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Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the remarkable Estonian composer Arvo Pärt!

Arvo Pärt (Press Service photo)

Following the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances of the composer’s Third Symphony in 1989, John von Rhein wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “We must be grateful to Neeme Järvi [to whom the work was dedicated] for introducing us to this fascinating and utterly individual composer, and for doing so in a performance of such power, accuracy, and dedication. . . . [Pärt’s] spare ritualistic austerity (deeply rooted in medieval modes and harmonies) [is] strongly beholden to the cadences of Machaut and other fourteenth and fifteenth-century music [and] speaks with a communicative fervor.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has performed several works by Pärt in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and at Wheaton College. A complete list of performances is below.

November 22, 24, 25, and 28, 1989, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Symphony No. 3
Neeme Järvi, conductor

July 18, 1992, Ravinia Festival
PÄRT Symphony No. 2
James Conlon, conductor

April 15, 16, 17, 18, and 21, 1998, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Donald Runnicles, conductor

May 6, 7, and 8, 2004, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Fratres
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Yuan-Qing Yu, violin

January 22, 23, and 24, 2009, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Symphony No. 4 (Los Angeles)
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

February 11, 12, 13, and 16, 2016, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Orient & Occident
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor

April 20, 22, and 23, 2017, Orchestra Hall
April 21, 2017, Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College
PÄRT Fratres
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Robert Chen, violin

Happy, happy birthday!

Daniel Barenboim leads the applause following the world premiere of Ran’s Legends for Orchestra on October 7, 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to composer Shulamit Ran!

During her tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s second composer-in-residence from 1990 until 1997, she worked closely with music directors Sir Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim, along with principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez. Born in Tel Aviv, Ran became the second woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her Symphony in 1991.

Works by Ran have been performed by the Orchestra—all in Orchestra Hall—on several occasions, as follows:

October 20, 21, 22, and 25, 1988
RAN Concerto for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

December 12, 13, 14, and 17, 1991
RAN Chicago Skyline
Pierre Boulez, conductor
World premiere. Commissioned by WFMT in celebration of the radio station’s fortieth anniversary

The world premiere performance of Legends was released on Albany Records in 2007

October 7, 8, and 9, 1993
RAN Legends for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
World premiere. Commissioned for the centennials of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the University of Chicago by the AT&T Foundation and Meet the Composer Orchestra Residencies Program

October 26, 27, and 28, 1995
RAN Symphony
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

June 3, 4, 5, and 8, 2004
RAN Legends for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

A staunch advocate for contemporary music, Ran laid the groundwork for the creation of MusicNOW, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new music concerts, and her works have been programmed on the series as follows:

January 24, 2001
RAN Mirage
Cliff Colnot, conductor
Mary Stolper, flute
Larry Combs, clarinet
Baird Dodge, violin
Katinka Kleijn, cello
Amy Dissanayake, piano

Shulamit Ran (Dan Rest photo)

May 8, 2006
RAN Fault Line
Cliff Colnot, conductor
Tony Arnold, soprano
Jennifer Clippert, flute and piccolo
Michael Henoch, oboe
Eric Mandat, clarinet and bass clarinet
Wagner Campos, clarinet and bass clarinet
David Griffin, horn
Christopher Martin, trumpet
Joseph Rodriguez, trombone
Vadim Karpinos, percussion
Michael Kozakis, percussion
Amy Dissanayake, piano
Nathan Cole, violin
Akiko Tarumoto, violin
Yukiko Ogura, viola
Kenneth Olsen, cello
Michael Hovnanian, bass
World premiere. Commissioned for MusicNOW

October 2, 2017
RAN Birkat Haderekh—Blessing for the Road
J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet
Yuan-Qing Yu, violin
Kenneth Olsen, cello
Winston Choi, piano

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy ninetieth birthday on September 8, 2019, to legendary German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi! For nearly forty-five years, he has been a frequent guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as follows:

Christoph von Dohnányi (Terry O’Neill photo for Decca)

January 31, February 1, and 2, 1974, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto D Minor, Op. 47
György Pauk, violin
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

February 7, 8, and 9, 1974, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Overture, Scherzo, and Finale, Op. 52
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Anthony and Joseph Paratore, pianos
LIGETI Lontano
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

April 5, 6, and 7, 1979, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93

April 12, 13, and 14, 1979, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 11
HENZE Symphony No. 5
SCHOENBERG Erwartung, Op. 17
Anja Silja, soprano

May 22, 23, and 24, 1980, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
SCHOENBERG Six Songs with Orchestra, Op. 8
Anja Silja, soprano
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120

March 4, 5, and 6, 1982, Orchestra Hall
RIHM Tutuguri II, Music after Artaud
HANDEL/Schoenberg Concerto for String Orchestra and Orchestra
Chicago Symphony String Quartet
Victor Aitay, violin
Edgar Muenzer, violin
Milton Preves, viola
Frank Miller, cello
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

Christoph von Dohnányi (Andreas Garrels photo)

November 7, 8, and 9, 2002, Orchestra Hall
IVES The Unanswered Question
Craig Morris, trumpet
LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 6, 7, and 8, 2004, Orchestra Hall
PÄRT Fratres
Yuan-Qing Yu, violin
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (Classical)
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

July 2, 2004, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Emanuel Ax, piano
IVES Three Places in New England
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

May 11, 12, and 13, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Emanuel Ax, piano

November 1, 2, 3, and 4, 2007, Orchestra Hall
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
Arabella Steinbacher, violin
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

November 19, 20, 21, and 22, 2009, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Divertimento for String Orchestra
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Paul Lewis, piano
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

July 14, 2011, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Emanuel Ax, piano

July 15, 2011, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Emanuel Ax, piano

July 11, 2013, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Emanuel Ax, piano

July 12, 2013, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Emanuel Ax, piano

May 1, 2, and 3, 2014, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Paul Lewis, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

June 9, 10, and 11, 2016, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Martin Helmchen, piano
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to John Corigliano!

The recipient of numerous honors—including a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, the Grawemeyer Award, and multiple Grammy awards—Corigliano served as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence from 1987 until 1990.

The Orchestra first performed Corigliano’s Concerto for Piano in February 1969, with Sheldon Shkolnik as soloist and acting music director Irwin Hoffman on the podium. Under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, the Orchestra performed the Concerto for Clarinet with Larry Combs, as well as the Tournaments Overture on concerts in Orchestra Hall and during the 1985 tour to Europe, performing the work in Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, and London.

On March 15, 1990, music director designate Daniel Barenboim led the world premiere of Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, jointly commissioned for the Orchestra’s centennial by the Chicago Symphony and the Meet-the-Composer Orchestra Residencies Program.

“During the past decade I have lost many friends and colleagues to the AIDS epidemic, and the cumulative effect of those losses has, naturally, deeply affected me. My First Symphony was generated by feelings of loss, anger, and frustration,” wrote Corigliano in the program note for the premiere. “A few years ago, I was extremely moved when I first saw ‘The Quilt,’ an ambitious interweaving of several thousand fabric panels, each memorializing a person who had died of AIDS, and, most importantly, each designed and constructed by his or her loved ones. This made me want to memorialize in music those I have lost, and reflect on those I am losing.”

The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—featured principal cello John Sharp and, offstage, pianist Stephen Hough. The recording was recognized with two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition. Barenboim programmed the symphony again in 1992, also taking it on tour to Carnegie Hall, Madrid, and London.

Corigliano’s First Symphony also has been performed at the Ravinia Festival under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach in 1996 and Marin Alsop in 2003; Eschenbach also led performances in Orchestra Hall in 1998.

With the Orchestra, Neeme Järvi conducted the Pied Piper Fantasy with Sir James Galway; Eschenbach led The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra with Joshua BellWilliam Eddins conducted Phantasmagoria on The Ghosts of Versailles; and Leonard Slatkin has led Three Hallucinations, Fantasia on an Ostinato, and The Mannheim Rocket.

To celebrate Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday in 1987, associate conductor Kenneth Jean led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Corigliano’s Campane di RavelloWritten while on vacation in Ravello, Italy, the composer remarked, “On Sundays, the multitude of churches in Ravello and the surrounding towns play their bells, each in a different key and rhythm. The cacophony is gorgeous, and uniquely festive. My tribute to Sir Georg attempts to make the sections of the symphony orchestra sound like pealing bells: that tolling, filigreed with birdcalls in the woodwinds, provides the backdrop for a theme that grows more and more familiar as it is clarified. At the end, it is clear and joyous—a tribute to a great man.”

Jean also led the work on the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990, and current music director Riccardo Muti conducted it on September 19, 2015, on the Symphony Ball concert launching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 125th season.

Corigliano and Stephanie Jeong at the Harris Theater on October 2, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

MusicNOW, the Orchestra’s contemporary music series, kicked off its twentieth season on October 2, 2017, at the Harris Theater with a concert celebrating past composers-in-residence. Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek honored their predecessors by programming works by Anna Clyne, Osvaldo Golijov, and Mark-Anthony Turnage, along with—in attendance—Mason Bates, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, and Corigliano.

CSO violins Yuan-Qing Yu and Hermine Gagné, viola Danny Lai, and cello Kenneth Olsen performed Corigliano’s A Black November Turkey (in the composer’s string quartet arrangement), and violin Stephenie Jeong soloed in the Red Violin Caprices. The Chicago Classical Review’s Lawrence A. Johnson observed, “Jeong delivered a powerful tour de force performance, sensitively serving the pages of introspective melancholy and throwing off Corigliano’s artful retake on nineteenth-century Paganini-esque fiddle fireworks with blazing virtuosity and panache. It was wonderful to see the veteran composer join the CSO’s young associate concertmaster for a double curtain call.”

And next season, in January 2019, Thomas Hampson will perform the song “One Sweet Morning” from Corigliano’s song cycle One Sweet Morning, commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bramwell Tovey will conduct.

Happy, happy birthday!

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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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