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Donald Peck in 1994 (Jim Steere photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the passing of Donald Peck, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1957 until 1999 and principal flute for over forty years. He passed away earlier today, April 29, 2022. Peck was ninety-two.

Born on January 26, 1930, in Yakima, Washington, Donald Peck received his early musical training in Seattle, where he played in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. As a teenager, he performed with his first teacher, Frank Horsfall, in the Seattle Symphony. He was a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied with William Kincaid. Peck performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and spent three years in the U.S. Marine Band. He was principal flute of the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra for two years before Fritz Reiner invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1957 as assistant principal flute. The following year, Reiner promoted Peck to principal flute, a chair he would hold for over forty years until his retirement in 1999.

Peck first appeared as soloist with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in August 1959, in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and on subscription concerts in Orchestra Hall in November 1960, in Bach’s Second Orchestral Suite, both with Walter Hendl conducting. During his tenure, he appeared as soloist on more than 120 concerts directed by twenty-five conductors—including music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and on tour.

Donald Peck in 1966 (Dorothy Siegel Druzinsky photo)

On April 18, 1985, Solti led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Morton Gould’s Flute Concerto, commissioned for Peck. In a preview article in the Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein described his playing as, “Lustrous and penetrating, tender and lyrical, charming and sensual, its hues would put a chameleon to shame. It is one of the most distinctive voices in the orchestral choir, blending well with any ensemble even as it serves a key role within the woodwind section. . . . as principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck has carried out that role with a combination of technical skill and musical understanding that has earned him widespread admiration. Within the fraternity of the flute he is considered to be without peer. No less a judge than Julius Baker, the longtime principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic [and principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1951 until 1953], pronounces Peck ‘the greatest flutist I’ve ever heard.'”

Also for Peck, William Ferris wrote his Flute Sonata and Lee Hoiby dedicated his Pastorale Dances for Flute and Orchestra. He regularly performed as a guest artist with other orchestras, including appearances at the Pablo Casals Festival with concerts in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and in Carnegie Hall. In Australia, Peck recorded Mozart’s flute concertos for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and he regularly appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, the Victoria International Festival in Canada, the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, along with numerous other orchestras from coast to coast.

As principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck performed on over three hundred recordings under twenty-two conductors for twelve labels. In his retirement, he recorded works for flute and piano with Melody Lord for the Boston label. Peck also was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Peck served on the faculties of DePaul and Roosevelt universities, where he taught flute and woodwind ensemble. A frequent lecturer and guest teacher, he gave master classes at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music in New York, at the Rotterdam Conservatory in Holland, for the Osaka Flute Club in Japan, at the Sydney Flute Association in Australia, and at over thirty universities and music groups throughout the United States and Canada. For many years, Peck played a flute—fashioned in platinum-iridium—handmade for him by Powell Flutes of Boston.

In 1997, the National Flute Association honored Peck with a lifetime achievement award. Indiana University Press published Peck’s memoir, The Right Place, The Right Time! Tales of Chicago Symphony Days in 2007, and the Chicago Flute Club’s biennial international flute competition is named in his honor.

Near the end of his tenure as principal flute, Peck spoke again with von Rhein for the Chicago Tribune. “The flute has the potential for more color and brilliance [and] the woodwind section can be most exquisite, like glittering jewels. . . . I have been a very lucky person, having performed with wonderful musicians and done so much. What more could I want?”

Donald Peck warming up backstage, on tour with the CSO in the 1990s (Jim Steere photo)

Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date, and memorial gifts may be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This article also appears here.

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the remarkable Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa!

As a last-minute replacement for Georges Prêtre in July 1963, Ozawa was called upon to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in two concerts at the Ravinia Festival. The twenty-seven-year-old conductor made his debut on July 16 in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture no. 3, Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Byron Janis, and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony. Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune reported that Ozawa was “instantly in command when in possession of a baton and a musical idea. His conducting technique reminds you of his teacher, Herbert von Karajan, in that it lays the score in the lap of the Orchestra with transparency of gesture and human communication, then commands acceptance.”

Only a month later it was announced that Ozawa would become the Ravinia Festival’s first music director and resident conductor beginning with the 1964 season, replacing Walter Hendl, who had served as artistic director since 1959. For his first concert as music director on June 16, 1964, Ozawa led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Barber’s Piano Concerto with John Browning, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Reverse jacket of Angel Records recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, made at Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969

Reverse jacket of Angel Records recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, made at Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969

He served as music director of the Ravinia Festival through the 1968 season and as principal conductor for the 1969 season, returning regularly as a guest conductor. Ozawa most recently appeared there on July 14, 1985, leading Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major and Takemitsu’s riverrun with Peter Serkin, along with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony.

Between 1965 and 1970—at both Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple— Ozawa and the Orchestra recorded a number of works for Angel and RCA, including Bartók’s First and Third piano concertos and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with Peter Serkin, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade with concertmaster Victor Aitay, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

A complete list of his performances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below:

July 16, 1963, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72a
GRIEG Concerto for Piano in A Minor, Op. 16
Byron Janis, piano
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

June 16, 1964

July 18, 1963, Ravinia Festival
ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Christian Ferras, violin
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
TAKEMITSU Requiem for String Orchestra (U.S. premiere)
PROKOFIEV Selections from Romeo and Juliet

June 16, 1964, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BARBER Piano Concerto, Op. 38
John Browning, piano
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

June 18, 1964, Ravinia Festival
POULENC Gloria
Barbara Garrison, soprano
Harvard Glee Club
Radcliffe Choral Society
Elliot Forbes, director
FAURÉ Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48
Barbara Garrison, soprano
Howard Nelson, baritone
Harvard Glee Club
Radcliffe Choral Society
Elliot Forbes, director

June 30, 1964, Ravinia Festival
HINDEMITH Symphony, Mathis der Maler
SIBELIUS Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Ruggiero Ricci, violin
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

Ozawa and Igor Stravinsky in Orchestra Hall on July 20, 1964, while the composer was in town to lead recording sessions of his Orpheus with the CSO (Arthur Siegel photo)

July 7, 1964, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Neal O’Doan, piano
GLUCK Divinités du Styx from Alceste
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
THOMAS Elle est la pres de lui from Mignon
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
ROSSINI Non più mesta from La cenerentola
Dolores Ann White, mezzo-soprano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Michael Rogers, piano

July 21, 1964, Ravinia Festival
BIZET Symphony No. 1 in C Major
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C Major, K. 314
Ray Still, oboe
TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32

July 25, 1964, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMAN American Festival Overture
IVES Central Park in the Dark
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
FRANCK Symphony in D Minor

July 28, 1964, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Overture to Euryanthe, Op. 81
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Leon Fleisher and Ozawa backstage on August 1, 1964 (Arthur Siegel photo)

August 1, 1964, Ravinia Festival,
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Leon Fleisher, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

June 15, 1965, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
MOZART Serenade No. 10 for Winds in B-flat Major, K. 361
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

June 17, 1965, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Jubel Overture, Op. 59
RESPIGHI Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 1
DONIZETTI Una furtiva lagrima from L’elisir d’amore
Richard Tucker, tenor
VERDI Forse la soglia attinse from Un ballo in maschera
Richard Tucker, tenor
BIZET L’arlesienne Suite No. 2
BIZET La fleur que tu m’avais jetèe from Carmen
Richard Tucker, tenor
MASCAGNI Mamma, quel vino from Cavalleria rusticana
Richard Tucker, tenor

June 19, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HARRIS When Johnny Comes Marching Home
MACDOWELL Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23
André Watts, piano
NIELSEN Symphony No. 5, Op. 50

June 20, 1965, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
BLACHER Concertante Musik, Op. 10
DEBUSSY First Rhapsody
Clark Brody, clarinet
KABELEVSKY The Comedians, Op. 26
HINDEMITH Concerto for Winds, Harp, and Orchestra
RAMSIER Divertimento on a Theme of Couperin
Gary Karr, bass

June 22, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Berl Senofsky, violin
BERLIOZ Funereal and Triumphal Symphony, Op. 15
BERLIOZ Selections from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24

June 27, 1965, Ravinia Festival
ROUSSEL Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 42
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3
Peter Serkin, piano
STRAVINSKY Four Etudes
ELLIOT Bassoon Concerto (world premiere)
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto was recorded on June 28, 1965, in Orchestra Hall. For RCA, Max Wilcox was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

June 29, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL Concerto grosso in B Minor, Op. 6, No. 12
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Eugene Istomin, piano
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Isaac Stern, violin

July 1, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Divertimento in D Major, K. 136
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Isaac Stern, violin
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Leonard Rose, cello

July 3, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Eugene Istomin, piano
BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Isaac Stern, violin
Leonard Rose, cello
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, Op. 56 (Triple)
Isaac Stern, violin
Leonard Rose, cello
Eugene Istomin, piano

July 4, 1965, Ravinia Festival
HOVHANESS Fantasy on Japanese Wood Prints, Op. 211 (world premiere)
Yoichi Hiraoka, xylophone
IVES The Fourth of July
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
GOTTLIEB Pieces of Seven Overture
BERNSTEIN Suite from Fancy Free

July 11, 1965, Ravinia Festival
GINASTERA Estancia Suite, Op. 8a
DEBUSSY/Caplet Children’s Corner
RIVIER Concerto brève
Kyoko Ozawa, piano
RIEGGER Dance Rhythms, Op. 58
RIEGGER Study in Sonority, Op. 7

July 15, 1965, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major, K. 364
Victor Aitay, violin
Milton Preves, viola
STRAUSS Four Songs (Morgen, Waldseligkeit, Muttertändelei, and Zueignung)
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
HINDEMITH Konzertmusik for String Orchestra and Brass, Op. 50
TCHAIKOVSKY Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano

July 18, 1965, Ravinia Festival
IBERT Divertissement
ORFF Carmina burana
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Pierre Duval, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Alfred H. Reichel, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

July 20, 1965, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Gabriel Chodos, piano
DVOŘÁK First movement (Allegro) from Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Daniel Domb, cello
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
John C. Owings, piano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Adrian Ruiz, piano

For the U.S. premiere of Jean Martinon’s Cello Concerto on July 31, 1965, former principal cello János Starker returned as soloist at the Ravinia Festival. Shown here during a rehearsal are the composer, soloist, and conductor.

July 31, 1965, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND An Outdoor Overture
MARTINON Cello Concerto, Op. 52 (U.S. premiere)
János Starker, cello
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4, F Minor, Op. 36

March 26, 1966, Orchestra Hall
March 28, 1966, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
WEBER Konzertstück for Piano in F Minor, Op. 79
Yuri Boukoff, piano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Yuri Boukoff, piano
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

March 31, April 1, and 2, 1966, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425 (Linz) 
IVES Symphony No. 4
DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
Isaac Stern, violin

June 28, 1966, Ravinia Festival
BUSONI Lustspiel Overture, Op. 38
TAKEMITSU Requiem for String Orchestra
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

June 30, 1966, Ravinia Festival
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
MUSSORGSKY Selections from Boris Godunov
George London, bass-baritone
BORODIN Symphony No. 2 in B Minor

July 7, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HAYDN Symphony No. 86 in D Major
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Peter Serkin, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

July 10, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TOCH Pinocchio, A Merry Overture
IBERT Symphonic Suite, Impressions of Paris
IVES/Schuman Variations on America
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
Peter Serkin, piano
Bartók’s First Piano Concerto was recorded on July 11, 1966, in Orchestra Hall. For RCA, Max Wilcox was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

July 24, 1966, Ravinia Festival
FREEDMAN Images
BERG Violin Concerto
Paul Makanowitzky, violin
MOREL L’etoile noire
THOMSON Louisiana Story, Suite for Orchestra

July 26, 1966, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1
Byron Janis, piano
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Byron Janis, piano

July 28, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL/Harty Suite from Music for the Royal Fireworks
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Byron Janis, piano
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Byron Janis, piano

July 31, 1966, Ravinia Festival
LUTOSŁAWSKI Funeral Music
SHULMAN Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra
Milton Preves, viola
BERIO Serenata I for Flute and Fourteen Instruments
Donald Peck, flute
XENAKIS Eonta
Yuji Takahashi, piano
VARÈSE Hyperprism

August 11, 1966, Ravinia Festival
HOMMANN Overture for Orchestra
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Mary Simmons, mezzo-soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Van Cliburn, piano

August 13, 1966, Ravinia Festival
BACH/Schoenberg Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 552 (Saint Anne)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-fat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Van Cliburn, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

June 27, 1967, Ravinia Festival
GLUCK Overture to Iphigénie en Aulide
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Byron Janis, piano
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
GINASTERA Estancia Suite, Op. 8a

June 29, 1967, Ravinia Festival
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
GERSHWIN/Bennett Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture
GERSHWIN Cuban Overture
GERSHWIN Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra
Byron Janis, piano

July 1, 1967, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Overture to I vespri siciliani
MENOTTI The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi
Julie Idione, soprano
Simon Estes, bass
All-City Chicago High School Chorus
Emile Serposs, director
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Lili Kraus, piano
RESPIGHI Pines of Rome

July 9, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051
BLOCH Concerto grosso No. 1
Mary Sauer, piano
SYMONDS Concerto grosso for Jazz Quintet and Orchestra
Kenny Soderblom Jazz Quintet
Kenny Soderblom, alto saxophone
John Avant, trombone
Bobby Roberts, guitar
Harold Jones, drums
Ernest Outlaw, bass
YASHIRO Cello Concerto
Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, cello

July 13, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BRITTEN The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Peter Serkin, piano
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition
Britten’s Young Person’s Guide and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition were recorded in Medinah Temple on July 18, 1967. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

July 16, 1967, Ravinia Festival
MERCURE Triptyque for Orchestra
JOACHIM Contrasts for Orchestra (world premiere)
SCHULLER Recitative and Rondo (world premiere)
Victor Aitay, violin
MOZART Horn Concerto in E-flat Major, K. 495
Dale Clevenger, horn
SCHOENBERG Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Peter Serkin, piano
Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto was recorded in Medinah Temple on July 17, 1967. For RCA Max Wilcox was the producer and Richard Gardner was the recording engineer.

July 30, 1967, Ravinia Festival
RUSSO Symphony No. 2 in C, Op. 32 (Titans)
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 31
Young Uck Kim, violin
FOSS Baroque Variations in Three Movements (world premiere)
SCHUMAN Symphony No. 3

August 8, 1967, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Overture to La forza del destino
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor
Gabriel Chodos, piano
SAINT-SAЁNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor
Patricia Hanson, piano

August 10, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BERNSTEIN Serenade after Plato’s Symposium
James Oliver Buswell IV, violin
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety)
Leonard Pennario, piano

Ozawa and the CSO recording Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in Orchestra Hal on July 1, 1968 (Terry’s photo)

August 12, 1967, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish)
Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano
Vera Zorina, speaker
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Ronald B. Schweitzer, assistant director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

August 15, 1967, Civic Center Plaza (now Richard J. Daley Center)
Dedication of The Chicago Picasso
GERSHWIN An American in Paris
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BERNSTEIN Selections from Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

April 29, 1968, Orchestra Hall
BERNSTEIN Overture to Candide
BRAHMS Excerpt from Fourth movement (Adagio) from Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
MASCAGNI Voi lo sapete from Cavalleria rusticana
Grace Bumbry, soprano
PONCHIELLI Suicidio! from La gioconda
Grace Bumbry, soprano

June 27, 1968, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture
COPLAND Preamble for a Solemn Occasion
Marian Anderson, speaker
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

June 29, 1968, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 C Minor, Op. 37
Byron Janis, piano
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 1, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

June 30, 1968, Ravinia Festival
WEBER Overture to Oberon
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 26
Susan Starr, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite from Swan Lake
BOCK Selections from Fiddler on the Roof
GARLAND In the Mood

July 2, 1968, Ravinia Festival
CHABRIER España
TURINA Rapsodia sinfonica
Joaquín Achúcarro, piano
FALLA Nights In The Gardens of Spain
Joaquín Achúcarro, piano
FALLA Three Dances from The Three-Cornered Hat
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34

July 6, 1968, Ravinia Festival
KRENEK Perspectives (world premiere)
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Leon Fleisher, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 8, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

July 7, 1968, Ravinia Festival
J. C. BACH Symphony No. 4 in D Major
SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 33
Lawrence Foster, cello
STRAVINSKY Fireworks
RUSSO Three Pieces for Blues Band and Orchestra (world premiere)
Stravinsky’s Fireworks was recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 8, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer, and Bernard Keville and Ernest Oelrich were the recording engineers.

August 3, 1968, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (Unfinished)
PUCCINI Sì, mi chiamano Mimì from La bohème
Anna Moffo, soprano
VERDI Scene from La traviata
Anna Moffo, soprano
DONIZETTI Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor
Anna Moffo, soprano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Schubert’s Eighth Symphony were recorded in Orchestra Hall on August 9, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

August 4, 1968, Ravinia Festival
STOUT Symphony No. 2 (world premiere)
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto in E-flat Major, Op. 107
Frank Miller, cello
GINASTERA Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 28
Jerome Lowenthal, piano

August 6, 1968, Ravinia Festival
TOYAMA Rhapsody for Orchestra
TAKEMITSU November Steps
Kinshi Tsuruta, kinshi, biwa and voice
Katsuya Yokoyama, shakuhachi
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Young Uck Kim, violin

Seiji and Vera Ozawa at a Ravinia Festival picnic on August 4, 1968 (Nickerson Photo Company photo)

August 8, 1968, Ravinia Festival
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
BRITTEN Scottish Ballad, Op. 26
Arthur Austin Whittemore, piano
Jack Lowe, piano
POULENC Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor
Arthur Austin Whittemore, piano
Jack Lowe, piano
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Mary Michel, speaker
Teresa Orantes, soprano
Diana Haskell, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bare Mountain was recorded in Orchestra Hall on August 9, 1968. For RCA, Peter Dellheim was the producer and Bernard Keville was the recording engineer.

August 10, 1968 (11:00 a.m.), Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Prologue from West Side Story
DEBUSSY Clair de lune from Suite bergamasque
TOYAMA Rhapsody for Orchestra
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bare Mountain
VERDI Overture to I vespri siciliani

August 10, 1968 (8:30 p.m.), Ravinia Festival
RESPIGHI The Birds
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
John Browning, piano
STRAVINSKY Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra
John Browning, piano
HINDEMITH Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber

June 26, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto in D Major (arranged from the Violin Concerto, Op. 61)
Peter Serkin, piano
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta (not performed in concert) were recorded in Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones was the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

June 28, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Lois Marshall, soprano
Nicholas di Virgilio, tenor
Ezio Flagello, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 29, 1969, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 11
Dale Clevenger, horn
TAKEMITSU Asterism for Piano and Orchestra
Yuji Takahashi, piano
RIMSKY-KORSAKOFF Sheherazade, Op. 35
Victor Aitay, violin
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor (not performed in concert) were recorded in Medinah Temple on June 30 and July 1, 1969. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones was the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

July 3, 1969, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Overture to Così fan tutte, K. 588
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat Major, K. 456
Peter Serkin, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

July 5, 1969, Ravinia Festival
HAYDN Symphony No. 75 in D Major
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Maurizio Pollini, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams)

July 6, 1969, Ravinia Festival
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Victor Aitay, violin
Donald Peck, flute
De Vere Moore, oboe
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Mary Sauer, harpsichord
TIRCUIT Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra
Stomu Yamash’ta, percussion
SHOSTAKOVICH Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra in C Minor, Op. 35
Sheldon Shkolnik, piano
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
BERNSTEIN Chichester Psalms
Howard Pfeifer, boy soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 25, 1970, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Eileen Farrell, soprano
JANÁČEK Sinfonietta
WAGNER A Faust Overture
WAGNER Brünnhilde’s Immolation from Götterdämmerung
Eileen Farrell, soprano
Janáček’s Sinfonietta was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 26, 1970. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

June 27, 1970, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

June 28, 1970, Ravinia Festival
GABRIELI Sonata pian’ e forte
LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra
SCHICKELE The Fantastic Garden
WALDEN Circus
DENNIS Pennsylvania Station
Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 29, 1970. For Angel, Peter Andry was the executive producer and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer.

Donald Peck and Edward Druzinsky rehearse with Ozawa and the Orchestra on July 8, 1971 (Donald Peck collection)

July 8, 1971, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K. 299
Donald Peck, flute
Edward Druzinsky, harp
HUMMEL Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
GABRIELI Canzon duodecimi toni
TAKEMITSU Cassiopeia for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra (world premiere)
Stomu Yamash’ta, percussion

July 10, 1971, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19

February 1, 2, and 3, 1973, Orchestra Hall
February 5, 1973, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
HAYDN Symphony No. 60 in C Major (Il distratto)
LIGETI Melodien
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

February 8, 9, and 10, 1973, Orchestra Hall
BOONE First Landscape
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Gina Bachauer, piano
STRAVINSKY The Firebird

July 14, 1985, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Rondo in D Major, K. 382
Peter Serkin, piano
TAKEMITSU Riverrun
Peter Serkin, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

On tour with visiting orchestras, Ozawa also appeared in Orchestra Hall under the auspices of Allied Arts and Symphony Center Presents, as follows:

April 8 1975, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
James Levine, piano
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe
Ann Arbor Festival Chorus
Donald Bryant, director
Boston Symphony Orchestra

March 6, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring
Boston Symphony Orchestra

April 24, 1991, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No 8 in F Major, Op. 93
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Boston Symphony Orchestra

February 9, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Boston Symphony Orchestra

January 10, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major
Saito Kinen Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary American pianist, conductor, and pedagogue Leon Fleisher, who died yesterday in Baltimore. He was ninety-two.

Leon Fleisher (Eli Turner photo)

Fleisher began playing the piano at the age of four, and five years later he became a student of Artur Schnabel. At sixteen in 1944, he made his debut performing Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and then with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, both under Pierre Monteux. The following year, he made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein conducting at the Ravinia Festival.

In 1964, Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia, forcing him to concentrate on repertoire written for the left hand. By the late 1990s, he had regained use of his right hand. A tireless pedagogue, he was (according to his son Julian) still teaching and conducting master classes online as recently as last week.

Fleisher appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list is below.

July 31, 1945, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Leonard Bernstein, conductor

August 4, 1945, Ravinia Festival
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Leonard Bernstein, conductor

July 4, 1946, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
George Szell, conductor

July 7, 1946, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
George Szell, conductor

July 11, 1946, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
William Steinberg, conductor

July 14, 1946, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
William Steinberg, conductor

Leon Fleisher in 1963 (Bender photo)

March 25, 1947, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Désiré Defauw, conductor

March 27 and 28, 1947, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Désiré Defauw, conductor

February 18, 19, and 23, 1954, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Fritz Reiner, conductor

July 1, 1954, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
William Steinberg, conductor

July 4, 1954, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
William Steinberg, conductor

July 13, 1956, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Igor Markevitch, conductor

July 14, 1956, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Igor Markevitch, conductor

February 1, 1958, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

July 26, 1958, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Igor Markevitch, conductor

July 29, 1958, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Georg Solti, conductor

July 30, 1959, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73
André Cluytens, conductor

August 1, 1959, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
André Cluytens, conductor

June 27, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Walter Hendl, conductor

June 29, 1961, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
Walter Hendl, conductor

April 25 and 26, 1963, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Walter Hendl, conductor

July 25, 1963, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, conductor

July 27, 1963, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, conductor

July 30, 1964, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Stanisław Skrowaczewski, conductor

August 1, 1964, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 6, 1968, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

June 30, 1984, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
James Levine, conductor

July 27, 1985, Ravinia Festival
BRITTEN Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra, Op. 21
James Conlon, conductor

August 14, 1986, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 4 in B-flat Major for the Left Hand, Op. 53
James Conlon, conductor

July 28, 1988, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Yuri Temirkanov, conductor

July 28, 1989, Ravinia Festival
SCHMIDT Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in E-flat Major
Edo de Waart, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

July 26, 1990, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Gianluigi Gelmetti, conductor

December 3, 4, 5, and 8, 1992
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Pierre Boulez, conductor

July 29, 1995, Ravinia Festival
FOSS Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Manfred Honeck, conductor

December 14, 15, and 16, 1995, Orchestra Hall
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Pierre Boulez, conductor

July 10, 1998, Ravinia Festival
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 1, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 14, 1999, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Adagio from Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 15, 2000, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Iván Fischer, conductor

July 15, 2001, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor

July 13, 2002, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242 (Lodron)
Leon Fleisher, piano
Claude Frank, piano
Menahem Pressler, piano
Peter Oundjian, conductor

August 1, 2003, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
John Axelrod, conductor

July 30, 2008, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor

July 28, 2013, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242 (Lodron)
Leon Fleisher, piano
Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, piano
Alon Goldstein, piano

Numerous tributes have been posted online, including The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, and NPR, among many others.

Wishing Donald Peck—a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1957 until 1999 and principal flute for over forty years—a very happy ninetieth birthday!

Donald Peck in 1994 (Jim Steere photo)

Peck received his early musical training in Seattle, where he played in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. As a teenager, he performed with his first teacher, Frank Horsfall, in the Seattle Symphony. He was a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied with William Kincaid. Peck performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and spent three years in the U.S. Marine Band. He was principal flute of the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra for two years before Fritz Reiner invited him to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1957 as assistant principal flute. The following year, Reiner promoted Peck to principal flute, a chair he would hold for over forty years until his retirement in 1999.

Peck first appeared as soloist with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in August 1959, in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and on subscription concerts in Orchestra Hall in November 1960, in Bach’s Second Orchestral Suite, both with Walter Hendl conducting. During his tenure, he appeared as soloist on more than 120 concerts directed by twenty-five conductors—including music directors Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim—in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and on tour.

On April 18, 1985, Solti led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Morton Gould’s Flute Concerto, commissioned for Peck. In a preview article in the Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein described his playing as, “Lustrous and penetrating, tender and lyrical, charming and sensual, its hues would put a chameleon to shame. It is one of the most distinctive voices in the orchestral choir, blending well with any ensemble even as it serves a key role within the woodwind section. . . . as principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck has carried out that role with a combination of technical skill and musical understanding that has earned him widespread admiration. Within the fraternity of the flute he is considered to be without peer. No less a judge than Julius Baker, the longtime principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic [and principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1951 until 1953], pronounces Peck ‘the greatest flutist I’ve ever heard.'”

Donald Peck in 1966 (Dorothy Siegel Druzinsky photo)

Also for Peck, William Ferris wrote his Flute Sonata and Lee Hoiby dedicated his Pastorale Dances for Flute and Orchestra. He regularly performed as a guest artist with other orchestras, including appearances at the Pablo Casals Festival with concerts in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and in Carnegie Hall. In Australia, Peck recorded Mozart’s flute concertos for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and he regularly appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, the Victoria International Festival in Canada, the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, along with numerous other orchestras from coast to coast.

As principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Peck performed on over three hundred recordings under twenty-two conductors for twelve labels. In his retirement, he has recorded works for flute and piano with Melody Lord for the Boston label.

Peck has served on the faculties of DePaul and Roosevelt universities, where he taught flute and woodwind ensemble. A frequent lecturer and guest teacher, he has given master classes at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music in New York, at the Rotterdam Conservatory in Holland, for the Osaka Flute Club in Japan, at the Sydney Flute Association in Australia, and at over thirty universities and music groups throughout the United States and Canada. For many years, Peck played a flute—fashioned in platinum-iridium—handmade for him by Powell Flutes of Boston.

In 1997, the National Flute Association honored Peck with a lifetime achievement award. Indiana University Press published Peck’s memoir, The Right Place, The Right Time! Tales of Chicago Symphony Days in 2007, and the Chicago Flute Club’s biennial international flute competition is named in his honor.

Near the end of his tenure as principal flute, Peck spoke again with von Rhein for the Chicago Tribune. “The flute has the potential for more color and brilliance [and] the woodwind section can be most exquisite, like glittering jewels. . . . I have been a very lucky person, having performed with wonderful musicians and done so much. What more could I want?”

Happy, happy birthday!

Gary Graffman (Carol Rosegg photo)

Wishing a very happy (albeit slightly belated) ninetieth birthday to the great American pianist and teacher Gary Graffman!

Graffman appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of occasions between 1951 and 1976, listed below:

January 13, 1951, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
George Schick, conductor

April 7, 1956, Orchestra Hall
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
George Schick, conductor

February 10, 12, and 13, 1959, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Walter Hendl, conductor
Recorded by RCA on May 5, 1959, in Orchestra Hall. Richard Bayne was the engineer and Richard Mohr was the producer.

February 18, 1961, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Walter Hendl, conductor

July 29, 1961, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Paul Hindemith, conductor

August 5, 1961, Ravinia Festival
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 43
Izler Solomon, conductor

January 10, 11, and 13, 1974, Orchestra Hall
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Guido Ajmone-Marsan, conductor

July 22, 1976, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
André Previn, conductor

October 14, 15, and 17, 1976, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Ruggiero Ricci in Prague in 1958 (CTK/Alamy photo)

On July 24, 2018, we celebrate the centennial of the birth of the remarkable American violinist Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012), a frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

A student of Louis Persinger, Ricci played his first solo recital at Carnegie Hall at the age of eleven and was a noted interpreter of Paganini. A celebrated teacher himself, Ricci also taught at the universities of Michigan and Indiana, the Juilliard School, and Salzburg Mozarteum.

Between 1951 and 1972, Ricci appeared with the Orchestra on numerous occasions in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Milwaukee, and a complete list of his appearances is below (all concerts in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

November 8 and 9, 1951
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
Rafael Kubelík, conductor

August 5, 1954, Ravinia Festival
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Georg Solti, conductor

August 7, 1954, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Concerto for Vioin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Paul Tortelier, cello
Georg Solti, conductor

July 5, 1962, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, Op. 47
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D
Walter Hendl, conductor

Ruggiero Ricci in 1965 (Getty Images)

December 19 and 20, 1963
GINASTERA Violin Concerto, Op. 30
Walter Hendl, conductor

December 21, 1963
PAGANINI Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6
Walter Hendl, conductor

June 30, 1964, Ravinia Festival
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

July 2, 1964, Ravinia Festival
LALO Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21
André Previn, conductor

February 27, 1971
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82
WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22
Irwin Hoffman, conductor

January 6 and 7, 1972
January 10, 1972 (Pabst Theater, Milwaukee)
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
John Pritchard, conductor

On July 18, 2018, Riccardo Muti led the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini in a concert at the Ravenna Festival, in tribute to Ricci’s centennial. The program included Rossini’s Overture to Il viaggio a Reims, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, and Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 4 in D minor, featuring Wilfried Hedenborg—a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic for almost three decades and a student of Ricci’s at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in 1989—as soloist.

 

Byron JanisSending happy ninetieth birthday wishes to the legendary pianist Byron Janis!

Between 1952 and 1974, Janis appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions at Orchestra Hall, in Milwaukee, and at the Ravinia Festival, under the batons of music directors Fritz Reiner and Jean Martinon; associate conductors Walter Hendl and Irwin Hoffman; Ravinia Festival music directors Seiji Ozawa and James Levine; and guest conductors Leonard Bernstein, André Cluytens, Igor Markevitch, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Hans Rosbaud, Joseph Rosenstock, William Steinberg, Leopold Stokowski, Willem Van Otterloo, and David Zinman.

Janis made his debut with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 10, 1952, in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting.

Two years later—a few weeks shy of his twenty-sixth birthday—he first performed in Orchestra Hall on March 4 and 5, 1954, in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Fritz Reiner on the podium. “If you have it, you have it, and Mr. Janis does,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune following his debut. “He has good fingers, a direct approach, and a good tone. He has temperament and fire and he wants, perhaps more than anything else in the world, to play the piano. You can always tell that by the sound. It comes out in the explosions of the double octaves, in the instinctive sensing of the crest of a phrase, in the way a Russian song suddenly knows pain, which is not quite the same thing as being sad. Because of these things, because he is such a pianist, his Tchaikovsky was big, beautiful, and dynamic, yet with all its tensions it sensed the relaxed sweep of the grand style. Few things could be more stupid than to patronize such playing, which Reiner and the orchestra gave superb collaboration, part Russian song, part Russian bear. When I look forward to what that playing can be, I am speaking of it in Janis’s own terms. Give him time to strengthen those fingers, to deepen and polish that tone. But listen as he does it, for he is worth hearing now.”

He most recently appeared with the CSO in Orchestra Hall on April 20 and 21, 1967, in Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto and Strauss’s Burleske with Irwin Hoffman conducting, and at the Ravinia Festival on August 15, 1974, in Saint-Saëns’s Fifth Piano Concerto under the baton of David Zinman.

Janis also made several recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as follows:

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded March 2, 1957, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

Byron Janis’s complete RCA catalog—including his recordings with the CSO—recently was re-released in a box set.

STRAUSS Burleske for Piano and Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded March 4, 1957, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded February 21, 1959, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

LISZT Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded February 23, 1959, in Orchestra Hall by RCA

PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Irwin Hoffman, conductor
Recorded by WFMT on April 20 and 21, 1967, in Orchestra Hall
Released in 1995 on From the Archives, vol. 10: Great Soloists

Happy, happy birthday!

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus onstage in March 1959. Also pictured is chorus director Margaret Hillis, music director Fritz Reiner, and associate conductor Walter Hendl.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus onstage in March 1959. Also pictured is chorus director Margaret Hillis, music director Fritz Reiner, and associate conductor Walter Hendl (Oscar Chicago photo).

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus first performed Sergei Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky at Orchestra Hall on March 5, 6, and 10, 1959. Fritz Reiner conducted and Rosalind Elias was the mezzo-soprano soloist.

“The fever and excitement latent in this muscular music originally part of the score for the Sergei Eisenstein movie was brought out by Reiner gradually with a slow-fuse sort of detonation,” according to Donal Henahan in the Chicago Daily News. “The climactic Battle on the Ice was approached with expansive calm and deliberation, and thus aroused the audience’s martial blood properly. A conductor who tries to pile climax after climax into this work can never achieve the hair-raising thrust that Reiner drew from Margaret Hillis’s Chicago Symphony Chorus [singing in English] at such a moment. No one can write a march like Prokofiev, and it was grand to hear this one played with power but without hysterics. The Chorus, although called on for less heroic vocal effort than in some other works it has sung, produced a pleasing sound in all voices and a more homogeneous tone than at any time since Miss Hillis began her missionary work in Chicago.”

Nevsky album cover

The subsequent RCA release—the first recording collaboration with the Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus—was made on March 7, 1959, at Orchestra Hall.

This article also appears here.

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biography

April 7 and 8, 1960

Two years after winning the prestigious 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Van Cliburn made his first appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on April 7 and 8, 1960, performing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with Fritz Reiner conducting. On April 12 he was soloist in Schumann’s A minor concerto with the Orchestra, also with Reiner on the podium.

“Van Cliburn cannot be accused of looking for the easy road to success,” wrote Donal Henahan in the Chicago Daily News following the first performance of Brahms’s concerto. The twenty-five year-old pianist gave “a performance of glitter and grace, and one that was breathtakingly well played . . . perhaps no one but Horowitz today could play those double-note scales in both hands with as much apparent ease.”

recording

RCA’s release of Schumann’s Piano Concerto, recorded in Orchestra Hall on April 16, 1960

Cliburn would appear four more times during Reiner’s tenure, and their performances of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in April 1963 were Reiner’s last public appearances. Cliburn later appeared in Chicago under Jean Martinon as well as at the Ravinia Festival with Georges Prêtre, Seiji Ozawa, Donald Johanos, Bruno Maderna, and James Levine. His final appearance with the Orchestra was on July 16, 2005, at Ravinia in Grieg’s Piano Concerto, under festival music director James Conlon.

On the RCA label, he made several recordings with the Orchestra, including Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth concertos, Brahms’s Second, Rachmaninov’s Second, and Schumann’s concerto with Reiner; and MacDowell’s Second and Prokofiev’s Third concertos with Walter Hendl.

A complete list of Van Cliburn’s appearances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found here.

This article also appears here.

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Bartok album cover

At the third annual Grammy ceremony on April 12, 1961, the Orchestra’s recording of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta received the award for Best Classical Performance–Orchestra. Fritz Reiner had conducted the RCA release. That same evening, the Orchestra’s recording of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto—also on RCA and with Erich Leinsdorf conducting—earned the award for Best Classical Performance–Concerto or Instrumental Soloist for Sviatoslav Richter. These were the first two Grammy awards earned for recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Reiner’s commitment to the music of Bartók—one of his teachers at the Liszt Academy in Budapest—was “unmatched by any other contemporary composer, for Reiner had an understanding and devotion of Bartók’s music that no other conductor of his time equaled,” according to Philip Hart in Fritz Reiner: A Biography. He and the Orchestra had first recorded music by Bartók on October 22, 1955: the Concerto for Orchestra. Along with the composer’s Hungarian Sketches, Reiner and the Orchestra recorded the Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta at Orchestra Hall on December 28 and 29, 1958.

Richter album cover

Richter made his U.S. debut with the Orchestra on October 15, 1960, in Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, and the work was recorded in Orchestra Hall two days later with Leinsdorf conducting. Reiner originally was scheduled to lead both the concert and recording; however, he suffered a heart attack in early October, forcing the cancellation of several concerts and recording sessions (including MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with Van Cliburn, also for RCA and ultimately led by associate conductor Walter Hendl). Reiner returned to the podium in January 1961.

Since 1961, recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have earned sixty-two Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

This article also appears here.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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

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