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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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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

Prior to his being announced as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director designate in February 1989, Daniel Barenboim shared the podium with Sir Georg Solti on the Orchestra’s second trip to Asia in March and April 1986.

March 31, 1986 – Musashino Shimin Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 2, 1986 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 12, 1986 – City Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
WAGNER Excerpts from Götterdämmerung
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 3, 1986 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
April 5, 1986 – Toyota City Cultural Hall, Toyota, Japan
April 11, 1986 – City Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Following the final April 3 concert, John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Before a raptly submissive crowd in the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, [Barenboim] invested the Schubert Unfinished and Beethoven Eroica symphonies with extraordinary beauty and interpretive depth. Again, it is important to stress how greatly the audience’s involvement in the music-making, as shown by their intense silence and concentration, added to the effort that conductor and players were willing to put forth. Solti, who is rarely in the audience at a Chicago Symphony concert back home, attended Barenboim’s concert in Hong Kong Friday night and applauded as loudly as those seated around him. . . . His Unfinished, taken very deliberately, with a dynamic scale that often sank to a faint whisper, breathed an almost mystical resignation. Barenboim’s Eroica was tauter and faster in the outer movements than before—all the better to draw bolder expressive extremes, with a more consciously molded Funeral March whose grief was sublimated into stoic nobility.”

Barenboim again shared conducting duties with Solti on the Orchestra’s third trip to Japan in April 1990.

Poster advertising Solti’s April 18 and Barenboim’s April 21, 1990, concerts at Symphony Hall in Osaka

April 20, 1990 – Shimin Kaikan, Nagoya, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 21, 1990 – Symphony Hall, Osaka, Japan
April 23, 1990 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 22, 1990 – Izumity Hall 21, Sendai, Japan
April 26, 1990 – Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 25, 1990 – Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
TAKEMITSU Visions
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole
RAVEL Pavane pour une infante défunte
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
RAVEL Boléro
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Daniel Barenboim (Don Getsug photo)

On November 15, 2017, Daniel Barenboim—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director—will celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. To commemorate this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles highlighting many of his activities with the Orchestra, including recordings, international tours, world and U.S. premieres, and more.

Barenboim’s history in Chicago began on January 19, 1958, when the fifteen-year-old pianist first performed a solo recital in Orchestra Hall. When he returned that fall for a second engagement, he attended his first CSO concert that included sixth music director Fritz Reiner leading Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. In his autobiography A Life in Music, Barenboim recounted that, “nothing I had heard in Europe or elsewhere had prepared me for the shock of the precision, the volume, and the intensity of the Chicago orchestra. It was like a perfect machine with a beating human heart.”

Fritz Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 30 and 31, 1958

In June 1965, Barenboim made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn, and in February 1969, he first appeared with the Orchestra in Orchestra Hall in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez. He first conducted the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, at Michigan State University, and the first work on the program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré; a week later, they recorded it in Medinah Temple.

In February 1989, it was announced that Daniel Barenboim would succeed Sir Georg Solti to become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, beginning in the 1991-92 season.

Stay tuned!

This article also appears here.

Illustration by Pam Rossi

After more than three years of planning, building, testing, and fine-tuning, Symphony Center—a $120 million project that included a facility expansion and extensive renovation of Orchestra Hall—opened its doors twenty years ago today, on October 4, 1997, with an opening night gala concert.

Led by acousticians Kirkegaard Associates and architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the project encompassed additions and improvements to Orchestra Hall, including raising the roof line for increased sound reverberation, replacing plaster walls, decreasing the width and increasing the depth of the stage, adding an extensive riser system, replacing all seats and adding terrace seating behind the stage, installing an acoustic canopy (to improve onstage ensemble conditions and sound reflection to the audience), and increasing patron amenity spaces. In addition, the project included new administrative offices in the former Chapin & Gore building; Buntrock Hall, a multipurpose rehearsal and performance space; renovation of a private club (formerly the home of the Cliff Dwellers); and a multistory arcade and rotunda. The following year brought the opening of a new restaurant (originally Rhapsody and now tesori) and an education center.

Opening a three-week inaugural festival, the October 4 gala concert featured Daniel Barenboim leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the complete program was as follows:

Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center (Jim Steere photo)

ELGAR Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (performed in memory of Sir Georg Solti)
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello, Act 1
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
VERDI Niun mi tema from Otello, Act 4
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Daniel Barenboim, piano
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
William Warfield, narrator
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Rosemarie Lang, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Moser, tenor
Matthias Hölle, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

Natyakalalayam Dance Company performing in Symphony Center’s rotunda on October 5, 1997 (Jeff Meacham photo)

Natyakalalayam Dance Company performing in Symphony Center’s rotunda on October 5, 1997 (Jeff Meacham photo)

Midnight marked the beginning of the first Marshall Field’s Day of Music: twenty-four hours of free, live performances of music across all genres in multiple Symphony Center venues, attended by more than 20,000 people. The festival also launched the newly renamed Symphony Center Presents series (formerly Allied Arts, begun by Harry Zelzer in the 1930s), with concerts by Barenboim, Itzhak PerlmanPinchas Zukerman, Maurizio Pollini, and the Emerson String Quartet, along with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Joe WilliamsOscar Peterson, Marcus Roberts Trio, and a tribute celebrating the eightieth-birthday anniversary of Thelonious Monk (led by his son Thelonious Monk, Jr.).

October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

Sadly, the many celebrations were bittersweet. Music director laureate Sir Georg Solti—who, during the festival would have celebrated not only his eighty-fifth birthday but also his 1,000th concert with the Orchestra—had unexpectedly died on September 5, 1997. A special, free memorial concert was added on October 22 that included Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde, followed by Mozart’s Requiem with Emily Magee, Anna Larsson, John Aler, René Pape, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. A celebration concert was given on October 25, with Barenboim conducting Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto (from the keyboard) and the Seventh Symphony.

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

Sir Georg Solti (Yousuf Karsh photo)

As the summer of 1997 drew to a close, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association was putting the finishing touches on Symphony Center, culminating a three-year, $120 million project. To celebrate the renovation of Orchestra Hall and facilities expansion, a three-week festival was planned that included gala concerts and the first Day of Music, twenty-four hours of free, live performances across all genres in multiple Symphony Center venues.

One of the gala concerts was scheduled for Saturday, October 25, with music director laureate Sir Georg Solti leading the Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program: the Seventh Symphony and the Emperor Piano Concerto with music director Daniel Barenboim as soloist. The concert would celebrate not only Solti’s 85th birthday (October 21, 1997) but also his 1,000th concert with the Orchestra. In November, he was scheduled to return for two weeks of subscription concerts, leading Ives’s Decoration Day, Schumann’s Symphony no. 3, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3, along with a full program of choruses from Wagner’s operas with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, to be recorded live by London.

Over the Labor Day holiday, the world had been rocked with the news of the tragic death of Princess Diana on Sunday, August 31. The day before her funeral on September 5, news outlets began to report the death of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. And late that same evening, we heard the unthinkable. While on holiday with his family in Antibes, France, Sir Georg Solti had taken ill and died peacefully in his sleep.

Michigan Avenue entrance of Orchestra Hall on September 6, 1997 (Marilyn Arado photo)

“I had just returned hours earlier from Europe, where I was working with Daniel Barenboim on Solti’s 85th birthday celebration concert,” remembered Martha Gilmer, former vice president for artistic planning. After confirming with Charles Kaye, Solti’s longtime assistant, she called Barenboim in Bayreuth, waking him to relay the news.

“I was stunned,” recalled Henry Fogel, then president of the CSO Association. The following morning, senior staff held a meeting to determine how to proceed with the plans for the festival, among several other issues. As some of them approached the entrance, “We were very touched because when we came to Orchestra Hall, one person had left a bouquet of flowers at the Michigan Avenue entrance.”

Daniel Barenboim leads Mozart’s Requiem on October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

The festival would continue mostly as planned. The Symphony Center inaugural gala opened with Barenboim leading a performance of Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, performed in Solti’s memory. A special, free memorial concert was added on October 22 with Barenboim leading Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde, followed by Mozart’s Requiem with Emily Magee, Anna Larsson, John Aler, René Pape, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, prepared by Duain Wolfe.

Richard L. Thomas receives one of Solti’s batons from Lady Valerie Solti on October 25, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

The program for the celebration concert on October 25 changed slightly, and Barenboim led Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto from the keyboard along with the Seventh Symphony. At the beginning of the concert, Lady Valerie Solti presented Richard L. Thomas (chairman of the CSO Association from 1986 until 1991) with one of Solti’s batons.

A special commemorative program book for the memorial and celebration concerts was prepared, and it included tributes from President Bill Clinton, Illinois governor Jim Edgar, and Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, along with Solti’s colleagues from all over the world, members of the Orchestra, and administrative staff. The program book is available here.

The block of Adams Street between Michigan and Wabash avenues was named honorary Sir Georg Solti Place on October 24, 1997. The following spring (just before the beginning of the fifteenth European tour with concerts in Paris and Berlin), a small contingent of Orchestra family traveled to Budapest for a ceremony on March 28, 1998, in which Solti’s ashes were interred next to the grave of his teacher, Béla Bartók. During the ceremony, principal viola Charles Pikler performed Ravel’s Kaddish.

Fogel continued, “One thought that I did keep having was how sad it was that Maestro Solti would never see the renovated hall, with which I believe he would have been thrilled.”

“Solti, so vibrant, such energy, such magnetism, such a life force,” added Gilmer. “It was impossible to believe that it ended so quietly and in a place so far away. . . . He was a young 84-year-old and what occurred to all of us is that we had all been robbed of wonderful musical memories that were yet to be made.”

Decca Classics is releasing a 108-CD set of Sir Georg Solti’s entire catalog with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the United States on September 15, 2017. It can be pre-ordered here.

During Sir Georg Solti‘s tenure as eighth music director (1969–1991) and music director laureate (1991–1997), he and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus amassed an astonishing discography. Decca Classics—to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Solti’s death—is releasing a set of these complete recordings in a 108-CD boxed set.

“Recording with the Chicago Symphony was the fulfillment of Solti’s dreams and ambitions, to be able to record for posterity the ephemeral quality and emotions of a performance by this world-class ensemble,” writes Lady Valerie Solti in the accompanying book. “The orchestra were enthusiasts, hard workers, and brilliant musicians who were as eager as Solti to make first-class records and to create for the future a lasting document, a legacy of their wonderful relationship, a collaboration which won worldwide acclaim and unparalleled Grammy awards.” The 180-page hardcover book also includes articles by mezzo-soprano Yvonne Minton; producer and author Humphrey Burton; Martha Gilmer, who served as the Orchestra’s vice president for artistic planning during the latter half of Solti’s tenure; and CSO archivist Frank Villella; along with previously unpublished images from recording sessions.

The range of repertoire is vast: complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven (twice, see here and here), Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here); Beethoven’s piano concertos; world premieres of Del Tredici’s Final Alice and Tippett’s Symphony no. 4 and Byzantium; complete operas including Beethoven’s FidelioSchoenberg’s Moses und AronVerdi’s Otelloand Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The set also includes hallmarks of the choral repertoire, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe) performing Bach’s Mass in B minor and Saint Matthew PassionBeethoven’s Missa solemnisBerlioz’s The Damnation of FaustBrahms’s A German Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation (twice) and The Seasons, Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and Verdi’s Requiem, plus many more works by these composers along with Bartók, Berg, Debussy, Dohnányi, Dvořák, Kodály, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Weiner.

Solti leads the Orchestra in a recording session for Mahler’s Symphony no. 3 in November 1982 in Orchestra Hall (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

Solti wrote in his Memoirs, “My term as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was the happiest time in my professional life . . . the fulfillment of my dreams, but at the same time, it was a new learning experience for me, a master class in musical directorship.” This set is a testament to that remarkable partnership.

The set releases in the United States on September 15, 2017, and is available here.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded each of Brahms’s four symphonies multiple times and also has recorded the complete cycle on three different occasions. A complete listing is below.

During his tenure as Ravinia Festival music director, James Levine recorded the symphonies with the Orchestra for RCA at Medinah Temple. The recordings were produced by Thomas Z. Shepard and Paul Goodman was the recording engineer. Jay David Saks also co-produced the First Symphony, which was recorded in July 1975. The remaining three were recorded in July 1976.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti also led the Orchestra in sessions at Medinah Temple. For London, the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures) were produced by James Mallinson; Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The Third and Fourth symphonies were recorded in May 1978, and the First and Second were recorded in January 1979. The set won 1979 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Orchestral Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures and the Variations on a Theme by Haydn) live at Orchestra Hall for Erato. Vic Muenzer was producer, Lawrence Rock was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Konrad Strauss was the mastering engineer. All four symphonies were recorded live in 1993: the First and Third in May, the Fourth in September, and the Second in October.

Recordings of the individual symphonies by other conductors are listed below.

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Rafael Kubelík, conductor
Recorded by Mercury in Orchestra Hall in April 1952
David Hall, recording director
C. Robert Fine and George Piros engineers

Günter Wand, conductor
Recorded live for RCA in Orchestra Hall in January 1989
Norman Pellegrini and David Frost, producers
Mitchell Heller, recording engineer
John Purcell, post-production engineer

Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90

Frederick Stock, conductor
Recorded by Columbia in New York’s Liederkranz Hall in November 1940

Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall in December 1957
Richard Mohr, producer

Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel in Medinah Temple in October 1969
Peter Andry, producer
Carson Taylor, balance engineer

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Brahms’s four symphonies at Orchestra Hall in May. Details here and here.

Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

Wishing the happiest of (slightly belated) birthdays to the remarkable American bass Samuel Ramey, who celebrated his seventh-fifth on March 28!

The legendary singer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981

November 1, 2, and 4, 1984
MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Ruggero Raimondi, bass
Zehava Gal, mezzo-soprano
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Jennifer Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Langridge, tenor
Hartmut Welker, baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
Kaludi Kaludov, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Sergei Kopchak, bass
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
Bradley Nystrom, bass-baritone
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Dale Prest, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

November 16, 1986
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Ramey, Samuel; bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Gwynne Howell originally was scheduled to perform the bass part but canceled due to illness. He was replaced by Bonaldo Giaiotti on November 13 and 14 and Ramey on November 16.

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

June 23, 1989 (Ravinia Festival)
VERDI Messa da Requiem
James Levine, conductor
Andrea Gruber, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

October 6, 1990 (Centennial Gala)
BEETHOVEN Finale: Ode, “To Joy” from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

July 8, 2000 (Ravinia Fesitval)
Selections by Copland, Leigh, Loewe, Mozart, Rodgers, and Verdi
Miguel-Harth Bedoya, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Samuel Ramey, bass

July 2, 2005 (Ravinia Festival)
IBERT Chansons de Don Quichotte
RAVEL Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
James Conlon, conductor

August 15, and 17, 2008 (Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Don Giovanni, K. 527
James Conlon, conductor
Ellie Dehn, soprano
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Toby Spence, tenor
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, bass-baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
James Creswell, bass
Morris Robinson, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago
Stephen Alltop, director

Happy, happy birthday!

Riccardo Muti (Todd Rosenberg photo)

A recent Gramophone magazine article lists its fifty greatest conductors of all time, and several Chicago Symphony Orchestra titled conductors are prominently featured!

Current music director Riccardo Muti and former music directors Daniel BarenboimRafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, and Sir Georg Solti are squarely included, along with principal guest conductors Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, and Carlo Maria Giulini; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and Seiji Ozawa.

According to the article, “A great conductor illuminates music you thought you knew in a way that you couldn’t possibly have imagined.” Indeed.

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