For our Chicago-themed month: What was the most important Chicago musical event of your lifetime and why?
There are too many to name, but if I had to make a stab at it:
Riccardo Muti’s Carmina Burana made my teenaged son fall in love with the CSO. Months later, when Maestro Muti took it to Millennium Park (in the rain), my second teenaged son fell in love with the CSO. Now they both eagerly attend concerts.
Being present for Israel’s poet and composer par excellence Naomi Shemer at the Chicago Cultural Center on Israeli Independence Day about 10 years ago was an amazing musical and spiritual experience that remains with me. Rabbi Len Lewy
I’m assuming that “event” doesn’t necessarily mean “concert,” because there have certainly been many memorable concerts over the years. But my vote for the single most important event would be Sir Georg Solti’s appointment as CSO music director. Yes, the CSO was a fantastic organization BEFORE Solti came along, and, yes, there are thoughtful listeners who have valid criticisms regarding his performances. But with his touring and Grammy awards, Solti really does have to get the credit for raising the CSO’s national and world-wide profile, giving it the global reputation it enjoys to this day. His appointment was truly a game-changer for the city of Chicago.
My most important musical event was attending a concert in Chicago a few years back in which Itzhak Perlman played Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in E minor – one of my two favorite composers (Mozart & Mendelssohn) being magnificently played by my favorite violinist. Such emotion coupled with such technical talent as well. Absolute perfection this side of heaven!
The most important event was the birth of WFMT as a constant source of classical music. We have been listening to it all day, every day, since 1954 !
It was Fall in 1959. The White Sox had made it to the World Series. My aunt, Genevieve Leach, who ran the Chicago Stadium for the Wirtz family, had gotten me a job with Andy Frain as an usher. Besides getting paid to see the World Series , I also was assigned at the Stadium to guard the dressing room for the women skaters for the annual ice show. While on a break, I took the opportunity to watch a bit of the ice skating performance. Some very lovely skaters took the ice and began a brilliantly choreographed dance and the accompanying music swelled. Hearing a wonderful tenor begin the aria,”Celeste Aida” stunned me. It was my first exposure to any operatic rendering and the combination of the music and ice dancing brought me to tears in its beauty. I can still see and hear that performance inside of me after all these years.
Thank you for bringing back to me one of my all-time favorite seminal life moments.
God bless you.
My most important Chicago musical event was when I took my 15 year old niece and her friend to hear the Beatles live in white sox park in the sixties. Needless to say, I didn’t hear too much with the all the screaming teenagers but we still talk about it today and many young people are awed that we saw and heard them live. I still love the Beatle’s music. Also, I saw Nureyev live at lyric doing Swan Lake. Both are high in my music memories!
Lynn Sove Maxson
For me, one of the most important musical events was the 1971 CSO performance of the Mahler 8th Symphony, conducted by Georg Solti. I was in the CSO Chorus at the time, and I vividly remember that the performance was at the Civic Opera House rather than Orchestra Hall, presumably because they didn’t think they could fit all the performers on stage at the CSO’s regular venue (the Symphony is nicknamed the “Symphony of a Thousand,” after all!). The extra brass were positioned behind the chorus, and when they came in at the end of both movements, the sound was incredibly glorious! Talk about surround sound!
It’s very difficult to narrow down, but I would have to say that the most
important Chicago musical event of my lifetime has unequivocally been Matthew
Lipman’s June 2013 performance of Benjamin Britten’s “Lachrymae”, Op. 48.
Somehow, Lipman managed to dazzle the audience with the few notes provided in
the score. From the first note he played, it was clear that it was a performance
that would define a generation of Lachrymae-performances.
Attending a Simon & Garfunkel concert in Chicago with a girlfriend (my parents dropped us off and picked us up). I can’t recall the venue, but I was in high school at the time (late 1960s) and felt very “grown-up” to be allowed to attend a concert of my choosing, especially one in the city. Seeing these beloved vinyl artists in person made a huge impact on me, and was influential in launching a life-long love affair with live music.
The establishment of a world class opera company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, in 1954.
In the years before that, annual opera offerings at the Civic Opera House were
very uneven with what seemed to be ad hoc touring companies coming to Chicago (one
or two a year, it seemed), to present several performances of a single opera within a week or on a weekend. These touring companies always had one or two well known singers in lead roles. The reviews were usually moderately complimentary, as I remember. The orchestra was composed largely of local
musicians, with possibly a core of first chair musicians touring with the company for stability.
Regarding “Most Important Musical Event ?: It’s a tie!
Peter Reinhard’s suggestion, “…the Birth of WFMT…,” in my moderately humble opinion, deserves to share the top spot with Lyric Opera. I am sure, to Chicagoland music lovers, they are both absolutely necessary to the cultural health; emotional well being; and ( considering the times we’re living in) the sanity of the city.
Note: Looking at the “year of origin” for both entries (1954), One might conclude there was a
“whole lot of sanity” flowing through that part of the atmosphere lying over Chicago
My important musical event occurs every evening as I listen to the excellent programming provided by Bill McGlaughlin. I’m a former Chicagoan and now live in Tucson Arizona. Each evening I sit on my patio and face the mountain range while listening to Bill’s music and it’s a wonderful way to end the day. I so appreciate the fine music. What a contrast to all the junk we’re subjected to everywhere. Thankyou so much. I dread the day when this last vestige of peace and harmony comes to an end.
I was just in Maine listening to the classical music station in Bangor, Waterville, and Portland. One of the announcers was tearfully saying goodbye to Maine and hello to her new station, WFMT, in Chicago. Can you tell me more about this?
Difficult to choose but certainly one of the most exciting was hearing & seeing Itzhak Perlman at Orchestra Hall playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. WFMT you are the greatest…Thank you for the last 38 years that you have shared with me !
Will you play “The Lumberjack Song” by Monty Python for a Labor Day tribute?
Pete Seeger as the worlds most well-known player????? Um, Earl Scruggs comes to mind.
I think you play the Academic Festival Overture and Haydn Variations way too often. Brahms wrote so much more wonderful music……..We hardly ever hear his songs……could use more chamber music as well….
You got that right Steve, thanks! How about an all-Brahms day with lots of his wonderful songs?
In times of sorrow, I find consolation in the music and lyrics of the Beatles’ “Let it Be” as well as Sibelius’ Finlandia. Also, quite a few Latvian folk songs have beautiful lyrics and melodies that are comforting.
Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne in Semiramide-Rossini.