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Fellner

Austrian pianist Till Fellner is in Chicago this week to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 22 with the Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink. And in between rehearsals, he visited the Rosenthal Archives to do a little research on his great-grandfather’s brother’s son—that would be his first cousin twice removed—Hugo Kortschak, who was a former violinist and assistant concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Here’s a summary of what Fellner discovered:

Kortschak's advance program biography for his March 1912 performances

Kortschak’s advance program biography for his March 1912 performances

After studying violin with Otakar Ševčík and composition with Antonín Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory, Hugo Kortschak (1884–1957) briefly was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic. He soon moved to Frankfurt to accept a position with the Museums Quartet and to be an instructor with Hugo Heermann‘s violin school. In 1906 (possibly 1907), he followed Heermann to Chicago, when the latter accepted a post at the Chicago Musical College; and upon his arrival, Kortschak accepted an invitation from second music director Frederick Stock to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the 1907–08 season. He briefly returned to Europe to pursue further study before coming back to Chicago as assistant concertmaster in 1910 through 1912 and (following a European concert tour in 1912–13) again for the 1913–14 season. While in Chicago, he founded the Kortschak Quartet in 1913 which, with the encouragement of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, became the Berkshire String Quartet. After his tenure in Chicago, Kortschak later was head of the violin department at Yale University and in his retirement was a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Kortschak also was soloist with the Orchestra on several occasions—all with Stock conducting—as follows:

March 17 and 18, 1911
AULIN Violin Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 14

March 22 and 23, 1912
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218

December 5 and 6, 1913
NOREN Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 38 (U.S. premiere)

October 30 and 31, 1914
GOLDMARK Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 28

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