Recital 2:30 pm; Reception 4 pm
To celebrate the musical legacy and contributions of Rudolph Ganz (1877-1972), a series of three concerts will take place in 2019. Each concert will have a different program, different performers, and a different location in order to reach new audiences. Collaboration between The Newberry, Chicago College of the Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, the PianoForte Foundation, the Ganz family, sponsors, and donors will ensure a memorable series.
The link to register for the Newberry event on March 23 is at the bottom of this web page.
2019 Ganz Festival Series
- Sunday, February 24, (Rudolph Ganz’s birthday) at 2:30 pm, Rudolph Ganz Memorial Hall of Chicago College of Performing Arts, 430 South Michigan, 7th Floor of the Auditorium Building. Sponsored by Roosevelt University.
- Saturday, March 23, at 2:30 pm, Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, 60 West Walton. Sponsored by the Newberry Library Rudolph Ganz Fund.
- Sunday, April 28, at 2:30 pm, PianoForte Hall,1335 South Michigan. Sponsored by the PianoForte Foundation.
Recitals will feature Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Contemporary music. They include pieces by Ganz himself, some of which have never been recorded commercially and are seldom performed. Other composers featured are contemporaries of Ganz and those he knew personally, including Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Frank Martin, and Cécile Chaminade.
Performers have been invited to participate and to donate their talents. A variety of artists from students of Ganz to contemporary students in piano, vocal, and instrumental chamber music will perform.
Consult the inventory of the Rudolph Ganz papers at the Newberry.
The Rudolph Ganz Music Festival is made possible in part by a grant from the Swiss Benevolent Society of Chicago.
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About Rudolph Ganz
Rudolph Ganz (February 24, 1877-August 2, 1975) was a Swiss-American pianist, conductor, composer, and educator. A pupil of Ferruccio Busoni in Berlin, Rudolph Ganz made his piano debut as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1899. In the fall of 1900 he came to Chicago and joined the piano department of the Chicago Musical College where he succeeded Arthur Friedheim. He remained in Chicago for the next 5 years. In 1903 he made his American orchestral debut as soloist with the Chicago Orchestra under Theodore Thomas in a first Chicago performance of d’Indy’s Symphony No. 1. On March 5, 1905, Ganz became the first pianist to perform Ravel’s music in America, playing Jeux d’eau in a Chicago recital at the Music Hall, Fine Arts Building. He continued his first American performances of Ravel’s music in a New York City recital in Mendelssohn Hall on November 8, 1907, playing Oiseaux tristes and Barque sur l’océan. In 1908 Ravel dedicated Scarbo from Gaspard de la nuit to Ganz. In 1923 Ganz was awarded the French Legion of Honor for introducing Ravel and Debussy to American audiences.
From fall 1905 to spring 1908 Ganz lived in New York City and began concert tours throughout North America, Europe, and Cuba. In 1908 he moved to Berlin to teach and concertize. In 1913 Ganz began recording piano rolls for Welte-Mignon and Duo-Art, and in 1916 for Pathé. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Ganz returned to New York City and taught at the Institute of Musical Art (later The Juilliard School). In 1920 in Carnegie Hall, he conducted the New York Philharmonic in his own performance of Liszt’s E-flat Major Piano Concerto, using the Aeolian Company’s Duo-Art reproducing Weber grand piano and becoming the first pianist to conduct an orchestra for the concerto in which he played by piano roll.
In 1921 Ganz became the fourth music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. From 1921 to 1927 during his six seasons with the orchestra, Ganz never retreated from introducing diverse repertoire. His symphonic programs attracted national attention and were widely discussed in professional magazines. In 1928 Ganz returned to Chicago and rejoined the Chicago Musical College, serving as artistic director from 1930 to 1933 and then as president from 1934 to 1954. Ganz persisted in his efforts to educate audiences to new music. In 1931 he founded and conducted the National Chamber Symphony, sponsored by NBC, which was especially known for performing contemporary music. He conducted first performances with orchestras in the Chicago area, appeared on a number of popular national radio programs, and became permanent conductor of the Young People’s Concerts in New York and San Francisco from 1939 to 1948, and in Chicago from 1944 to 1946. An Associated Press release in 1938 called Ganz “a one-man force in American music” and “one of the most successful musicians with children.”
In 1954 Chicago Musical College merged with Roosevelt University and Ganz became president emeritus of the college. From 1954 until 1966 he continued teaching, gave lectures and interviews for educational radio and television, performed in joint recitals of contemporary music with mezzo-soprano Esther LaBerge including a world premiere of early Webern songs at the First International Webern Festival in Seattle in 1962, and authored a number of publications among which was Rudolph Ganz Evaluates Modern Music (1968).
In 1957 Louis Sullivan’s handsomely restored Banquet Room in Chicago’s Auditorium Building (since 1947 Roosevelt University) was renamed the Rudolph Ganz Memorial Recital Hall, and Frank Lloyd Wright came to Chicago to raise funds for the restored recital hall. Mayor Richard J. Daley named Rudolph Ganz “Honorary Ambassador of Music from Chicago to the World” in 1964 and Governor Otto Kerner in 1967 officially designated February 24 “Rudolph Ganz Day in Illinois.” In 1968 Andre Malraux, French minister of cultural affairs, awarded Ganz Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Rudolph Ganz married American soprano Mary Forrest in Berlin in 1900. They had one son, Anton Roy, who served as Swiss ambassador to the Soviet Union, among other countries. Ganz became an American citizen in 1925. After Mary died in 1956, Ganz married Esther LaBerge, concert singer and associate professor of voice at Chicago Musical College, in 1959. She had one daughter, Jeanne Colette Collester, a professor of art history.
Ganz died at the age of ninety-five, in Chicago. A newspaper headline read: “A Last link with Liszt passes on.”
Free and open to the public; registration required. Register for the Newberry event only using this online form by 11 am Saturday, March 23.
Doors open half an hour before the program begins, with first-come, first-served seating for registered attendees. If seats remain available, walk-ins will be admitted about ten minutes before the event’s start.
People with disabilities and other accessibility concerns can request to be seated first. To reserve an access-friendly space in the room, first register using the link above, then email email@example.com at least 48 hours before the event. Seats arranged in this way will be held until 10 minutes before the event starts.