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Swift Bridge of Service  bandshell, date  (Chicago Tribune archive photo)

Eric DeLamarter and the Orchestra onstage at the Swift Bridge of Service bandshell, July 1, 1934 (Chicago Tribune archive photo)

A Century of Progress International Exposition—the World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of the city of Chicago—opened on May 27, 1933, and due to its immense popularity, was extended through October 31, 1934, attracting nearly fifty million visitors.

Beginning on July 1, 1934, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented 125 concerts at the Swift Bridge of Service, which linked the mainland with Northerly Island at 23rd Street. For ten weeks, the Orchestra regularly presented as many as fourteen concerts each week—a matinee at 3:30 p.m. and an evening concert at 8:00 p.m. every day of the week—only occasionally canceling due to extreme heat or rain and rarely repeating repertoire.

Weimer Pursell, silkscreen print by Neely Printing Co., Chicago

Image by Weimer Pursell (1906–1974), featuring the fair’s Government Building

Associate conductor Eric DeLamarter, who conducted more than two-thirds of those concerts, led the first program on Sunday afternoon, July 1. He conducted the Orchestra in Wagner’s Huldigungsmarsch, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Parlow’s arrangement of two of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, Thomas’s Overture to Mignon, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien, Glazunov’s Ruses d’amour, and dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor.

Guest conductors included Jerzy Bojanowski, Carl Bricken, Henry Hadley, Sir Hamilton Harty, Victor Kolar, Karl Krueger, Anthony A. Olis, Frank St. Leger, Willem van Hoogstraten, and Henry Weber. Several Orchestra members were featured as soloists, including concertmaster John Weicher, viola Clarence Evans, principal cello Daniel Saidenberg, cello Richard Wagner, principal bass Vaclav Jiskra, and principal harp Joseph Vito.

Frederick Stock led the final concert on Saturday evening, September 8, conducting his transcription of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Ravel’s La valse, his arrangement of the love scene from act 2 of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

This article also appears here.

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After the Europe Tour 2020, Riccardo Muti joined the Orchestra again for a three-week CSO residency in February that included the Florida Tour 2020 and two programs at Symphony Center. In celebration of the Music Director’s time with the Orchestra during the past two months, please enjoy this video featuring Maestro Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in an excerpt from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, featuring mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as Santuzza. 🎥@toddrphoto
Opening with the most famous four notes in all of classical music, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is featured on this CSO program led by Riccardo Muti, along with the composer’s Second Symphony and the world premiere of Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy, a new work by Nicolas Bacri featuring the CSO’s own bass clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom as soloist. #Beethoven250 📸@toddrphoto
“In four years, I had been in five orchestras,” said CSO Bass Clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom about the beginning of his orchestral career. As a clarinetist, he never set out to play the bass clarinet, but there just happened to be orchestral positions for the instrument when he began seeking a job. “That is how fast the auditions were happening. But by then, I had really started to realize that the bass gave me a voice I’d never had.” J. Lawrie Bloom takes center stage this week in Orchestra Hall for the world premiere of Nicolas Bacri’s Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti. #MusicianMonday 📸@toddrphoto

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