Chicago Symphony Orchestra

▪ American orchestra
      American symphony orchestra based in Chicago, Ill., renowned for its distinctive tone and its recordings under such conductors as Fritz Reiner and Sir Georg Solti. Founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891 as the Chicago Orchestra, it operated as the Theodore Thomas Orchestra from 1905 to 1913, when it was named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

      Its music directors have been Fredrick Stock (1905–42), Désiré Defauw (1943–47), Artur Rodzinski (1947–48), Rafael Kubelik (1950–53), Fritz Reiner (1953–62; musical adviser, 1961–63), Jean Martinon (1963–68), Irwin Hoffman (acting music director; 1968–69), Sir Georg Solti (1969–91; music director laureate from 1991), and Daniel Barenboim (from 1991). Principal guest conductors were Carlo Maria Giulini (1969–72) and Claudio Abbado (1982–85).

      The CSO is known for its emphasis on the central European repertoire. Reiner was credited with building the orchestra into a precise, world-class ensemble. Under Solti and Giulini, the CSO made a triumphant European tour in 1971. The orchestra made frequent subsequent European tours and tours of Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. During summers, the CSO is the principal orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in suburban Highland Park, Ill.

      In 1957, at Reiner's request, Margaret Hillis created and became director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the first such ensemble in the United States to be permanently affiliated with a major symphony orchestra. Duain Wolfe succeeded Hillis as director in 1994. CSO composers-in-residence have included John Corigliano (1987–91) and Shulamit Ran (from 1990).

      The CSO has premiered works by Franz Liszt, Aleksandr Glazunov, Ernest Bloch, Zoltán Kodály, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Roy Harris, Samuel Barber, Ned Rorem, Gunther Schuller, Hans Werner Henze, and Easley Blackwood.

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