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CSOA archivist Frank Villella and pianist Kirill Gerstein in the Rosenthal Archives vault

Kirill Gerstein, our guest pianist this week, in town to perform Sergei Prokofiev‘s Second Piano Concerto, visited the Rosenthal Archives for a tour and to view several items in our collections.

In addition to seeing several Prokofiev-related photographs and vintage program books, Gerstein also was very interested in materials relating to composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni, who was a frequent soloist with the CSO between 1892 and 1915. He also spent some time carefully perusing an early edition of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto used by Theodore Thomas for the Orchestra’s inaugural concerts in October 1891; Hungarian pianist Rafael Joseffy was the soloist for those first concerts.


(The Archives is a popular place for performers of Prokofiev’s music: guest conductor Stéphane Denève visited in November 2011 when he was in Chicago to lead the Orchestra in a Suite from The Love for Three Oranges and the Second Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos, and both conductor Sakari Oramo and pianist Yuja Wang visited in May 2013, when they performed the Third Piano Concerto.)

Prokofiev was soloist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of the Second Piano Concerto on February 28 and March 1, 1930. Assistant Conductor Eric DeLamarter conducted. After intermission the composer returned to conduct his ballet Le pas d’acier. On March 24, 1930, Prokofiev and his wife—soprano Lina Llubera—gave a recital at Orchestra Hall under the auspices of the Chicago Society for Cultural Relations with Russia.

Prokofiev is soloist in his Second Piano Concerto, Eric DeLamarter conducts. February 28 and March 1, 1930

February 28 and March 1, 1930

Prokofiev recital with his wife as soloist

March 24, 1930

Program book biography from February and March 1930 appearances

The composer’s program book biography from the February and March 1930 appearances

The back cover of the 1930 program book also contained two Prokofiev-related advertisements. The inside cover announced the upcoming release of the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s recording of the Classical Symphony (Symphony no. 1) conducted by Serge Koussevitzky on Victor. The outside cover contained a endorsed advertisement for Lyon & Healy as a distributor of Steinway pianos: “When he composes or plays—Prokofieff uses Steinway.”

Victor advertisement Steinway advertisement
Yuja Wang as soloist in Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on April 3, 2013. Sakari Oramo conducts. (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Yuja Wang as soloist in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on April 3, 2013. Sakari Oramo conducts. (Todd Rosenberg photo)

A crew from Euronews‘s Musica program was in town this past April, filming a segment on the remarkable Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Wang was in town for performances of Sergei Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with Sakari Oramo conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Wang visited the Rosenthal Archives during her visit and had a chance to see materials relating to Prokofiev’s many visits with the CSO, including the world premiere performances of his Third Piano Concerto in December 1921. And in the Musica segment, several archival images are used and Wang gives the Archives a nice little shout-out.


The program for the world premiere of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the composer as soloist and Frederick Stock conducting. The composer also conducted the first Chicago performances of his First Symphony.


Sergei Prokofiev’s program biography for the world premiere of his Third Piano Concerto in December 1921.

CSO Grammy Awards 1

This year’s Grammy Awards telecast is Sunday evening, February 10, on CBS. Following the telecast, CBS 2 Chicago will be running a brief feature on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s extensive history with the awards. Weekend co-anchor Mai Martinez visited the Rosenthal Archives earlier this week and the segment was taped in the vault, including an interview with yours truly. A few images of the visit and taping are included here.

CSO Grammy Awards 2

Recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have earned sixty-two Grammy Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. A complete list of those recordings and awards can be found here. And, of course, the CSO’s eighth music director, Sir Georg Solti, is still the all-time Grammy champ, with thirty-one awards to his credit.

CSO Grammy Awards 3

CSO Grammy Awards 4

A brief recap of Wednesday’s events, celebrating the Glessner family event and their generosity to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:

Weisbach family in the vault

Several descendants of Harry Weisbach, concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1912 until 1921, traveled to Chicago for the Glessner House and Museum event. Before Wednesday evening’s dinner and presentation, four family members visited the Rosenthal Archives to view materials in our collections that document Weisbach’s tenure, and they were all planning to attend the CSO concert on Thursday evening.

The Drum Major of Schneider's Band

One of Mrs. Glessner’s favorite songs was Arthur J. Mundy’s “The Drum Major of Schneider’s Band,” and she loved playing it on the family Steinway piano. In her honor, the music on the doll orchestra’s music stands, individually handwritten by Frederick Stock, is a section from that song.

Dinner at Glessner House

On the evening of January 17, 1913, Mrs. Glessner herself sat at the piano in the music room and played the song while the family and members of the Orchestra sang along. And on Wednesday evening just before dinner—sitting at that same piano—Bill Tyre (Glessner House executive director and curator) and yours truly performed the song for the dinner guests, which included not only descendants of Harry Weisbach but also the great-granddaughter of Frederick Stock.

A little sample of the song’s text: “But ven you heers dot moosic blay so sveet / See dot Band a marchin oop de street / Vy it vas you tink dey blay so grand / Who it vas you tink dot leads dot Band / You hear de moosic gay / You hear de beeples say / It surely must be Schneider leads dot Band!”

Bill's presentation at Glessner House

And to complete the evening in the coach house, Bill gave an in-depth presentation—using images and artifacts from the museum’s collections—illustrating the extensive and deep relationship between the Glessner family and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, its musicians, and its first two music directors Theodore Thomas and Frederick Stock.

It was simply a wonderful event and collaboration to celebrate the generosity of a great Chicago family.

And just a reminder that the doll collection will only be on exhibit through February 24, 2013. Details on museum tours are here.

We get a lot of visitors here in the Archives. Patrons, students, biographers, genealogists, media, musicians, and teachers, all looking for information on a variety of subjects. But it’s not often that we have the pleasure of hosting one of our guest conductors.

Stéphane Denève, who made an impressive podium debut last week (see here, here, and here), had expressed an interest in the history of the CSO, and one of my colleagues suggested a visit to the Archives. So yesterday on his day off, he came by and spent a couple of hours looking at Theodore Thomas scores (he was particularly interested in Thomas’s bowing markings) and a scrapbook of images of the Orchestra onstage between 1905 and 1964 (to see the changes in seating arrangements and varying use of onstage risers).

Maestro Denève was also happy to share a few stories about some of his early jobs: assisting Sir Georg Solti at the Orchestre de Paris (Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle in 1995) and the Paris National Opera (Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 1996), as well as with Seiji Ozawa (who led the CSO as music director of the Ravinia Festival in the 1960s) at the Saito Kinen Festival (Poulenc’s Les dialogues des Carmélites in 1998).

Who’s next?

the vault

Theodore Thomas

csoarchives twitter feed

chicagosymphony twitter feed


The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.


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