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To commemorate Ludwig van Beethoven‘s 249th birthday, we’re sharing a new video that describes one of the most precious artifacts in the Theodore Thomas collection in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Rosenthal Archives—a bronze life mask of one of music’s greatest composers.

Beethoven was the favorite composer of Theodore Thomas, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s founder and first music director. Thomas programmed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on the Chicago Orchestra’s very first concerts in October 1891 and for the first concert in Orchestra Hall when it opened in December 1904. Among Thomas’s collection, there are four marked scores of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, along with this life mask of the composer.

The mask is cast in bronze from an original mold made in 1812 by Franz Klein, a sculptor who had been commissioned by Nannette and Andreas Streicher, Viennese piano makers and good friends of Beethoven.

Life mask of Ludwig van Beethoven in front of Franz Breitkopf’s portrait of Theodore Thomas on the eighth floor of the Richard & Helen Thomas Club at Symphony Center (Todd Rosenberg photo)

So, here we are in 1812. Politically, this was a time of huge uncertainty: Napoleon had failed in his invasion of Russia and war was engulfing Europe. Vienna was extremely tense and Beethoven was its most famous citizen, even though the composer was nearly deaf and had stopped performing in public.

By then, he had finished some of his pivotal works: the Emperor piano concerto, the Archduke Trio, and the Seventh and Eighth symphonies. Also, it is believed that he wrote the letters to his “immortal beloved” during the summer of 1812, and he was about to enter into a time of declining health, strained relationships with his family, and intense personal isolation.

So, this mask is the face of a man who was leaving behind the vision that made him the most famous musician alive and a few years later would produce some of the most profound music ever written.

But back to the artifact. For the mold, the technique Klein used involved lubricating the skin with oil, placing a straw in each nostril, and applying a thick liquid plaster over the subject’s entire face. The mold was used to create a bust, and the original remained in the possession of the Streicher family until the early part of the twentieth century, when it was given to the Historical Art Museum of the city of Vienna.

Life mask of Ludwig van Beethoven (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Several copies of the life mask and the sculpture were produced later in the nineteenth century, and this bronze version of the mask in Thomas’s collection is likely one of those copies.

Since Beethoven rarely had the patience to sit for portraits, artists would frequently look to Klein’s sculpture as reference instead. Another mold was taken two days after he died in 1827, of course, a death mask, but this mask remains the most accurate likeness of the composer during his lifetime.

Special thanks to Rachel Aka for video editing and Todd Rosenberg for contemporary photography.

In 1891, Theodore Thomas founded the Chicago Orchestra and served as its first music director for nearly fourteen years. But in 1864, he also founded an eponymous ensemble—the Theodore Thomas Orchestra—and for nearly three decades, they traveled around the United States, giving concerts from coast to coast.

Schedule for the Theodore Thomas Orchestra’s 1872-73 tour (* indicates concerts with Rubinstein and Wieniawski)

One of Thomas’s orchestra’s most extensive tours—with stops in Connecticut; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Michigan; Missouri; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; and Wisconsin—was given between September 1872 and April 1873, culminating in a series of concerts in New York’s Steinway Hall. And for the last leg of the tour, Thomas was joined by pianist Anton Rubinstein and violinist Henryk Wieniawski.

“These great artists were the leading exponents of their respective instruments,” wrote Rose Fay Thomas in her husband’s Memoirs, “and Thomas knew that the houses would be sold out wherever they played. Consequently, he was able to make the programs without any consideration for the box office, and he was not slow to take advantage of it . . . It was the first time in his life that Thomas had permitted himself to make a series of programs exactly in accordance with his artistic standards . . . and this two weeks of great performance, in association with two of the most renowned executant musicians who ever came to America, was an inspiration to him such as he had never before enjoyed.”

Henryk Wieniawski

Shortly before ending the tour in New York, three concerts were given in Chicago. The programs were as follows:

March 17, 1873, Michigan Avenue Baptist Church
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
RUBINSTEIN Piano Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 70
Anton Rubinstein, piano
MENDELSSOHN First Movement from Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Henryk Wieniawski, violin
LISZT Les préludes
HANDEL Air and Variations from Suite No. 5 in E Major (The Harmonious Blacksmith), MOZART Rondo, BACH Gigue, and SCARLATTI Sonate
Anton Rubinstein, piano
ERNST Fantasie brillante, Op. 11 (Otello)
Henryk Wieniawski, violin
WEBER Overture to Der Freischütz

March 18, 1873, Union Park Congregational Church
CHERUBINI Overture to Les deux journées
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Anton Rubinstein, piano
BERLIOZ Part 2 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Henryk Wieniawski, violin
SCHUMANN Carnaval, Op. 9
Anton Rubinstein, piano
WAGNER Huldigungsmarsch

Anton Rubinstein

“Those who had the good fortune to hear [Rubinstein in the Emperor concerto] will long remember it, not only as one of the grandest of Beethoven’s compositions, but as the most superb musical performance ever heard in this city,” wrote the critic in the Chicago Tribune. “Wieniawski created a perfect furore by his masterly playing of his own violin concerto, which culminated in a very emphatic encore, to which replied with Paganini’s Carnival of Venice, which was such a marvel of technique that it called out even the loudest applause of the orchestra itself. . . . As a whole, the concert was the best ever given in this city.”

March 19, 1873, Aiken’s Theatre
SCHUMANN Overture to Genoveva, Op. 81
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Anton Rubinstein, piano
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Henryk Wieniawski, violin
BEETHOVEN Finale from The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
WAGNER Overture to Rienzi
MENDELSSOHN Songs Without Words and CHOPIN Nocturne and Ballad
Anton Rubinstein, piano
WIENIAWSKI Legende, Op. 17 and Airs russes, Op. 6
Henryk Wieniawski, violin
LISZT Hungarian March

In a letter to William Steinway of Steinway & Sons (who had sponsored the tour), Wieniawski wrote, “I shall take away with me from America one unexpected reminiscence. Little did I dream to find here the greatest and finest orchestra in the wide world. I have been in Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and all the great European art centers, but never in my life have I found an orchestra and a conductor so in sympathy with one anther, or who followed me as the most gifted accompanist can follow a singer on the piano.”

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

Ray Chen is soloist in Wieniawski’s First Violin Concerto on December 5, 6, 7, and 10, 2019. John Storgårds conducts.

March 31, April 1, 2, and 3, 1873, concerts at Steinway Hall in New York

March 31 and April 1, 1873

April 2 and 3, 1873

Theodore Thomas in the 1860s

There are conflicting accounts as to when Theodore Thomas—the Chicago Orchestra’s founder and first music director—made his debut as a conductor. Mostly self-taught on the violin, as a young teenager he toured the U.S. on his own, concertizing as a soloist. Returning to New York in the early 1850s, he performed as a member and leader of several theater, opera, and concert orchestras, working with Karl Eckert and Louis Jullien.

The name of nineteen-year-old Thomas first appeared on the roster of the New York Philharmonic Society at the beginning of its twelfth season on November 26, 1853, and early the following year, he was formally invited to be a first violin in the ensemble.

Based on a variety of sources, his conducting debut might have been in 1858 for Bernard Ullmann’s opera company. In April 1859, he was a last-minute replacement for conductor Karl Anschütz at the Academy of Music in New York for a performance of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, and three weeks later, he was reengaged for the composer’s La favorite; both operas featured Marietta Gazzaniga (who had created the title role in Verdi’s Luisa Miller in 1849 and Lina in Stiffelio in 1850). On December 7, 1860, Thomas again replaced Anschütz at the Academy, leading Halévy’s La Juive, having never before seen the score.

First-chair horn part to Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman (Theodore Thomas collection)

However, Thomas’s debut on an orchestral podium is well documented. On May 13, 1862, the twenty-six-year-old conductor programmed and led his first symphony orchestra concert (with a few more than forty musicians) at Irving Hall in New York. The program featured no less than four U.S. premieres(*), including the overture to Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman:

  • *Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman
  • Apell’s Lord, Be Thou with Us with the Teutonia Choral Society
  • *Liszt’s orchestration of Schubert’s Fantasy in C major, D. 760 (Wanderer) with pianist William Mason
  • Rossini’s “Bel raggio lusinghier” from Semiramide with soprano Eugénie de Lussan
  • The first movement of Molique’s Violin Concerto no. 5 in A minor, op. 21 with violinist Bruno Wollenhaupt
  • *Moscheles’s Les contrastes, for two pianos (eight hands) with pianists Mills, Goldbeck, Hartmann, and Mason
  • Verdi’s “Ernani, Ernani involami” from Ernani with de Lussan
  • *Meyerbeer’s Overture and Incidental Music from Struensee with the Teutonia Choral Society and harp obbligato (not credited)

The reception of Wagner’s overture was mixed. The reviewer in the New York World wrote, “Most of the audience expected dreary wastes of dissonant harmony and were agreeably surprised to find not merely defined ideas but actual bits of melody.” However, the New York Daily Tribune disagreed: “Ghastly rumpus was its main feature.”

Cello part to Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman (Theodore Thomas collection)

According to Thomas’s biographer Ezra Schabas, Irving Hall was “only three-quarters full . . . there was speculation that the one-dollar admission price was too high.” Despite the attendance, the New York Daily Transcript hailed the concert as, “undoubtedly the most intellectual and artistic musical offering of the season.”

Two years later in 1864, Thomas founded his eponymous ensemble—the Theodore Thomas Orchestra—and toured throughout the country for the next twenty-five years. He also served as music director of both the Brooklyn Philharmonic (1866–1891) and the New York Philharmonic (1877–1891) before leading the Chicago Orchestra as its founder and first music director from 1891 until 1905.

Theodore Thomas’s autobiography is available here, and his Memoirs (edited by his widow, Rose Fay Thomas) here.

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman on November 7, 9, and 12, 2019. 

Theodore Thomas in 1876 (J. Gurney & Son photo)

Wishing a very happy birthday to our founder and first music director Theodore Thomas on the occasion of his 184th birthday!

“During his musical career, Theodore Thomas conducted more than ten thousand concerts, and on a majority of his programs, he placed a work by Beethoven. Nevertheless, it was his invariable rule to study each work anew whenever he gave it, and he was so particular in regard to everything that concerned the music of Beethoven that I have known him to spend an entire evening verifying the opus number of a Beethoven quartet before he would copy it on a program for the printer.”

—excerpt from the preface to Talks About Beethoven’s Symphonies by Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock, edited by Rose Fay Thomas, 1930.

“The man who does not know Shakespeare is to be pitied; and the man who does not understand Beethoven and has not been under his spell has not half lived his life.”

—excerpt from the epigraph to Theodore Thomas: A Musical Autobiography by Theodore Thomas, edited by George P. Upton, 1905.

Happy, happy birthday!

Title page of Beethoven’s Third Symphony (Fritz Reiner collection)

Regarding the Third Symphony, “Beethoven, now fully emancipated from the preceding era, may be said for the first time to stand forth and show his lion’s paw!” wrote Theodore Thomas, the Chicago Orchestra‘s founder and first music director, in Talks About Beethoven’s Symphonies. “In my judgment, the Eroica is only a perfectly legitimate step forward, a logical sequence in his normal development. . . . His soul now began to long to express that which had never before been said in music—anticipating centuries; hence this symphony, the first dawn of modern music, written in a definite mood, giving expression to the soul through color and contrast rather than attempting to illustrate a specific program.”

1954 recording (RCA)

“The Eroica is perhaps the first great symphony to have captured the romantic imagination,” according to CSOA scholar-in-residence and program annotator Phillip Huscher. “Beethoven’s vast and powerful first movement and the funeral march that follows must have sounded like nothing else in all music. Never before had symphonic music aspired to these dimensions. . . . Beethoven’s Allegro con brio was longer—and bigger, in every sense—than any other symphonic movement at the time (the first movement of Mozart’s Prague Symphony comes the closest). It’s also a question of proportion, and Beethoven’s central development section, abounding in some truly monumental statements, is enormous.”

Thomas first led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Third Symphony during the first season, on January 12, 1892, at The Odeon in Cincinnati and later that week in Chicago on January 15 and 16 at the Auditorium Theatre.

1973–74 recording (London)

Sixth music director Fritz Reiner led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first commercial recording of the work in Orchestra Hall on December 4, 1954. For RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer.

Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus first recorded Beethoven’s nine symphonies between May 1972 and September 1974 for London Records. The recordings were ultimately released as a set (along with three overtures: Egmont, Coriolan, and Leonore no. 3); that set won the 1975 Grammy Award for Classical Album of the Year from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Third Symphony was recorded at Medinah Temple on November 5, 6, and 9, 1973, and May 18, 1974. Ray Minshull was the recording producer, and Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock were the balance engineers.

1989 recording (London)

Between September 1986 and January 1990, Solti and the Orchestra and Chorus recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies a second time, again for London Records; and again, the recordings were ultimately released as a set (along with two overtures: Egmont and Leonore no. 3). The Third Symphony was recorded in Orchestra Hall on May 6 and 8, 1989. Michael Haas was the recording producer and Stanley Goodall was the balance engineer.

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Consecration of the House Overture and Symphonies nos. 1 and 3 on September 26, 27, and 28, 2019.

Title page of Beethoven’s First Symphony (Fritz Reiner collection)

In Beethoven’s First Symphony, “the composer tries his wings,” according to Theodore Thomas, the Chicago Orchestra‘s founder and first music director. In Talks About Beethoven’s Symphonies, Thomas continues: “It is sometimes said that the First Symphony is Haydn and Mozart rather than Beethoven, but that is not correct. It is Beethoven, pure and simple, but Beethoven carrying on the art of his day as it had been transmitted to him by his predecessors. He knew no other style of symphonic writing because, until his own later development, there was no other. . . . One might say that Haydn and Mozart were the cradle in which the art of Beethoven was rocked, and in the First Symphony, his art was still in this cradle. . . . [The First Symphony] is a noble work and is of especial interest as the connecting link between the art of the classic and that of the romantic period.”

1961 recording (RCA)

CSOA scholar-in-residence and program annotator Phillip Huscher agrees. “As the first symphony by the greatest symphonist who ever lived, one might expect clues of the daring and novelty to come; since it was written at the turn of the century and premiered in Vienna, the great musical capital, in 1800, one might assume that it is with this work that Beethoven opened a new era in music. But, in fact, this symphony belongs to the eighteenth, not the nineteenth, century; it honors the tradition of Mozart, dead less than a decade, and Haydn, who had given Beethoven enough lessons to know that his student would soon set out on his own.”

Thomas first led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s First Symphony during the third season, on May 4 and 5, 1894, at the Auditorium Theatre.

1974 recording (London)

Sixth music director Fritz Reiner led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first commercial recording of the work in Orchestra Hall on May 8, 1961. For RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton was the recording engineer.

Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus first recorded Beethoven’s nine symphonies between May 1972 and September 1974 for London Records. The recordings were ultimately released as a set (along with three overtures: Egmont, Coriolan, and Leonore no. 3); that set won the 1975 Grammy Award for Classical Album of the Year from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The First Symphony was recorded at Medinah Temple on May 13, 14, 15, and 18, 1974 (along with the Second Symphony). Ray Minshull was the recording producer, and Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock were the balance engineers.

1989-90 recording (London)

Between September 1986 and January 1990, Solti and the Orchestra and Chorus recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies a second time, again for London Records; and again, the recordings were ultimately released as a set (along with two overtures: Egmont and Leonore no. 3). The First Symphony was recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 14 and 16, 1989, and January 27, 1990 (along with the Second Symphony). Michael Haas was the recording producer and Stanley Goodall was the balance engineer.

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Consecration of the House Overture and Symphonies nos. 1 and 3 on September 26, 27, and 28, 2019.

Theodore and Rose Fay Thomas in 1903

Wishing our friends at The Anti-Cruelty Society a very happy 120th anniversary! And a tip of the hat to the society’s first president, Rose Fay Thomas, wife of Theodore Thomas, founder and first music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

During Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, nearly twenty-eight million people visited our fair city, to “marvel at man’s progress and visions for the future,” according to the society’s website. “Yet the utopian ephemeral White City was a sharp contrast to the poorer neighborhoods that lay a short distance from the fairgrounds. The United States was in the midst of an economic depression. Hoards of immigrants, spurred by the industrial revolution, flocked to Chicago and other urban centers in search of work only to find themselves poor, starving, and huddled in crowded tenements. Raw sewage ran through the streets and epidemics of typhoid and other diseases often ravaged the city. The social unrest that would lead to the deadly Pullman Strike in 1894 was on the rise.

“As the century drew to a close, this grim climate and a deepening fear of these growing urban masses lead to the rise of progressive social reforms in Chicago and other urban centers. The middle and upper class women of the day were the driving force of this movement. Since the rise of the Suffrage movement in the 1850s, many women had become increasingly dissatisfied with their designated place in society and wished to play a more active role in bringing about needed change. In Chicago, many such women took the lead in establishing ground breaking social institutions and reforms. Jane Addams opened Hull House in 1889 to provide social services to immigrants and the working poor. Chicago’s women’s clubs formed charitable organizations and reform committees in response to the needs of the city’s poor, neglected and abused. In 1899 a small group of Chicago women turned their attention to a forgotten group of suffering creatures—the city’s animal population.

Rose Fay and Dickey, the Thomas family’s Springer Spaniel, in the late 1890s (George Glessner photo, courtesy of Glessner House collections)

“These humanitarians faced an uphill struggle to overcome the hardship, neglect, and cruelty all around them. A large percentage of the city’s estimated 50,000 workhorses were old, sick, and ill cared for. Many dropped under heavy burdens, only to be savagely beaten by insensitive drivers. The burgeoning Union Stock Yards and the slaughterhouses demonstrated little concern for the livestock they handled and incidents of inhumane butchery practices were common. Homeless dogs and cats wove their way through crowds of people in the streets in search of morsels of food and temporary shelter.

“A deep concern for the welfare of these helpless creatures led five Chicagoans to the home of Mrs. Theodore Thomas, wife of the city’s symphony conductor, on the evening of January 19, 1899. A second larger meeting at the residence of Mrs. Joseph Winterbothom on March 7, 1899, led to the formation of The Anti-Cruelty Society. This meeting saw the adoption of by-laws and election of Mrs. Thomas as the group’s first president. As the president of The Anti-Cruelty Society, Mrs. Thomas became one of the first women to head a humane society.

Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1904

“This small band of dedicated volunteers set high goals: to suppress cruelty to animals, to educate the public on humane treatment, and to create a refuge for strays. The Anti-Cruelty Society opened its first small animal shelter in 1904 at 1898 North Clark Street. By 1905, it had placed watering troughs throughout Chicago for thirsty workhorses. On December 6, 1906, The Anti-Cruelty Society received a charter from the State of Illinois to conduct protective work with animals and children. In addition to its work with animals, the Society was directly involved in the handling of child welfare cases for the next decade. The Society also instituted a humane education campaign organizing children’s chapters, distributing humane literature, and providing lectures.”

The Anti-Cruelty Society—Chicago’s oldest and most comprehensive animal welfare organization—continues its mission today, “building a community of caring by helping pets and educating people.” Happy, happy anniversary!

John Glessner and his wife Frances were among the most generous and loyal supporters of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since its founding in 1891. They extended that generosity into their own home, and both Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock, their families, along with members of the Orchestra and visiting soloists, were frequent guests, especially during the Christmas season (see here).

Frances meticulously kept diaries, detailing menus, decorations, guests, and seating arrangements, giving us a glimpse into the family’s frequent entertaining. According to her diaries, during the holiday season she frequently served one of her favorite cookies—Hermits. Here’s her recipe:

Hermits
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen bar cookies
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup nutmeats (chopped coarse)
1/2 cup dates (chopped or diced)
1 orange rind grated
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons sour milk
2 eggs (beaten well)

Cream together butter, sugar, and orange rind. Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and soda and set aside. Add beaten eggs to butter and sugar mixture. Alternate adding dry ingredients and sour milk, then fold in dates and nuts. Spoon into (greased and floured) 9-by-13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cut into bars when cool.
Modern cooking tip: sour milk can be fabricated by adding a few drops of lemon juice to milk.
(from Carol Callahan’s 1993 Prairie Avenue Cookbook)

Keeping with the Glessners’ holiday traditions, the Glessner House was beautifully decorated for the holidays this year. It recently was open for docent-led candlelight tours, complete with executive director and curator William Tyre playing carols on the late nineteenth-century Steinway grand piano in the parlor.

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And a footnote . . . we couldn’t share the recipe without trying it ourselves . . . delicious success!

Enlist: On Which Side of the Window are
You?,
Laura Brey, U.S., 1917

The recruitment poster at right, from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections, shows a civilian man looking out a window as soldiers march to service.

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Boston Globe, March 26, 1918

For a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance in Providence on October 30, 1917, several Rhode Island ladies’ clubs had contacted orchestra manager Charles Ellis, requesting the addition of The Star-Spangled Banner to the concert. After consulting with BSO founder Henry Higginson, Ellis decided not to change the program. Unaware of the request, music director Karl Muck—born in Germany but naturalized as a Swiss citizen—after the concert was accused in the press of working for the German cause and eventually arrested on March 25, 1918. He also was imprisoned at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia until August 1919, when he and his wife were deported. The article is here.

Ernst and Lina Kunwald, December 8, 1917 (National Archives and Records Administration)

Music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since 1912, Ernst Kunwald continued to express pride in his Austrian heritage during the war. He led The Star-Spangled Banner before one concert but only after expressing to the orchestra and the mostly German audience that his sympathies were with his homeland. Kunwald was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 8, 1917, and released the following day, whereupon he resigned his post as conductor. One month later, he was interned under the Alien Enemies Act at Fort Oglethorpe and was deported soon thereafter.

Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock

At the invitation of founder and first music director Theodore Thomas, Frederick Stock came to the U.S. in 1895 to join the Orchestra as assistant principal viola. He applied for his first U.S. citizenship papers four days after his arrival, but inadvertently neglected to complete the process. He was promoted to assistant conductor in 1899, and shortly after Thomas’s unexpected death on January 4, 1905, the board of trustees soon elected Frederick Stock as the Orchestra’s second music director on April 11.

Columbia Graphophone Company 1917 recording

Stock’s arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner

In 1916, on the eve of U.S. involvement in the war, President Woodrow Wilson ordered The Star-Spangled Banner to be played at military and other notable events. Stock made his own orchestration of the Banner along with America (My Country ’Tis of Thee) and recorded both with the Orchestra for the Columbia Graphophone Company on May 28, 1917.

Stock’s fingerprints (FBI Case Files, National Archives)

When the trustees encouraged Stock to finalize his citizenship—to deflect concerns over his German heritage—he discovered that his 1895 application was invalid and needed to start the process a second time. But first, Stock had to submit a Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy, complete with fingerprints, on February 7, 1918.

With his citizenship status incomplete and the country at war, on August 17, 1918, Frederick Stock made the decision to resign, asserting his loyalty to the U.S. “I do not hesitate to classify myself as American, because all who know me are aware that at heart, in thought and in spirit, as well as in action and deed, I am American, just as willing as any patriot to give my last drop of blood and my last penny for the land of my adoption and of my affections.” Stock’s handwritten letter and a transcript are here.

The trustees of the Orchestral Association reluctantly accepted Stock’s resignation on October 1, 1918. Acknowledging that he had changed the language at rehearsals to English in 1914 and had programmed countless works by American composers, the board expressed its hope that the separation would be temporary, and it would soon be their “joy to welcome to our conductor’s stand Citizen Stock.” The transcript of the board meeting minutes is here.

Eric DeLamarter

Chicago composer Eric DeLamarter, was hired as assistant conductor and led the first concerts of the 1918-19 season. DeLamarter also served as organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church from 1914 and as the first conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival beginning in 1935.

Chicago Daily News, February 20, 1919

At the trustees’ meeting on February 14, 1919, Orchestra manager Frederick Wessels reported that Stock “had complied with all the requirements of the law,” having filed the necessary papers on February 7; ninety days later, his citizenship would be complete. The executive committee met five days later and unanimously resolved that Stock should resume his music directorship the following week.

February 28, 1919

On February 28, 1919, “as Mr. Stock came through the door . . . cheers sounded in the upper tiers, and the audience rose to utter its gladness that he was back at the post.” That evening’s program began with The Star-Spangled Banner and concluded with the world premiere of Stock’s new March and Hymn to Democracy, “conceived,” according to the composer, “in the spirit of our day, a spirit, indeed, of world-wide turbulence and strife, but also a spirit imbued with unending hope and implicit faith in the ultimate regeneration of humanity.”

Linda Wolfe at the Frederick Stock School

Linda Wolfe, Stock’s great-granddaughter, added: “Most of Frederick Stock’s adult life had been with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—ten years as a violist and thirteen as music director—when he was classified as an alien enemy. He was forced to temporarily step down from the podium, and I cannot imagine his anguish and heartache. However, Stock’s devotion to the ensemble and the city did not waver during this dark time, as he spent his exile developing plans for the Civic Orchestra, the series of children’s concerts, and the youth auditions, all endeavors that continue to thrive today.”

Wolfe is pictured here at the Frederick Stock School in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood. Opened in 1955, Stock School is a Chicago Public School early childhood center for students between the ages of three and five, providing a model program for children with and without disabilities.

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A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.

This article also appears here. For event listings, please visit cso.org/armistice.

This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.

Additional thanks to Shawn Sheehy and Jenna Harmon, along with the Arts Club of Chicago, Newberry Library, Poetry Foundation, and Ravinia Festival Association.

Teufel Hunden,
Charles Buckles Falls,
U.S., 1917

The recruitment poster at left, from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections, shows a “devil dog” bulldog wearing a U.S. Marine helmet chasing a dachshund wearing a German helmet.

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1913-14 Chicago Symphony Orchestra roster

Up until the outbreak of World War I, the roster of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians had primarily been European since its founding in 1891. The ensemble’s first two music directors—Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock—were German immigrants, and their native language was spoken in leading rehearsals.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, tensions were high as the Orchestra performed works with strong nationalistic themes at a Ravinia Park matinee on August 14, 1914. Russian musicians taunted a Frenchman after Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; Belgian principal clarinet Joseph Schreurs, “gritted his teeth as the musicians next swept through Die Wacht am Rhein,” a German patriotic anthem; and “several Germans snapped the strings on their violins while playing La Marseillaise . . . Quarrels arose [and] internal strife, fanned by patriotic fervor, threatened to disrupt the organization.” The article is here.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, October 25, 1917 (Kaufmann & Fabry photo)

At the annual meeting of the Orchestral Association in December 1917, board president Clyde M. Carr addressed rumors regarding Orchestra members’ patriotism, reporting, “out of approximately one hundred members, there are only two who have not taken out their final papers,” completing their American citizenship. “There is no orchestra in America more unimpeachable in its Americanism.”

Musicians’ resolution

On April 6, 1918, Orchestra musicians drafted a resolution affirming their loyalty to the U. S. Charles Hamill, first vice president of the board, read the resolutions to the audience at that evening’s concert, declaring the Orchestra faithful to America “from the conductor to the kettle drum.”

While at Ravinia Park on August 6, 1918, seven members of the Orchestra were served notices to report to assistant district attorney Francis Borelli the following day, to answer charges that they had expressed pro-German sentiments. Accusations had been submitted against orchestra manager and trumpet Albert Ulrich; principal timpani Joseph Zettelmann, who had expressed contempt for The Star-Spangled Banner; trumpet William Hebs, who refused to stand during the anthem; and bass trombone Richard Kuss, who reportedly said he would kill any son of his who learned English. The article is here.

An August 16, 1918, letter to the Chicago Tribune editor expressed subscribers’ “faith in the loyalty of the majority of the members of the Orchestra.” The article is here.

Following the investigation, on October 10, 1918—the day before the first concert of the Orchestra’s twenty-eighth season—the Chicago Federation of Musicians announced that oboe Otto Hesselbach, bassoon William Krieglstein, bass trombone Richard Kuss, and principal cello Bruno Steindel were expelled from the union. All four had been tried on the same charge: “acting in a manner derogatory to the interests of the local and its members through unpatriotic actions and utterances.” The article is here.

Otto Hesselbach

In February 1919, the Chicago Federation of Musicians recommended conditional reinstatement of Hesselbach, Krieglstein, and Kuss, but not Steindel. Hesselbach and Krieglstein complied; Kuss did not. The article is here.

Otto Hesselbach (1862–?) was hired by Theodore Thomas in 1893 as oboe and principal english horn, and he also was occasionally listed as a member of the viola section. He was reinstated to the Orchestra in 1919 and served until 1928.

William Krieglstein and Richard Kuss

After emigrating from Austria in 1907, William Krieglstein (1884–1952) moved to Chicago and joined the Orchestra in 1912 as bassoon and principal contrabassoon, and beginning in 1915, he also was rostered as a bass. After his reengagement in 1919, Krieglstein was a member until 1929.

Richard Kuss (1883–1957) came to the U.S. from Germany in 1907 and served as bass trombone from 1912 until 1918. He was reinstated to the union in 1919 and remained in the city, primarily working for the Chicago Opera, but was not reengaged by the Orchestra.

Bruno Steindel

Former principal cello of the Berlin Philharmonic, Bruno Steindel (1866–1949) had played under Brahms, Dvořák, Grieg, Richard Strauss, and Tchaikovsky when he was chosen by Theodore Thomas as the Chicago Orchestra’s founding principal cello in 1891. Following the investigation, he tendered his resignation on October 1, 1918. Steindel continued to perform in Chicago, as principal cello of the Chicago Civic Opera and giving concerts for the benefit of German war orphans, despite protests by American Legion posts. The article is here.

Steindel Trio

Steindel’s wife Mathilde, a pianist who frequently performed with the Steindel Trio (along with CSO violin Fritz Itte), had become depressed over the countless accusations her husband had received in the press. On the evening of March 5, 1921, she committed suicide by drowning herself in Lake Michigan. The next morning at the foot of Farwell Avenue, the police found her automobile, its lights “still ablaze. Her expensive fur coat, which she had cast off before jumping into the lake, lay on the pier.” The article is here.

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A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.

This article also appears here. For event listings, please visit cso.org/armistice.

This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.

Additional thanks to Shawn Sheehy and Jenna Harmon, along with the Arts Club of Chicago, Newberry Library, Poetry Foundation, and Ravinia Festival Association.

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