The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s distinguished history began in 1891, when the city’s civic and business leaders invited conductor Theodore Thomas to establish a first-class symphonic ensemble. Introducing new music has always been one of the CSO’s central missions. Since its founding 125 years ago, the CSO has given more than 650 U.S. and world premieres. Many of these pieces have become cornerstones of the orchestral canon and CSO signature works.
To honor this tradition, Music Director Riccardo Muti has selected an impressive array of works for performance — one or more works on nearly every 2015/16 subscription program — for which the CSO gave either the world or U.S. premiere. In addition, the CSO will present the premieres of works commissioned especially for this anniversary season. Bruckner’s Te Deum, which received its U.S. premiere during the CSO’s first season, will close the 125th season in June 2016.
World and U.S. premiere works programmed for 2015/16, listed chronologically in order of upcoming performance:
· Corigliano, Campane di Ravello, world premiere in 1987 (Sept. 19)
· Elgar, In the South (Alassio), U.S. premiere in 1904 (Sept. 19)
· Charpentier, Impressions of Italy, U.S. premiere in 1893 (Sept. 24-26, 29)
· Prokofiev, Scythian Suite, U.S. premiere in 1918 (Oct. 1-3)
· Glanert, Brahms-Fantasie, U.S. premiere in 2015 (Oct. 8-13)
· Franck, Les Éolides, U.S. premiere in 1895 (Oct. 17 and 20)
· Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, U.S. premiere in 1895 (Nov. 12-14)
· Tartini, Pastorale (arr. Respighi), U.S. premiere in 1927 (Nov. 19-21 and 24)
· Scriabin, Prometheus, U.S. premiere in 1915 (Dec. 3-5)
· Dvořák, The Golden Spinning Wheel, U.S. premiere in 1897 (Dec. 17-19)
· Dvořák, The Wild Dove, U.S. premiere in 1899 (Dec. 17-19)
· Strauss, Ein Heldenleben, U.S. premiere in 1900 (Jan. 6-9, 2016)
· Ogonek, new work, world premiere* (Feb. 11-13 and 16)
· Respighi, Concerto Gregoriano, U.S. premiere in 1924 (Feb. 18-20)
· Casella, Symphony, No. 3, world premiere* in 1941 (Feb. 18-20)
· Lutosławski, Symphony No. 3, world premiere* in 1983 (Feb. 24-27 and March 1)
· Bartók, Piano Concerto No. 2, U.S. premiere in 1939 (March 10, 12 and 15)
· Sibelius, Symphony No. 2, U.S. premiere in 1904 (March 17-19)
· Debussy, Gigues, U.S. premiere in 1914 (March 31 and April 1-2)
· Elgar, Enigma Variations, U.S. premiere in 1902 (May 5, 7, 10)
· Dukas, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, U.S. premiere in 1899 (May 12 and 14)
· Stravinsky, Symphony in C, world premiere* in 1940 (May 19-20)
· Dusapin, Cello Concerto, world premiere* (May 26-29 and 31)
· Holst, The Planets, U.S. premiere in 1920 (May 26-29 and 31)
· Bruckner, Symphony No. 9, U.S. premiere in 1904 (June 23, 25, 26)
· Bruckner, Te Deum, U.S. premiere in 1892 (June 23, 25, 26)
* denotes CSO commission
Also notable is the relationship that many of the composers whose works are being performed during this 125th anniversary season had or have with the CSO. More than a dozen of them conducted or performed with the CSO as a soloist, including:
· John Adams, guest conductor in 1999.
· Béla Bartók, piano soloist in 1941.
· Alfredo Casella, piano soloist and guest conductor in 1923 and 1936.
· Antonín Dvořák, guest conductor at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.
· Sir Edward Elgar, guest conductor in 1907 and 1911.
· George Gershwin, piano soloist at the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933 and at the Ravinia Festival in 1936.
· Paul Hindemith, viola soloist in 1938, guest conductor in 1938 and 1963, and guest conductor at the Ravinia Festival in 1961.
· Sergei Prokofiev, piano soloist and guest conductor on numerous occasions between 1918 and 1937.
· Sergei Rachmaninov, piano soloist and guest conductor on many occasions between 1909 and 1943.
· Maurice Ravel, guest conductor in 1928.
· Ottorino Respighi, piano soloist and guest conductor in 1926 and 1929.
· Esa-Pekka Salonen, guest conductor on numerous occasions between 1988 and 2015.
· Richard Strauss, guest conductor in 1904 and 1921.
· Igor Stravinsky, guest conductor on numerous occasions at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival between 1925 and 1965.
Along with subscription performances honoring the 125th anniversary season, the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO has arranged for 125 performances at community sites across the city throughout the 2015/16 season. Some events will occur in schools for their students or in community venues for invited audiences, and others will be open to the public. All will be free. For most of these events, musicians from the CSO and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO’s pre-professional training ensemble, will perform chamber concerts. The 125 events include the annual Civic Orchestra community concert at the South Shore Cultural Center, and a free CSO concert led by Riccardo Muti at Millennium Park on Sept. 18. Please visit cso.org/125 for updates to the schedule of community events.
PHOTO: Detail from a cover image on a recording of Holst’s The Planets.