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On August 26, 1971, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—plus family members, administrative staff, trustees, governing members, and several members of the press—departed Chicago for Vienna, embarking on the ensemble’s first overseas tour to Europe.

Georg Solti, beginning his third season as eighth music director, and Carlo Maria Giulini, the first principal guest conductor, would join the Orchestra on the road for nearly six weeks for a tour that included twenty-five concerts in fifteen venues in nine countries: Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, and Sweden. The repertoire varied from symphonies by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Haydn, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky; to piano concertos by Mozart and Prokofiev, featuring Vladimir Ashkenazy and Rafael Orozco; and orchestral works by Bartók, Berlioz, Carter, Ravel, and Stravinsky. No other international tour since has included more concerts or a wider variety of programming.

The detailed tour schedule is available here:

The first concert of the tour was given in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on September 4, with Solti leading Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carter’s Variations for Orchestra, and Brahms’s First Symphony (a video of most of that performance is available from ICA Classics). The final concert was given on October 5 in London’s Royal Festival Hall, with the Orchestra performing Mozart’s Symphony no. 39, Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony under Giulini’s baton.

Tickertape parade down State and LaSalle streets on October 14, 1971 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

Consistently welcomed and cheered by capacity audiences, the Orchestra received overwhelmingly favorable critical response. Upon their return to Chicago, the musicians were welcomed as heroes with a tickertape parade down State and LaSalle streets on October 14, 1971.

Before the Orchestra performed a single concert, there were four recording sessions for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Sofiensaal in Vienna beginning on August 30. The cast included sopranos Heather HarperLucia Popp, and Arleen Augér; mezzo-soprano Yvonne Minton; contralto Helen Watts; tenor René Kollo; baritone John Shirley-Quirk; bass Martti Talvela; and three choruses: the Chorus of the Vienna State Opera, the Singverein Chorus, and the Vienna Boys Choir.

London Records released the recording in October 1972. In Gramophone, Edward Greenfield wrote, “Now at last Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand can be heard on record at something approaching its full, expansive stature. Here is a version from Solti which far more clearly than any previous one conveys the feeling of a great occasion. Just as a great performance, live in the concert hall, takes off and soars from the very start, so the impact of the great opening on ‘Veni, creator spiritus’ tingles here with electricity . . . [with] playing from the Chicago orchestra that shows up all rivals in precision of ensemble, Solti’s performance sets standards beyond anything we have known before. . . . This is as near a live performance as the dynamic Solti can make it. At times, the sheer physical impact makes one gasp for breath, and I found myself at the thunderous end of the first movement shouting out in joyous sympathy, so overwhelming is the build-up of tension. . . . No doubt one day the achievement of this first really great recording of Mahler’s Eighth will be surpassed, but in the meantime I can only urge all Mahlerians—and others too—to share the great experience which Solti and his collaborators offer.”

The recording would win three 1972 Grammy awards for Album of the Year–ClassicalBest Choral Performance–Classical (other than opera), and Best Engineered Recording–Classical.

This article also appears here. Portions of this article previously appeared herehere, and here.

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Music Director Georg Solti and Principal Guest Conductor Carlo Maria Giulini shared conducting duties during the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first overseas tour to Europe in 1971.

The Orchestra was on the road for nearly six weeks, leaving Chicago on August 26 and not returning until October 6, and the tour included twenty-five concerts in fifteen venues in nine countries, with sixteen different works performed. No other CSO international tour since has included more concerts or a wider variety of programming.

Reviews from the tour were numerous, and a small sample are linked here, from Edinburgh, Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Milan, and Paris.

The concert schedule was as follows:

September 4, 1971 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Georg Solti, conductor
MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

September 5, 1971 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Georg Solti, conductor
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

September 6, 1971 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
BERLIOZ Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

September 7, 1971 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16
Rafael Orozco, piano
HAYDN Symphony No. 94 in G Major (Surprise)
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole

September 9, 1971 – Opera House, Ghent, Belgium
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

September 10, 1971 – Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Georg Solti, conductor
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

September 13, 1971 – Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki, Finland
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
HAYDN Symphony No. 94 in G Major (Surprise)
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

September 14, 1971 – Konserthuset, Göteborg, Sweden
Georg Solti, conductor
MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

September 15, 1971 – Folkets Hus, Stockholm, Sweden
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

September 16, 1971 – Folkets Hus, Stockholm, Sweden
Georg Solti, conductor
MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

When the musicians returned to Chicago at the end of the tour they received a hero’s welcome with a tickertape parade down State and LaSalle streets on October 14, 1971

September 18, 1971 – Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
September 22, 1971 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
Georg Solti, conductor
MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

September 19, 1971 – Kuppelsaal der Stadthalle, Hannover, Germany
September 25, 1971 – Grosser Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
Georg Solti, conductor
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

September 21, 1971 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

September 23, 1971 – Grosse Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany
September 27, 28, and 29, 1971 – La Scala, Milan, Italy
October 1, 1971 – Kongress-Hall im Deutschen Museum, Munich, Germany
October 2, 1971 – Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France
October 4, 1971 – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
Georg Solti, conductor
MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

September 26, 1971 – Grosser Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
BERLIOZ Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
HAYDN Symphony No. 94 in G Major (Surprise)
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

October 3, 1971 – Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
HAYDN Symphony No. 94 in G Major (Surprise)
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

October 5, 1971 – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

NOTE: post updated on August 22 to clean up link to concert reviews.

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