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Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the wonderful Welsh bass, Gwynne Howell!

Gwynne Howell (Guy Gravett photo)

Howell has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions and on several award-winning recordings between 1974 and 1990. A complete list is below (concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted).

April 12 and 13, 1974
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Heather Harper, soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
Jerry Jennings, tenor
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

April 24 and 26, 1975
April 30, 1975 (Carnegie Hall)
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

January 29, 30, and 31, 1976
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Peter Pears, tenor
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Mallory Walker, tenor
Dominic Cossa, baritone
Werner Klemperer, narrator
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

May 5, 6, and 7, 1977
May 13, 1977 (Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The work was recorded in Chicago’s Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer and Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

May 10 and 12, 1979
May 19, 1979 (Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Fidelio, Op. 72
Hildegard Behrens, soprano
Sona Ghazarian, soprano
Peter Hofmann, tenor
David Kübler, tenor
Theo Adam, baritone
Hans Sotin, bass
Gwynne Howell, bass
Robert Johnson, tenor
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director
The opera was recorded at Medinah Temple on May 21, 22, 23, and 24, 1979. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer, Michael Haas was the assistant producer, and James Lock, David Frost, and Tony Griffiths were the engineers.

April 7, 9, and 12, 1983
April 18, 1983 (Carnegie Hall)
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass-baritone
Hermann Becht, baritone
Gabriele Schnaut, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Robert Tear, tenor
Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Malcolm Smith, bass
Gwynne Howell, bass
Mary Jane Johnson, soprano
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Dennis Bailey, tenor
Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Emily Golden, mezzo-soprano

September 27, 28, and 29, 1984
HANDEL Messiah
Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Anne Gjevang, contralto
Keith Lewis, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The work was recorded in Orchestra Hall on October 1, 2, and 9, 1984. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer, and James Lock and Simon Eadon were balance engineers.

January 25, 26, and 28, 1990
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Felicity Lott, soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
William Shimell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The work was recorded on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, in Orchestra Hall. For London Records, Michael Haas was the recording producer, and Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon were the balance engineers. The recording won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Performance of a Choral Work from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Check out the video below, produced by Wild Plum Arts, in which Howell talks about working with Solti and many others.

Happy, happy birthday!

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony were given on April 6 and 7, 1950, in Orchestra Hall under the baton of guest conductor George Szell. Since then, the work has been led by music directors Rafael Kubelík, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; principal guest conductors Carlo Maria Giulini and Pierre Boulez; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and James Conlon; along with guest conductors Sir John Barbirolli, Lawrence Foster, Michiyoshi Inoue, Hans Rosbaud, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Orchestra has recorded the work on three notable occasions, as follows.

Carlo Maria Giulini, the Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor, led Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in December 1971 and March 1975 before returning in April 1976 to perform and record the work. Following the first concert of that residency, Karen Monson in the Chicago Daily News wrote that “each time the aristocratic maestro meets the transcendent symphony, the relationship becomes more and more special, Giulini and the Orchestra have delved into the deepest secrets of this music, and Thursday evening they delivered a performance so rich and complete . . .”

In the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Willis called the performance “one of Giulini’s great nights in Orchestra Hall.” Recording sessions were scheduled for the following week, and “by the time the tape is rolling, this could be the most heartfelt and compelling recorded version of Mahler’s grief-stricken penultimate symphony. . . . The Chicago Symphony players will take any risks for Giulini. If he wishes them to play softer than soft, applying bow to string, or breath to mouthpiece or reed, they proceed to just this side of bobble or discomfiting silence. . . . No other guest has such control over orchestral color and emotional variation.”

Deutsche Grammophon was on hand on April 5 and 6, 1976, to record the symphony in Medinah Temple. Günther Breest was the executive producer and Klaus Scheibe the recording engineer. The release won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Classical Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti first led the Orchestra in Mahler’s symphony at Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall in April 1981 before taking it on the road to Lucerne, Paris, Amsterdam, and London later that year. Back in Chicago, Solti led a concert performance (benefiting the musicians’ pension fund) on April 28, 1982, and recorded the symphony on May 2 and 4 in Orchestra Hall.

Reviewing in Gramophone magazine, Richard Osborne noted: “When Solti conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in London in the autumn of 1981 the critic of The Financial Times observed: ‘Solti obviously knew how this music should gobut not why.’ Such a reading would be an evident act of self-parody, for it is to this very theme—the modern world’s nightmarish preoccupation with sensation, spiraling, self-referring and impossible to assuage—that Mahler so fearlessly addresses himself in the symphony’s third movement, the Rondo Burleske. It’s clear, though, from the present recording, made in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in May 1982, that Solti’s sense of the music is a good deal more rooted than it appeared to be amid the unsettling razzmatazz of an end-of-tour London performance.

“The new performance has a measure of repose about it as well as much splendour. The second movement is robust and resilient as Mahler directs. There is defiance and obstinacy in the third movement, an awful power which illuminates the music rather than the orchestra’s known expertise.”

James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock was the engineer for London Records. The recording won 1983 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Recording, Best Engineered Recording—Classical, and Best Classical Album.

Soon after being named as the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Pierre Boulez was in Chicago to lead four performances of Mahler’s Ninth in November December 1995.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma wrote that Boulez led “one of classical music’s most profound meditations on relentless death and tumultuous life” as a “study in musical clarity, elegant balances, and proportion. . . . Many conductors play up the contrasts, creating dramatic mood shifts. Boulez and the CSO were after something more subtle.” John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune added that Boulez “[filtered] the work through his own modernist sensibility. Granted, there are ambiguities and uncertainties in this symphony that resist so rational an approach. But there are also levels of purely musical meaning few other conductors have uncovered. The otherworldly stillnesses, the demonic humor, the desolate nostalgia, the strange lapses into folkish banality registered that much more strongly because the hand organizing them was so calm and precise. . . . Let us hope the studio sessions capture in full the splendor of the live performances.”

For Deutsche Grammophon, the work was recorded at Medinah Temple on December 2 and 4, 1995. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler recording producer and editor, Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were recording engineers. The release won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony no. 9 on May 17, 18, 19, and 22, 2018.

Irwin Hoffman

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the death of Irwin Hoffman, a titled conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1964 until 1970. Hoffman died yesterday at the age of 93.

On August 13, 1964, Merrill Shepard, then-president of The Orchestral Association, announced that Hoffman had been engaged as the CSO’s new assistant conductor, beginning with the 1964-65 season. Hoffman was to serve the Orchestra and assist music director Jean Martinon in a variety of capacities, including conducting rehearsals and concerts (including youth concerts), leading the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as new score review.

Hoffman’s debut program with the Orchestra was as follows:

December 17 & 18, 1964
VILLA-LOBOS Uirapurú
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 1
Victor Aitay, violin
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

Program book announcement from January 1968

Program book announcement from January 1968

Martinon promoted Hoffman to associate conductor the following year. He would serve in that capacity for three seasons, and in January 1968, Association president Louis Sudler announced that Hoffman would be acting music director for the 1968-69 season. (On December 17, 1968, the Association announced that Georg Solti would become the Orchestra’s eighth music director, beginning with the 1969-70 season.)

For the 1969-70 season, Hoffman’s title was conductor and he led several weeks of subscription and popular concerts. In subsequent seasons, he returned as a guest conductor and most recently led the Orchestra in January 1977 with the following program:

January 12, 13, 14 & 15, 1977
January 17, 1977 (Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee)
KAY Of New Horizons
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Esther Glazer, violin
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

Irwin Hoffman with score

Hoffman made his conducting debut at the age of seventeen with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Robin Hood Dell. He also studied at the Juilliard School and later with Serge Koussevitzky at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Hoffman has held titled positions with several orchestras, including the Grant Park Music Festival; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Martha Graham Dance Company; Florida Gulf Coast Symphony, later the Florida Orchestra; Bogotá Philharmonic in Colombia; Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra; and the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra in Chile.

Kurt Loft of the Florida Orchestra has posted a beautiful tribute here.

Under the leadership of chorus directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won ten Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Choral Performance.*

Recordings have been led by music directors Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, and Ravinia Festival music director James Levine on RCA, London, Deutsche Grammophon, and CSO Resound.

1977 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer

1978 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977, for London
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes, balance engineers

1979 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot, balance engineers

1982 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
James Lock and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1983 – Best Choral Performance
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano
Norma Burrowes, soprano
Rudiger Wohlers, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Frank Miller, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 9, 10, and 11, 1981, for London
Paul Myers, recording producer
James Lock and John Dunkerley, balance engineers

1984 – Best Choral Performance
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
James Levine, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 5 and 6, 1983, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer
John Newton and Thomas MacCluskey, engineers

1986 – Best Choral Performance
ORFF Carmina burana
James Levine, conductor
June Anderson, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon
Steven Paul, producer
Cord Garben, recording supervisor
Klaus Scheibe, recording engineer
Jürgen Bulgrin, editing

1991 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Felicity Lott, soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
William Shimmell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Richard Webster, organ
John Sharp, cello
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, for London
Michael Haas, recording producer
Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1993 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BARTÓK Cantata profana
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon
Alison Ames, executive producer
Karl-August Naegler, recording producer
Rainer Maillard, balance engineer
Oliver Rosalla, editing

2010 – Best Choral Performance
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, for CSO Resound
Christopher Alder, producer
Christopher Willis, recording engineer
David Frost and Tom Lazarus, mixing
Silas Brown and David Frost, stereo mastering

*The name of the category has changed slightly over the years; see here for details.

Wishing a very happy ninetieth birthday to the wonderful mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig!

Christa Ludwig in 1967 as Fricka in Wagner’s Die Walküre (Metropolitan Opera photo)

Ludwig has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and Carnegie Hall, as follows (concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

February 20, 21, and 25, 1958
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Richard Lewis, tenor

October 26 and 27, 1967
MAHLER Songs from Des knaben Wunderhorn
Alfred Wallenstein, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano

July 7, 1970 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
István Kertész, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano

April 24, 25, and 26, 1980
May 2 and 3, 1980 (Carnegie Hall)
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Christa Ludwig in 2014 (Ernst Kainerstorfer photo)

April 25, 26, and 27, 1985
April 29, 1985 (Carnegie Hall)
VERDI Falstaff
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Guillermo Sarabia, baritone
Wolfgang Brendel, baritone
Yordi Ramiro, tenor
Heinz Zednik, tenor
Francis Egerton, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass
Katia Ricciarelli, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 5, 1991 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to John Corigliano!

The recipient of numerous honors—including a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, the Grawemeyer Award, and multiple Grammy awards—Corigliano served as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence from 1987 until 1990.

The Orchestra first performed Corigliano’s Concerto for Piano in February 1969, with Sheldon Shkolnik as soloist and acting music director Irwin Hoffman on the podium. Under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, the Orchestra performed the Concerto for Clarinet with Larry Combs, as well as the Tournaments Overture on concerts in Orchestra Hall and during the 1985 tour to Europe, performing the work in Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, and London.

On March 15, 1990, music director designate Daniel Barenboim led the world premiere of Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, jointly commissioned for the Orchestra’s centennial by the Chicago Symphony and the Meet-the-Composer Orchestra Residencies Program.

“During the past decade I have lost many friends and colleagues to the AIDS epidemic, and the cumulative effect of those losses has, naturally, deeply affected me. My First Symphony was generated by feelings of loss, anger, and frustration,” wrote Corigliano in the program note for the premiere. “A few years ago, I was extremely moved when I first saw ‘The Quilt,’ an ambitious interweaving of several thousand fabric panels, each memorializing a person who had died of AIDS, and, most importantly, each designed and constructed by his or her loved ones. This made me want to memorialize in music those I have lost, and reflect on those I am losing.”

The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—featured principal cello John Sharp and, offstage, pianist Stephen Hough. The recording was recognized with two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition. Barenboim programmed the symphony again in 1992, also taking it on tour to Carnegie Hall, Madrid, and London.

Corigliano’s First Symphony also has been performed at the Ravinia Festival under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach in 1996 and Marin Alsop in 2003; Eschenbach also led performances in Orchestra Hall in 1998.

With the Orchestra, Neeme Järvi conducted the Pied Piper Fantasy with Sir James Galway; Eschenbach led The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra with Joshua BellWilliam Eddins conducted Phantasmagoria on The Ghosts of Versailles; and Leonard Slatkin has led Three Hallucinations, Fantasia on an Ostinato, and The Mannheim Rocket.

To celebrate Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday in 1987, associate conductor Kenneth Jean led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Corigliano’s Campane di RavelloWritten while on vacation in Ravello, Italy, the composer remarked, “On Sundays, the multitude of churches in Ravello and the surrounding towns play their bells, each in a different key and rhythm. The cacophony is gorgeous, and uniquely festive. My tribute to Sir Georg attempts to make the sections of the symphony orchestra sound like pealing bells: that tolling, filigreed with birdcalls in the woodwinds, provides the backdrop for a theme that grows more and more familiar as it is clarified. At the end, it is clear and joyous—a tribute to a great man.”

Jean also led the work on the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990, and current music director Riccardo Muti conducted it on September 19, 2015, on the Symphony Ball concert launching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 125th season.

Corigliano and Stephanie Jeong at the Harris Theater on October 2, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

MusicNOW, the Orchestra’s contemporary music series, kicked off its twentieth season on October 2, 2017, at the Harris Theater with a concert celebrating past composers-in-residence. Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek honored their predecessors by programming works by Anna Clyne, Osvaldo Golijov, and Mark-Anthony Turnage, along with—in attendance—Mason Bates, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, and Corigliano.

CSO violins Yuan-Qing Yu and Hermine Gagné, viola Danny Lai, and cello Kenneth Olsen performed Corigliano’s A Black November Turkey (in the composer’s string quartet arrangement), and violin Stephenie Jeong soloed in the Red Violin Caprices. The Chicago Classical Review’s Lawrence A. Johnson observed, “Jeong delivered a powerful tour de force performance, sensitively serving the pages of introspective melancholy and throwing off Corigliano’s artful retake on nineteenth-century Paganini-esque fiddle fireworks with blazing virtuosity and panache. It was wonderful to see the veteran composer join the CSO’s young associate concertmaster for a double curtain call.”

And next season, in January 2019, Thomas Hampson will perform the song “One Sweet Morning” from Corigliano’s song cycle One Sweet Morning, commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bramwell Tovey will conduct.

Happy, happy birthday!

Alan Stout in 1971

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family notes with sorrow the passing of Alan Stout, composer and longtime composition and theory professor at Northwestern University. Stout died yesterday, February 1, 2018, at the age of 85.

Stout’s music was first performed by the Orchestra on two concerts given at Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium on May 29 and 31, 1967, when Esther Glazer was soloist in Movements for Violin and Orchestra with Henry Lewis conducting. Soon thereafter, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented four world premieres by Stout, under the batons of Seiji Ozawa, Sir Georg Solti, and Margaret Hillis, at the Ravinia Festival and in Orchestra Hall.

On August 4, 1968, Ozawa led the world premiere of Stout’s Symphony no. 2 at Ravinia. The work was commissioned by the Ravinia Festival Association through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, and the performance was made possible by a Composer Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

World premiere of Stout’s Second Symphony at the Ravinia Festival on August 4, 1968

The symphony was “vivid [and] multi-dimensional . . . a collection of musical rituals,” according to Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune. “The work is a marvelous tapestry of textures, combining a superior craftsmanship, a remarkable ear, and encyclopedic knowledge of the inventions of his colleagues, [including] Messiaen, Penderecki, Elliott Carter, and Pierre Boulez . . .”

The composer’s Symphony no. 4 was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in celebration of its eightieth season and dedicated to Georg Solti, who led the world premiere performances on April 15, 16, and 17, 1971. The score calls for a small chorus, and members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus were prepared by assistant director Ronald Schweitzer.

The following year, Solti also led the world premiere of Stout’s George Lieder (Poems from Das neue Reich) on December 14, 15, and 16, 1972, with baritone Benjamin Luxon as soloist.

Composer and conductor review the score of the George Lieder in December 1972 (Terry’s photo)

Stout’s large-scale Passion for Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts and was dedicated to Margaret Hillis and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Hillis led the world premiere performances on April 15, 16, and 17, 1976. Soloists included Mary Sauer on organ, Elizabeth Buccheri on piano, along with soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, tenors Frank Little and John McCollum, baritones Leslie Guinn and LeRoy Lehr, and bass Monroe Olson.

The premiere of Stout’s Passion, on which the composer worked for over twenty years, was a “monumental undertaking [and] provided the most difficult music the Chorus has undertaken since Fritz Reiner brought Margaret Hillis here in 1957 to found the now internationally known ensemble,” wrote Willis in the Chicago Tribune. “Stout fashions his church Latin text into curtains and tapestries of sound. Like a sonic aurora borealis, they expand and contract as needed, supplying intimate but still objective commentary on an emotional-laden event, creating towering climaxing as the peak points of the action, or providing canopies of tightly woven, often contrapuntal sheets of sound against which other portions of the action can take place.”

Detail from the first section of Stout’s Passion, with markings by Margaret Hillis

 

Title page for the first printed edition of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Guest conductor George Szell led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on December 2 and 3, 1948, almost exactly four years following the work’s premiere on December 1, 1944, with Serge Koussevitzky leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the Chicago Daily News, Clarence Joseph Bulliet called the work, “violent and awesome in its contrasts, sometimes as stormy as the most sensational of modern music. Then it calmed down to rival in delicacy the classicism of Haydn and Beethoven between which it was programmed at Orchestra Hall Thursday night.” (Haydn’s Oxford Symphony opened the concert, followed by the Bartók and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, that featured the debut of Seymour Lipkin.) Felix Borowski, writing for the Chicago Sun, added, that Bartók’s Concerto was, “of more than ordinary worth . . . Modern, indeed it is, but there are ideas—often very beautiful ideas—in the course of it. The orchestration is rich and colorful, frequently with new and beguiling textures.”

Early in his tenure as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner first led the Orchestra in his friend and countryman’s work on October 13 and 15, 1955. “This wonderful score, a network of nerves spun and controlled by the most brilliant of nervous energies, was played as only great orchestras can play,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It is a superb work and a Reiner triumph.”

The following week, Reiner and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc on October 22; for RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton the recording engineer. In February 2016, Gramophone listed this release as one of the “finest recordings of Bartók’s music,” noting the “sheer fervour of Reiner’s direction . . . taut and agile . . . [his] precision and control is immediately apparent.”

The Orchestra has since recorded the work on five additional occasions, as follows:

During his year as principal conductor of the Ravinia Festival, Seiji Ozawa recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on June 30 and July 1, 1969, for AngelPeter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer. Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti conducted the Concerto for London on January 19 and 20, 1981, in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson was the producer and James Lock the balance engineer.

James Levine, Ravinia’s second music director, led sessions in Orchestra Hall on June 28, 1989, for Deutsche Grammophon. Steven Paul was executive producer, Christopher Alder the recording producer, and Gregor Zielinsky was balance engineer. During the 1990 tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Austria, Solti conducted the Orchestra in an all-Bartók program, video recorded at the Budapest Convention Centre on November 28, 1990, for London. Humphrey Burton directed the production, and Katya Krausova was producer, Eric Abraham the executive producer, and Michael Haas the audio producer.

Most recently, Pierre Boulez recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on November 30, 1992, for Deutsche Grammophon. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler the recording producer, Rainer Maillard the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Reinhild Schmidt were recording engineers. The release won 1994 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.

Guest conductor Rafael Payare makes his subscription concert debut leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on January 18 and 20, 2018.

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

Luggage sticker for the 1992 tour to Europe

During his first season as the Chicago Symphony’s ninth music director, Daniel Barenboim led the Orchestra’s eighth European tour in April 1992, with stops in England, France, Germany, and Spain.

April 7, 1992 – Auditorio Nacional, Madrid, Spain
April 14, 1992 – Théâtre du Chatelet, Paris, France
April 15, 1992 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
April 16, 1992 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 8, 1992 – Auditorio Nacional, Madrid, Spain
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 543
CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

Barenboim and the Orchestra rehearse Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 17 at the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid on April 7, 1992 (Agustin Muñoz photo)

April 10, 1992 – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 543
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

April 11, 1992 – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1
WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 13, 1992 – Théâtre du Chatelet, Paris, France
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 543
WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor

Music director laureate Sir Georg Solti and Barenboim shared conducting duties with the Orchestra at the 1992 Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Solti led concerts on June 6 and 8, and Barenboim conducted one concert on June 7.

The Orchestra appeared at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 1992, during Sir Georg Solti’s first of three seasons as artistic director.

June 7, 1992 – Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
LISZT A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy
Anna Korondi, soprano
Women of the Arnold Schoenberg Choir
Erwin Ortner, director
WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

For the Orchestra’s tenth trip to Europe in 1993, Solti opened the tour by leading a single concert in Salzburg on May 29, during his second season as artistic director of the Whitsun Festival. Barenboim took the baton for the remaining two concerts in Austria and then on to Spain for stops in Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago, and Valencia.

May 30, 1993 – Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
June 2, 1993 – Auditorio Nacional, Madrid, Spain
June 8, 1993 – Palau de la Música, Valencia, Spain
HAYDN Symphony No. 48 in C Major (Maria Theresa)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Sir Georg Solti and Barenboim in Salzburg on May 29, 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

May 31, 1993 – Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
June 5, 1993 – Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago, Spain
June 9, 1993 – Palau de la Música, Barcelona, Spain
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 3, 1993 – Auditorio Nacional, Madrid, Spain
June 6, 1993 – Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago, Spain
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Barenboim opened the Orchestra’s eleventh European tour in Berlin, followed by Solti leading two concerts in Salzburg during his final season as Whitsun Festival artistic director. Barenboim and the Orchestra then traveled on to Vienna, Frankfurt, Paris, Cologne, and London.

Barenboim and the Orchestra in Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

May 19, 1994 – Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
DEBUSSY La mer
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 21, 1994 – Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in in D Major, Op. 73
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program book for the May 25, 1994, concert at the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna

May 25, 1994 – Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
DEBUSSY La mer
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 26, 1994 – Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
DEBUSSY La mer
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 27, 1994 – Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in in D Major, Op. 73
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 29, 1994 – Le Châtelet Théâtre Musical, Paris, France
CARTER Partita
DEBUSSY La mer
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in in D Major, Op. 73
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Program page for the May 31 and June 1, 1994, concerts at the Philharmonie in Cologne

May 31, 1994 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
June 1, 1994 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
CARTER Partita
DEBUSSY La mer
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 2, 1994 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
June 3, 1994 – Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 4, 1994 – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
CARTER Partita
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in in D Major, Op. 73
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

For the Orchestra’s fourth tour to Asia, Barenboim and the ensemble traveled to Japan for concerts in Hamamatsu, Niigata, Osaka, Takamatsu, and Tokyo. Principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez led one concert in Tokyo with Barenboim at the piano.

May 26, 1995 – Act City, Hamamatsu, Japan
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Luggage sticker for the 1995 tour to Japan

May 27, 1995 – Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo, Japan
SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
BOULEZ Notations for Orchestra I-IV
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 29, 1995 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
CARTER Partita
LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole
RAVEL Boléro
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 30, 1995 – Kenmin Hall, Niigata, Japan
June 3, 1995 – Kagawa Kenmin Hall, Takamatsu, Japan
June 6, 1995 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

May 31, 1995 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
WEBERN Passacaglia, Op. 1
WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Daniel Barenboim, piano
BERIO Sinfonia
Swingle Singers
Pierre Boulez, conductor

June 2, 1995 – Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan
June 5, 1995 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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