Chicago Tribune, August 25, 1920

The Nineteenth Amendment—giving women the right to vote—passes the House of Representatives on May 21 and the Senate on June 4, 1919, and is ratified on August 18, 1920. Chicago’s League of Women Voters soon parade through the city, encouraging women to register to vote in upcoming presidential election.

The influenza epidemic in Chicago first appeared at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station on September 8, 1918, and two weeks later, cases began appearing within the city. At the height of the epidemic in October, all of the city’s theaters—including Orchestra Hall—movie houses, and night schools were ordered closed, disrupting the CSO season for two weeks. By the epidemic’s end in November, over 50,000 cases of influenza and pneumonia had been reported. The article is here.

Prokofiev’s program biography, December 1918

During Sergei Prokofiev’s first visit to America, he appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on December 6 and 7, 1918, in two U.S. premieres: as soloist in his First Piano Concerto (under the baton of assistant conductor Eric DeLamarter) and conducting his Scythian Suite.

December 16 and 17, 1921

Prokofiev returns to Chicago and performs as soloist with the Orchestra on December 16 and 17, 1921, giving the world premiere of his Third Piano Concerto with Frederick Stock conducting. Two weeks later, he leads the Chicago Opera in the world premiere of his The Love for Three Oranges at the Auditorium Theatre on December 30.

On July 27, 1919, seventeen-year-old Eugene Williams, an African American, was swimming in Lake Michigan when he crossed the unofficial barrier at 29th Street between the city’s “black” and “white” beaches. A group of white men pelted stones at Williams and he soon drowned. Black eyewitnesses identified the aggressors when the police arrived, but they refused to arrest them. News of the event spread and violence soon erupted, primarily in the city’s South Side neighborhoods. Riots, shootings, and arson attacks continued through August 3, leaving nearly forty dead, over 500 injured, and more than 1,000 black families homeless. The article is here.

On October 9, 1919, the Cincinnati Reds clinch their first World Series victory, winning game eight against the Chicago White Sox, amid suspicions that the games had been fixed. A grand jury convenes in September 1920 and indicts eight White Sox players who, though acquitted in 1921, are permanently banned from the game. The article is here.

Chicago Tribune, January 15, 1920

The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified on January 16, 1919 authorizing prohibition of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol, beginning the following year. The amendment’s passing on December 17, 1917, was possible in part due to the wave of anti-German sentiment. Since many of the nation’s beer brewers were German, Prohibition became closely tied to American patriotism. The amendment is repealed on December 5, 1933, with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment.

First Children’s Concert program and Anita Malkin

On November 20, 1919, Frederick Stock leads the first of a regular series of Children’s Concerts specifically designed to introduce young Chicagoans to music. After hearing several auditions from promising young instrumentalists, Stock chooses eight-year-old Anita Malkin to become the first youth soloist on a Children’s Concert, and she performs the first movement of Rode’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestra on February 12, 1920.

Sergei Rachmaninov (Kubey-Rembrandt Studio, Library of Congress) and Orchestra Hall in the summer of 1920

January 23 and 24, 1920, Sergei Rachmaninov is soloist in his Third Piano Concerto. Frederick Stock conducts.

During the summer months, Orchestra Hall frequently was used as a movie house, and in 1920, Paramount PicturesHumoresque—a silent film based on Fannie Hurst’s short story—enjoyed a multi-week run.

On December 31, 1920, Frederick Stock leads the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, less than two months after the world premiere in London. Stock also leads the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony on April 15, 1921.

Chicago American, December 19, 1921

On December 18, 1921, Richard Strauss returns to Chicago to lead the Orchestra in a special concert at the Auditorium Theatre. The program includes his Also sprach Zarathustra, Death and Transfiguration, and the love scene from his opera Feuersnot, along with several songs—“Morgen!,” “Wiegenlied,” “Freundliche Vision,” and “Ständchen”—with soprano Claire Dux.

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A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.

This article also appears here. For event listings, please visit cso.org/armistice.

This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.

Additional thanks to Shawn Sheehy and Jenna Harmon, along with the Arts Club of Chicago, Newberry Library, Poetry Foundation, and Ravinia Festival Association.

TOP: Chicago’s Welcome to Our Heroes, Kaufmann & Fabry. Looking south from the Art Institute, a parade of American soldiers marches up Michigan Avenue. Orchestra Hall—complete with movie marquee—can be seen at the far right. (United States, 1919) | Image: Pritzker Military Museum & Library