Romania.

September 3, 1998 – Royal Albert Hall, London, England
BIRTWISTLE Exody
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 4, 1998 – Royal Albert Hall, London, England
September 5, 1998 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
September 11, 1998 – Kultur and Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in E Minor, Op. 64 (Pathétique)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 7, 1998 – Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the September 16, 1998, concert at the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna

September 8, 1998 – Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium
WAGNER Prelude to Lohengrin
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in E Minor, Op. 64 (Pathétique)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 9, 1998 – Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden, Germany
September 15, 1998 – Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 12, 1998 – Kultur and Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 14, 1998 – Philharmonie am Gasteig, Munich, Germany
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the spring 1999 Festtage in Berlin

September 16, 1998 – Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
September 18, 1998 – Sala Mare a Palatului, Bucharest, Romania
WAGNER Prelude to Lohengrin
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in E Minor, Op. 64 (Pathétique)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 19, 1998 – Sala Mare a Palatului, Bucharest, Romania
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Radu Lupu, piano
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

For the 1999 Festtage , Barenboim invited the Chicago Symphony Chorus to join the Orchestra for two concerts in Berlin, including Pierre Boulez leading Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron on April 1.

March 31, 1999 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Dorothea Röschmann, soprano
Thomas Quasthoff, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the April 27 and 28, 2000, concerts in Cologne’s Philharmonie

April 3, 1999 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

The Orchestra’s eighteenth European tour included Barenboim leading concerts in Germany, Spain, and Portugal, with Boulez taking the reins for two concerts in Cologne.

April 21, 2000 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Maurizio Pollini, piano
DEBUSSY La mer
BOULEZ Notations for Orchestra I-IV, VII
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 22, 2000 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Radu Lupu, piano
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Luggage sticker for the 2000 tour to Europe

April 27, 2000 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
April 28, 2000 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
BOULEZ Notations for Orchestra I-IV, VII
DEBUSSY La mer
FALLA The Three-Cornered Hat
Elisabete Matos, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 30, 2000 – Palau de la Musica, Barcelona, Spain
May 1, 2000 – Auditoria Nacional de la Musica, Madrid, Spain
May 3, 2000 – Coliseu dos Recreios, Lisbon, Portugal
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 2, 2000 – Auditoria Nacional de la Musica, Madrid, Spain
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
DEBUSSY La mer
FALLA The Three-Cornered Hat
Elisabete Matos, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

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February 8 and 9, 1934

February 8 and 9, 1934

Arnold Schoenberg composed his Five Pieces for Orchestra in 1909, and they were first performed at a Proms concert in London on September 3, 1912, with Sir Henry Wood conducting. Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra introduced the work to the U.S. on October 31, 1913.

Schoenberg, in a letter to Richard Strauss in July 1909, admitted that the Five Pieces are “absolutely not symphonic, completely the opposite, no architecture, no structure. Only a kaleidoscopic, uninterrupted changing of colors, rhythms, and moods.”

Frederick Stock and Arnold Schoenberg in Orchestra Hall, February 1934

Frederick Stock and Arnold Schoenberg in Orchestra Hall, February 1934

On February 8 and 9, 1934, a few months after moving to the United States, Arnold Schoenberg appeared as guest conductor, leading the Orchestra in his Transfigured Night, Five Pieces for Orchestra, and his orchestration of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major (Saint Anne). In the Chicago Daily News, Eugene Stinson described the composer as “the most eminent, the most obscure, the most debated, and the most explained of any figure in twentieth-century art” and the Five Pieces as an “extraordinarily intellectual [yet] essentially subjective and emotional expression of himself in music.”

Needless to say, Schoenberg’s Five Pieces were difficult for Chicago audiences not only at the U.S. premiere but also under the composer’s baton. In the Chicago American, Herman Devries described them as “grim and repellent studies in dissonance, which, despite their amazing orchestration, do not invite repeated hearing.” Edward Moore in the Chicago Tribune admitted that “they did not always make sense to me. There was no particular logic about their beginning or ending. They just ran along for a time and then stopped. But almost continuously they were saying something pleasant. And there is no question but that Mr. Schoenberg has an unfailing sense of what makes attractive orchestral color. It may be winsome, it may be grotesque, but he never misses his effect.”

This article also appears here.

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Royal Albert Hall, August 28, 1989 (Jim Steere photo)

Royal Albert Hall, August 28, 1989 (Jim Steere photo)

On August 28, 1989, in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Sir Georg Solti led the Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus—in its European debut—in Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. Soloists included mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, tenor Keith Lewis, bass-baritone José van Dam, and bass Peter Rose.

“I doubt that there will be a better Prom this year,” wrote Tom Sutcliffe in The Independent. “The sheer accuracy of the playing is astounding. . . . The crispness of the rhythms, the ability to switch mood in a phrase, ran throughout the ensemble— and of course when excitement or shock was needed, it sprang out instantly at Solti’s slightest indication, providing marvelous evidence of a long and deep relationship between instruments and conductor in which little needed to be said or shown for everything meant to be instantly understood. . . . And what a chorus the Chicago Symphony has, to comply with Solti’s needs, youthful, beautiful in tone and robust in attack, every word totally clear, understood and stylishly enunciated. Well, Solti’s chorus master is Margaret Hillis—simply the best.”

The Orchestra and Chorus also performed Berlioz’s Faust on August 30 in Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus, and Solti and the Orchestra continued on through Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands before returning to London’s Royal Albert Hall* for the final concert of the tour on September 18.

The August 28 concert was recorded for television broadcast and later released by London Records on video.

Berlioz album

Also for London, Solti conducted the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (including mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, tenor Kenneth Riegel, bass-baritone José van Dam, and bass Malcolm King) in recording sessions of The Damnation of Faust in May 1981 at Medinah Temple. The recording was awarded the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Choral.

*The September 18 concert originally had been scheduled for London’s Royal Festival Hall. As a result of a pay dispute earlier that month, there was the prospect of a strike between the unions representing the technicians and box office staff and management at South Bank Centre. The concert was moved to Royal Albert Hall to avoid the possibility of Orchestra musicians crossing picket lines.

This article also appears here.

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