Saturday, October 28, 2017

Toscanini at Music Hall

Did you know that one of the most acclaimed conductors of the past century, Arturo Toscanini, conducted a concert at Music Hall in 1943? On the program was Robert Schumann’s Manfred Overture, Johannes Brahms’ Symphony #2, music from Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and more.

The Music Hall celebratory concerts wrap up next weekend with the ensemble for whom the hall was originally built – the May Festival Chorus. They will collaborate with the CSO in a program including Bach’s Magnificat, Brahms’ Triumphlied, and a world premiere by Julia Adolphe. Concerts are Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

John Adams at Music Hall

Today’s star is one you very likely have seen inside Music Hall yourself, as this famous composer and conductor has appeared in Cincinnati multiple times in recent years! One recent appearance was in 2015, when Adams conducted the CSO premiere of his “Scherherazade.2” written for and performed by violin soloist Leila Josefowicz.

What’s happening this weekend at Music Hall? The Cincinnati Ballet has their opening weekend inside the newly-renovated space. They present Romeo and Juliet alongside the CSO. Performances begin tonight at 7:30pm, followed by Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6:30pm. More here

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Saint-Saens at Music Hall

In celebration of the re-opening of Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall after an extensive  renovation, Clef Notes is spending the month of October looking at many of the “big names” who have performed in the hall over the years. So far, we’ve mentioned Mstislav Rostropovich, Richard Strauss, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Igor Stravinsky.

Can you name another star who made an appearance in Music Hall during the early twentieth century? What about Camille Saint-Saens, who came to Cincinnati as conductor and soloist in his Second Piano Concerto in 1906?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stravinsky at Music Hall

Another classical music sensation, Igor Stravinsky, graced the Music Hall stage multiple times during the twentieth century. At one such concert in 1965, the famous composer and conductor is remembered conducting his own composition, The Fairy’s Kiss.

What’s happening this weekend at Music Hall? The CSO and Cincinnati Opera join forces in the final installment of the Pelleas Trilogy with director James Darrah. Naomi O’Connell, Philip Addis, Russell Braun, and Nancy Maultsby are soloists. Concerts are Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rachmaninoff at Music Hall

This month, Clef Notes is taking a look at a few of the international stars who have performed inside Music Hall throughout its rich history. We are also highlighting the various celebratory performances that take place in the hall as part of its grand re-opening events this month.

Did you know that the great pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff performed on the Music Hall stage not once, but three times? In 1910, he performed his Second Piano Concerto alongside the CSO. He returned the following season and years later during the 1937–38 season. He even was offered the position of music director in 1918, but politely declined. He preferred to further his career as a traveling virtuoso.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Leonard Bernstein at Music Hall

Did you know that famed conductor, composer, and pianist Leonard Bernstein made his Cincinnati debut on the stage of Music Hall in 1945? He was just 26 at the time! He would appear again multiple times over the years in Cincinnati, in the 40s, and again in the 70s.

What’s happening this weekend as part of the grand re-opening events at Music Hall? John Morris Russell leads the Cincinnati Pops in music by John Williams including Star Wars! Audiences will also enjoy a world premiere of an unpublished work by Williams – the theme from Schindler’s List adapted for orchestra and solo cello. Concerts are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Aaron Copland and Music Hall

Did you know that Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man was premiered by our very own Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra back in 1943 on the stage at Music Hall? The conductor at the time, Eugene Goossens, commissioned eighteen composers to write fanfares as a contribution to the WWII war efforts. One of these fanfares began each concert of the CSO’s 1942–1943 season. Of these fanfares, Copland’s remains the most famous today. Prior to its premiere, Copland wrestled over the title, considering Fanfare for the Spirit of Democracy, Fanfare for the Rebirth of Lidice (a town in Czechoslovakia that the Nazis had destroyed), and Fanfare for Four Freedoms (in Roosevelt’s 1941 speech he mentioned four freedoms including the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.) In the end, Copland settled on Fanfare for the Common Man, saying “it was the common man, after all, who was doing all the dirty work in the war and the army. He deserved a fanfare.” Other composers who wrote fanfares for Goossens’ project included Paul Creston, Morton Gould, Howard Hanson, Darius Milhaud, Walter Piston, Bernard Rands, William Grant Still, Deems Taylor, Virgil Thomson, and Goossens himself. The CSO also presented the world premiere of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait in 1942.

Music Hall has a rich history. Let’s explore another major composer, conductor, and pianist, who performed on Music Hall’s stage multiple times during his lifetime. Join me next time to find out who this may be!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Richard Strauss at Music Hall

In celebration of the grand re-opening of Cincinnati’s Music Hall following an extensive renovation, Clef Notes is spending the month looking at a few of the international stars who have performed on its stage since its doors first opened in 1878.

Did you know that legendary composer and conductor Richard Strauss led the CSO in a concert of his own works during the 1903–04 season? The program included Don Juan, several songs, and his tone poem Tod und Verklärung. Strauss’ wife, Pauline de Ahna Strauss, appeared as the vocal soloist.

Don’t have a ticket to the grand re-opening concerts this weekend but still interested in taking a peak at the “new” Music Hall”? ArtsWave will provide a free community open house with tours of Music Hall on October 7 from 10am to 3pm. And don’t forget to tune into 91.7 WVXU or 88.5 WMUB this Saturday at 8pm for Music Hall: Welcome Home, a special radio broadcast celebrating Music Hall’s past, present, and future. Hear commentary from Louis Langree, John Morris Russell, Paavo Jarvi, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, and more, along with plenty of music! The special will also be archived at

Join me next time as we continue looking at stars from Music Hall’s past!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Rostropovich in Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall closed its doors in 2016 for an extensive and much-needed renovation. This was the first time a project like this had taken place in the hall since the mid-twentieth century. This coming weekend – October 6–7 – marks the grand re-opening of Music Hall. Music lovers will gather inside the newly-restored building for a celebratory concert featuring the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Louis Langree, and guest pianist Kit Armstrong. 90.9 WGUC featured a special radio broadcast this past weekend, informing listeners of these opening gala events, along with educating them on the hall’s past and the renovation process. If you missed this broadcast, it will repeat on 91.7 WVXU and 88.5 WMUB on Saturday, October 7 at 8pm. It will also be archived at

Part of Music Hall’s rich history includes providing a performance space for international stars. For over a century, the world’s best classical musicians have traveled through Cincinnati, performing on Music Hall’s stage. This month, I’d like to look at just a few of these stars, providing you with some fun facts about each. Feel free to comment about some of your favorites who may not be included here!

Mstislav Rostropovich was considered one of the greatest cellists during the twentieth century and Cincinnati had the great fortune to host him at Music Hall four times! This video gives a glimpse of this impressive Russian cellist.

Did you ever have the opportunity to see him perform in concert?

Who else has performed at Music Hall? Find out next time!