From the CSO’s Archives: The First 130 Years, the latest radio/online series showcasing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, begins Sept. 22 for a 15-week run. The Tuesday-night series, which coincides with the start of the CSO’s 130th season, will be broadcast on WFMT-FM (98.7) from 8 to 10 p.m. (Central) and will be streamed on wfmt.com and the station’s app (wfmt.com/app).
Curated by Frank Villella, director of the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, the series focuses on the CSO’s extensive discography, with recordings from virtually every era in the ensemble’s history. WFMT personality Kerry Frumkin, the series’ host, will offer commentary for featured selections. From the CSO’s Archives: The First 130 Years supplements the nationally syndicated CSO Radio Broadcast Series, airing weekly on Sunday nights over WFMT and streaming on wfmt.com.
The new series allows listeners to rediscover the recorded legacy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, beginning with its first commercial release in May 1916: Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other highlights include Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, led by Bernard Haitink in 2007 during his first season as principal conductor; the Grammy Award-winning disc of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, from 1988, under Leonard Bernstein in his final CSO podium appearances; David Del Tredici’s Final Alice, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, and a Halloween-inspired program that opens with a 1968 recording of Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, led by Seiji Ozawa.
Program details follow for the series’ first six programs:
Sept. 22, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Firsts: The series begins with the CSO’s first recording, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, made for the Columbia Graphophone Co. in 1916 under second music director Frederick Stock. Other CSO milestones noted in this episode: Wagner’s A Faust Overture, the first work the CSO performed at its inaugural concerts in 1891, heard here in a 1991 recording under former music director Daniel Barenboim; Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, performed at the 1904 opening concert in Orchestra Hall and heard in a 1977 recording with former music director Sir Georg Solti; Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the first work performed on the inaugural Ravinia Festival program in 1936 and featured here on a 1992 Daniel Barenboim disc, and the CSO’s first recording of a Gustav Mahler symphony, the composer’s Fourth, led by former music director Fritz Reiner in 1958 with soprano Lisa Della Casa.
Sept. 29, Haitink Conducts Bruckner 7: Esteemed maestro Bernard Haitink leads the CSO in Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, recorded in his first season as principal conductor in 2007 and later issued as the second release on the CSO Resound label. Works by Wagner, the Overture to Tannhäuser and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde from mid-’70s commercial recordings featuring Sir Georg Solti, the CSO’s eighth music director, complete the program.
Oct. 6, Bernstein in Chicago: In 1988, iconic American composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein made his final appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony. The program was released as a live recording by Deutsche Grammophon and received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Opening the program are Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, conducted by ninth music director Daniel Barenboim.
Oct. 13, Mozart & Del Tredici: The program is anchored by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer David Del Tredici’s Final Alice, self-described as an “opera, written in concert form” and inspired by the final chapters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Commissioned by the CSO to celebrate the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, it received an enthusiastic reception at its world premiere, led by Sir Georg Solti, and featuring American soprano Barbara Hendricks. Decca recorded the CSO in the work and released the disc three years later. Recordings of Mozart works, led by Fritz Reiner and Daniel Barenboim, complete the program.
Oct. 20, the CSO Plays Richard Strauss: Throughout its history, the CSO has performed the works of Richard Strauss, including concerts conducted by the composer himself at Orchestra Hall. This program, led by music directors Désiré Defauw, Fritz Reiner, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Georg Solti, features recordings of a Strauss tone poem, concertos and operatic selections. Dale Clevenger, former principal horn, is soloist in a 1998 recording of the First Horn Concerto, while pianist Claudio Arrau is soloist in Burleske from 1946.
Oct. 27, Liszt & Berlioz: This pre-Halloween program evokes colorful hallucinations, eerie scenes and orchestral power with Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, Rachmaninov’s The Isle of the Dead and Liszt’s Totentanz. The program ends with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, complete with its March to the Scaffold and Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath.
For more information about CSOradio broadcasts, please visit cso.org/radio.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association acknowledges Bank of America for its special support of the CSO Radio Broadcast series.