On October 5, 1979, Sir Georg Solti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony at Holy Name Cathedral, given in honor of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Chicago. After the performance, Maestro Solti and co-concertmaster Victor Aitay exchanged greetings with the pontiff.

As the pope was leaving the cathedral, he was greeted by thousands of cheering Chicagoans. He gestured to the crowd, and when they became quiet, he said, “I assure you, I am not the Chicago Orchestra. I am only the pope. God bless you!”

Image above: Co-concertmaster Victor Aitay, Sir Georg Solti, and Pope John Paul II in Holy Name Cathedral on October 5, 1979 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

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