In May 1904, Chicago Orchestra founder and first music director Theodore Thomas led his final Cincinnati May Festival concerts at Music Hall. Since founding the festival in 1873, Thomas had regularly led concerts, inviting his Chicago Orchestra after its founding in 1891.

Programming for the five-concert festival was nothing short of epic and included orchestral works, opera excerpts, and large-scale choral works. The Orchestra had been expanded to over 110 players and the May Festival Chorus numbered over 500. And to conclude the final concert, Thomas had chosen Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Read more: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – “one colossal work”