History

Throwback Thursday: Seiji Ozawa & Igor Stravinsky

In 1965 the legendary Igor Stravinsky sat down with then-Ravinia Music Director Seiji Ozawa to discuss his upcoming program. On the evening of July 8, Stravinsky, along with protégé Robert Craft, led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a program including Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B-flat Major* (arranged by Schoenberg) and two of his own works: the Symphony in Three Movements and The Fairy’s Kiss (Le baiser de la fée). What a treat for the audience that evening!

*In the repetoire archive, Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra was supposedly performed in place of the Handel piece, but it has not been independently confirmed yet.

Ravinia Throwback: Frank Zappa 8/6/1969

The legendary Frank Zappa performed at Ravinia only twice in 1969 and 1970. In his career, Zappa produced an astounding 60 plus albums between his work with The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. We lost this amazing talent at only 52 years old, but post-mortem honor after honor rolled in solidifying him as the true music icon that his fans already knew he was.
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43 Years Later... Janis Joplin Remembered

On October 4, WTTW's Chicago Tonight ran the second of a two part story on their ArtsBeat blog about the 43rd anniversary of Janis Joplin's untimely death at the age of 27. Chicago journalist Dorothy Andries recalls her first-hand experience of covering Joplin's last Chicago-area show for Pioneer Press on August 4, 1970 at Ravinia, just a mere two months before her passing. Just the day before her Ravinia performance she was a guest on The Dick Cavet show and put on one heck of a performance!

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A Party Fit For A King

But which King are we talking about?

A.)   The King of Rock—Elvis Presley
B.)    The King of Pop—Michael Jackson
C.)    The King of Soul—Sam Cooke

Sorry, but the correct answer is none of the above. On the Friday, June 14 we welcome you to join in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the King of Swing’s debut performance at Ravinia Festival. Benny Goodman single handedly influenced the modern programming style of Ravinia; the incorporation of jazz and popular music. In his spare time he also took the stage of the countries’ most famed venues with the first integrated big band. His legendary live performances at the Palomar Ballroom, the Congress Hotel, Carnegie Hall, and Ravinia Festival made him an ambassador for jazz music and its beloved fans.

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Ravinia Remembers CSO Trumpet Legend Adolph 'Bud’ Herseth

Ravinia remembers and salutes the legendary trumpet player Adolph “Bud” Herseth, who died April 13 at 91 years old. In the Chicago Tribune obituary, John von Rhein called Herseth “the most respected and influential orchestral trumpeter of the last half-century, and very probably the greatest.” Hired by the CSO’s then-Music Director Artur Rodzinski in 1947, Herseth would serve as the orchestra’s principal trumpet for 53 years, retiring from that post on the Ravinia stage in 2001, but continuing in an emeritus role until his retirement in 2004. As demonstrated in this YouTube video, Herseth was seen by many as synonymous with the CSO’s legendary brass sound.

"For a man who made such a magnificent sound, Bud was reluctant to blow his own horn," said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman. "But when I organized the New York Philharmonic tribute marking Bud's 50th anniversary in music, I witnessed firsthand the love and respect for him shared by audiences and other music-makers like fellow trumpet legend Wynton Marsalis. Bud never had to tell them who he was or what he brought. They knew."

Photo courtesy of csoarchives.wordpress.com

Legendary Pianist Van Cliburn Passes

Ravinia deeply regrets the passing of legendary pianist Van Cliburn, who debuted at Ravinia in 1965 and returned for an additional six performances. Every one of his appearances was truly a gala event. He is seen here with then-Senator Barack Obama at the 2005 Gala Benefit Evening, his last performance at Ravinia.

Just Talked To Princess Aurora, And It Was...

I just had the most marvelous phone call from soprano Mary Costa, about whom I blogged recently after discovering she had made her Chicago area debut at Ravinia the year after the release of Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty, for which she provided the voice and figure model for the title character. After posting that blog, I Googled her and wrote to her in her native Knoxville, TN, where she had helped launch the Knoxville Opera in 1978 and starred in its inaugural production, Verdi’s La Traviata (the same role in which she had made a triumphant 1964 Metropolitan Opera debut). I was requesting a photo I’d like to frame along with a lovely thank-you note she had written to me for some archival research I did for her while I worked for San Francisco Opera many years ago. I had hoped merely that someone, perhaps a secretary, would send me a photo; instead, she called me direct at Ravinia, and we spent a delightful quarter-hour discussing everything from current styles of opera production and the future of opera to recent movies and my own harpsichord studies. Her interest in me was genuine and touching, and left me feeling positively ebullient for the rest of the day. How wonderful to be able to tell my friends: I just talked with Princess Aurora!

John Schauer
Associate Director of Communications, Publications

Sudden Loss of Marvin Hamlisch Takes Many By Surprise

It was just under a month ago that Idina Menzel was joined by the legendary Marvin Hamlisch conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It saddens us deeply to hear that Marvin Hamlisch passed away yesterday at the age of 68. Hamlisch has appeared at the festival 7 times since 1991, and he was far from slowing down with positions held at Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Pops, Seattle Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and, starting next week, the Philadelphia Orchestra. Hamlisch was a prolific composer as well, working on such films as The Way We Were (which he won an Oscar), Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People, Ice Castles, and The Informant!. In his career Hamlisch has taken home just about every award an artist can, winning three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes and even a Pulitzer Prize for the landmark musical A Chorus Line. He is an irreplaceable talent, and will be greatly missed.

You Will Be Missed Etta James

It has been six years since Etta James took the stage at Ravinia Festival, opening for Tom Jones. Her health has been declining over the past couple months, and we regret to hear that Etta James has lost the fight with her health, and passed this morning. She was most famous for her single "At Last" and was considered by many to be one of the most overlooked jazz and blues musicians in music history. Her passing comes just three days after the death of the man who first discovered her talent, Johnny Otis. These talents are irreplaceable, and will never be forgotten.

Ravinia Throwback: The Beach Boys

As part of a continuing Ravinia off-season series we bring you the next issue of Ravinia Throwback. We will feature galleries from previous Ravinia seasons that you may not be able to find anymore. Whether you happened to be a guest at this performance or not, Ravinia Throwbacks give you the opportunity to (re)live moments in Ravinia history.

In this issue we feature Beach Boys from September 2002. They put on a very energetic and entertaining show, even asking audience members to join them on stage. Enjoy this gallery and check back next week for our next featured artist in Ravinia Throwbacks.

See full galleries at: Picasa or Flickr

Ravinia Throwback: Steve Martin

As part of a new Ravinia off-season series we bring you our first (official) Ravinia Throwback. We will feature galleries from previous Ravinia seasons that you may not be able to find anymore. Whether you happened to be a guest at this performance or not, Ravinia Throwbacks give you the opportunity to (re)live moments in Ravinia history.

In this issue we feature Steve Martin. He wowed the Ravinia audience during our 2010 season with his banjo virtuosity. Enjoy this gallery and check back next week for our next featured artist in Ravinia Throwbacks.

 

Click here to see the full gallery.