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Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to American pianist André Watts!

André Watts (Steve J. Sherman photo)

Watts was born in Nuremberg, Germany, to a Hungarian mother and an African American U.S. Army soldier. His mother was his first piano teacher, and by the age of nine, he had won a competition to perform on a children’s concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Watts became a part of the American musical fabric when, at the age of sixteen, he appeared on a nationally televised Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic on January 15, 1963, performing Liszt’s First Piano Concerto under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. Two weeks later, an ailing Glenn Gould canceled with the Philharmonic, and Bernstein invited Watts to perform the same Liszt concerto on subscription concerts on short notice. Columbia Masterworks soon recorded Watts’s interpretation, and the release The Exciting Debut of André Watts won the 1963 Grammy Award for Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist.

Watts became a student of Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory, combining his studies with a packed concert schedule that quickly included as many as 150 concerts a year. He soon made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in June 1965, one day before his nineteenth birthday. Since then, Watts has been a frequent guest, appearing with the Orchestra on many occasions, as follows:

June 19, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

May 7, 8, and 9, 1970, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

Watt’s debut with the CSO at the Ravinia Festival on June 19, 1965

July 14, 1970, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
István Kertész, conductor

May 20, 21, and 22, 1971, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Henry Mazer, conductor

December 2 and 3, 1971, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

July 18, 1972, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 3, 1974, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

August 3, 1975, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Lawrence Foster, conductor

July 15, 1976, Ravinia Festival
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
James Levine, conductor

July 7, 1977, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
LISZT Totentanz
James Levine, conductor

Watt’s Ravinia Festival debut biography (June 19, 1965)

May 31 and June 1, 1979, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 7, 1979, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
James Levine, conductor

July 11, 1980, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

June 28, 1981, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
James Levine, conductor

August 7, 1982, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Maxim Shostakovich, conductor

July 13, 1984, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
James Levine, conductor

July 12, 1985, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
James Levine, conductor

January 23, 24, and 26, 1986, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
LISZT Totentanz
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 11, 1986, Ravinia Festival
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

August 15, 1987, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
George Cleve, conductor

Watt’s debut with the CSO in Orchestra Hall on May 7, 8, and 9, 1970

July 2, 1989, Ravinia Festival
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
James Levine, conductor

July 20, 1991, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor

July 17, 1992, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
James Conlon, conductor

February 25, 26, 27, and 28, 1993, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25
David Loebel, conductor

July 23, 1993, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
John Nelson, conductor

November 1, 1993, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Gerhardt Zimmermann, conductor

August 6, 1994, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

June 30, 1995, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

January 24 and 25, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
LISZT Totentanz
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 26, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
LISZT Totentanz
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Watt’s CSO subscription concert debut biography (May 7, 8, and 9, 1970)

January 27, 1996, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 2, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
LUTOSŁAWSKI Variations on a Theme by Paganini
Hermann Michael, conductor

August 1, 1997, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

May 14, 15, 16, and 19, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

August 14, 1998, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 16, 1999, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Claus Peter Flor, conductor

November 2, 1999, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
William Eddins, conductor

January 11, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

André Watts in 1971 (James J. Kriegsmann photo)

August 4, 2000, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Roberto Abbado, conductor

April 19, 20, and 21, 2001, Orchestra Hall
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

July 1, 2001, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT/Stein Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940
LISZT Totentanz
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 29, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 5, 2007, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
James Conlon, conductor

July 8, 2011, Ravinia Festival
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Renée Fleming (Timothy White photo for Decca)

Wishing a very happy sixtieth birthday to the incomparable American soprano Renée Fleming!

For nearly thirty years, Fleming has been a regular guest with the Chicago Symphony, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as follows:

January 16, 17, and 18, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Peter Rose, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 27, 28, 29, and 30, 1993, Orchestra Hall
FAURÉ Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48
Andreas Schmidt, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Vance George, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

August 5, 1994, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Te Deum from Quattro pezzi sacri
ROSSINI Stabat mater
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Gregory Kunde, tenor
Dean Peterson, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

January 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1998, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
STRAUSS Moonlight Music and Morgen mittag um elf! from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Plácido Domingo and Renée Fleming onstage at Orchestra Hall, January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

January 26, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
BERNSTEIN Somewhere from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
ELLINGTON In a Sentimental Mood
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
This special concert—entitled Star-Crossed Lovers—featured Fleming with Plácido Domingo in songs, arias, and duets, along with narrators Lynn Redgrave and Timothy Dalton. The concert was recorded for a Great Performances telecast and a London Records release.

August 8, 1998, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 31, 2004, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Marie Theres’! . . . Hab’ mir’s gelobt and Ist ein Traum from Der Rosenkavalier
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 1, 2004, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL Morrai, sì l’empia tua testa and Ombre, piante from Rodelinda
MASSENET Adieu, notre petite table and Obéissons quand leur voix appellee from Manon
STRAUSS Moonlight Music and Morgen mittag um elf! from Capriccio
TRADITIONAL/Grusin Shenandoah
TRADITIONAL/Grusin The Water is Wide
PORTER So in Love from Kiss Me, Kate
RODGERS You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel
CATALANI Ebben, ne andrò lontana from La Wally
PUCCINI O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
VERDI Merci jeunes amies from Les vêpres siciliennes
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 5, 2006, Ravinia Festival
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
CILEA Poveri fiori from Adriana Lecouvreur
PUCCINI O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
PUCCINI Vissi d’arte from Tosca
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

Chicago Symphony Orchestra opening night gala, October 3, 2009

October 3, 2009, Orchestra Hall
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
STRAUSS Freundliche Vision, Op. 48, No. 1
STRAUSS Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1
STRAUSS Winterweihe, Op. 48, No. 4
STRAUSS Verführung, Op. 33, No. 1
Paavo Järvi, conductor

July 24, 2010, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

In recital, Fleming also has appeared in Orchestra Hall on three occasions:

October 27, 1996
SCHUBERT Die Männer sind méchant, D. 866, No. 3
SCHUBERT Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
SCHUBERT Im Frühling, D. 882
SCHUBERT Der Tod und das Mädchen, D. 531
SCHUBERT Nacht und Träume, D. 827
SCHUBERT Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
STRAUSS Befreit, Op. 39, No. 4
STRAUSS Muttertändelei, Op. 43, No. 2
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WOLF Heiß’ mich nicht reden (Mignon I)
WOLF Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Mignon II)
WOLF So laßt mich scheinen (Mignon III)
WOLF Kennst du das Land (Mignon’s Song)
FAURÉ Lydia, Op. 4, No. 2
FAURÉ Clair de lune, Op. 46, No. 2
FAURÉ Chanson d’amour, Op. 27, No. 1
FAURÉ Les roses d’Ispahan, Op. 39, No. 4
FAURÉ Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1
ELLINGTON Prelude to a Kiss
ELLINGTON Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me
ELLINGTON In a Sentimental Mood
ELLINGTON It Don’t Mean a Thing
Christoph Eschenbach, piano

January 24, 1999
SCHUBERT Suleika I, D. 720
SCHUBERT Scene from Faust, D. 126
SCHUBERT Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
GLINKA Gretchen am Spinnrade
LISZT Kennst du das Land, S. 275/1
MENDELSSOHN Suleika, Op. 57, No. 3
WOLF Heiss mich nicht reden (Mignon I)
WOLF Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Mignon II)
WOLF So lasst mich scheinen (Mignon III)
WOLF Kennst du das Land (Mignon IV)
DEBUSSY Ariettes oubliée
STRAUSS Einerlei, Op. 69, No. 3
STRAUSS Ich trage meine Minne, Op. 32, No. 1
STRAUSS Efeu from Mädchenblumen, Op. 22, No. 3
STRAUSS All mein’ Gedanken, Op. 21, No. 1
STRAUSS Morgen!, Op. 27, No. 4
STRAUSS Ich liebe dich, Op. 37, No. 2
Steven Blier, piano

April 18, 2004
HANDEL Ritorna, o caro e dolce mio tesoro from Rodelinda
HANDEL Mio caro bene! from Rodelinda
SCHUBERT Lachen und Weinen, D. 777
SCHUBERT Die Männer sind méchant, D. 866, No. 3
SCHUBERT Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
SCHUBERT Seligkeit, D. 433
BERG Seven Early Songs
PREVIN The Giraffes Go to Hamburg
RAVEL Shéhérazade
Mary Stolper, flute and alto flute
Richard Bado, piano

And be sure to catch Fleming with Evgeny Kissin in recital next season at Symphony Center, on Sunday, April 19, 2020!

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to the extraordinary violinist Gidon Kremer!

Gidon Kremer (Michael Benabib photo)

Gidon Kremer (Michael Benabib photo)

A frequent and favorite soloist in Chicago, the Ravinia Festival, and on tour, Kremer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, as follows:

November 26, 28, and 29, 1980, in Orchestra Hall
BERG Violin Concerto
Varujan Kojian, conductor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1992, in Orchestra Hall
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 2 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 129
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 13, 14, and 15, 1994, in Orchestra Hall
BERG Violin Concerto
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

August 12, 1994, at the Ravinia Festival
GLASS Violin Concerto
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

May 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1997, in Orchestra Hall
June 4 and 5, 1997, at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany
REIMANN Violin Concerto (world premiere)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Gidon Kremer (Alberts Linarts photo)

Gidon Kremer (Alberts Linarts photo)

October 21, 22, 23, adn 24, 1998, in Orchestra Hall
KANCHELI Lament (Music of Mourning in Memory of Luigi Nono)
Katharina Kammerloher, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 5, 6, and 7, 2005, in Orchestra Hall
SCHNITTKE Concerto grosso No. 6
SCHNITTKE Concerto grosso No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Kremer also has performed in Orchestra Hall on several other occasions, as a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and the Staatskapelle Berlin with Daniel Barenboim. As a chamber musician, he has appeared many times with his ensemble Kremerata Baltica, most recently on February 1, 2017.

Happy, happy birthday!

Moravec

The gifted Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, who appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, died earlier today, July 27, 2015. He was 84.

Moravec’s appearances with the Orchestra were as follows:

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980
FRANCK Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Garcia Navarro, conductor

January 7, 8, 9 & 12, 1988
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

November 12, 13, 14 & 17, 1998
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Yaron Traub, conductor
(Traub replaced Riccardo Chailly, who canceled due to illness.)

caption info

March 27, 28 & 29, 1980

According to an obituary in Gramophone, Moravec “focused on the ‘central’ Romantic repertoire as well as music by Czech composers. Talking to Bryce Morrison for Gramophone‘s March 2004 issue, Moravec said: ‘My own recordings are a distillation of years of work and listening, of having my tape recorder always at hand. I would agree with [Arthur] Rubinstein who after recording would listen to the playback and say, “Now I have my piano lesson.” But unlike Rubinstein my conception of the relatively few works I have recorded has not radically altered, has remained loyal to my first thoughts and feelings. I have always taken my time and although I have learned and practiced a large repertoire (Ravel’s Gaspard, Rachmaninov, etc.) I have never felt ready to play most of it in public. . . . Life is so short and I have concentrated on what I feel I do best.'”

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Theodore Thomas

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