Adrian Da Prato, long-serving CSO musician, dies at 94
Adrian Da Prato, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's violin section from 1946 until his retirement from the CSO in 1996, died on Tuesday in Chicago, according to a statement released by the orchestra on Wednesday. He was 94.
The Italian-born, Chicago-bred Da Prato was one of the longest-serving members of the orchestra, logging 49 years of service under seven music directors, from Desire Defauw to Daniel Barenboim.
He was a violinist in the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Chicago in 1946 when Defauw hired him.
Da Prato particularly cherished his friendship with Carlo Maria Giulini, the orchestra's revered principal guest conductor from 1969 to 1972. Their friendship dated from 1955 when the Italian maestro arrived in Chicago for his American debut.
Giulini spoke little English, and Da Prato was asked to help translate for him. As the violinist recalled, "There was no real problem, because the rapport between the orchestra and maestro Giulini was such that words really were not necessary."
Born in 1920 in the Tuscan region of Barga, Italy, Da Prato became fascinated with the sound of the violin while attending silent movies as a boy. The films were accompanied by piano and violin, and invariably his attention was drawn from the screen to the violinist in the pit, he later recalled.
Da Prato began violin lessons at age nine after his family arrived in America. In Chicago he attended Lane Technical High School and the American Conservatory of Music, whose teachers he remembered for encouraging talented students to exchange ideas. His violin teachers included John Weicher, then concertmaster of the CSO.
After being inducted in the 33rd Infantry Division in World War II, Da Prato later was assigned to special services in Hawaii, where he performed for the troops. He also was a member of the Chicago Strings, which toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, and performed in various chamber ensembles in the Chicago area.
His violin was a Peter Guarnerius of Mantua, Italy, dated 1710.
In a 1970s interview, Da Prato reflected warmly on his career with the CSO, likening its "unity of purpose" to that of a great string quartet whose members play together on a daily basis, live together on tours and thus become attuned to one another, as persons and musicians.
an old bottle of wine, (an orchestra) has to have a good vintage
to start out with, then it reaches a point where its fullness is realized,"
Da Prato is survived by his niece, Paula Bertolozzi, and several grand-nieces, great-grand-nieces and great-grand-nephews.
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Wilbur H. Simpson, 79, Bassoonist for Symphony
Jerry Thomas, Tribune Staff Writer CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Wilbur H. Simpson (December 6. 1917 - June 17, 1997) a former bassoonist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra who also taught bassoon at Chicago area universities, died Tuesday at his summer home in Platte Lake, Mich.
Mr. Simpson, a resident of Evanston, was the orchestra's second bassoonist for 45 years, retiring in 1991.
He started playing the bassoon in high school in Angola, Ind., and later continued his studies at Northwestern University. After graduating with a degree in music education, Mr. Simpson taught instrumental music in Forest Park before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After being involved in seven naval battles in the South Pacific, he was one of 30 band members to play at the formal Japanese surrender ceremony aboard the battleship Missouri in 1945.
Mr. Simpson then returned to Northwestern and received a master's degree before joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Woodwind Quintet.
Mr. Simpson taught bassoon at Northwestern, DePaul University and the Chicago Conservatory of Music before retiring from teaching in the mid-1980s.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret; three children, Michael, Jeffrey and Joan Andler and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in the Alice Millar Chapel on Northwestern's Evanston campus.
== Text of both items is from the Chicago Tribune. Photos are from other sources.
Walter Johannes Damrosch (January 30, 1862 – December 22, 1950) was a German-born American conductor and composer. He is best remembered today as long-time director of the New York Symphony Orchestra and for conducting the world premiere performances of George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F (1925) and An American in Paris (1928). Damrosch was also instrumental in the founding of Carnegie Hall. He also conducted the first performance of Rachmaninov's third piano concerto with Rachmaninov himself as a soloist.
Damrosch was the National Broadcasting Company's music director under David Sarnoff, and from 1928 to 1942, he hosted the network's Music Appreciation Hour, a popular series of radio lectures on classic music aimed at students. (The show was broadcast during school hours, and teachers were provided with textbooks and worksheets by the network.) According to former New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg in his collection Facing the Music, Damrosch was notorious for making up silly lyrics for the music he discussed in order to "help" young people appreciate it, rather than letting the music speak for itself.
Founded in 1921 by State Street businessman and bass player George Lytton [shown in photo at left] as the Chicago Business Men's Orchestra, membership was drawn from the business and professional men who worked in the downtown area. These men were not only successful businessmen but also accomplished musicians.
The Orchestra had an excellent reputation, giving local amateur players an opportunity to perform a varied repertoire of classical music. By 1941, when the orchestra consisted of 115 Chicagoans, 25 of its players were presidents or vice presidents of local businesses. However, through the first twenty years the membership included accountants, doctors, engineers, a farmer, a postman; in fact, anyone who could be chosen from the waiting list of 200 hopefuls.
Concerts were played in Orchestra Hall under the direction of such noteworthy conductors as Frederick Stock, Rafael Kubelik, and Igor Stravinsky. Eventually, the Chicago Business Men's Orchestra became known as the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
© 1990 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on December 13, 1990. Portions were broadcast on WNIB the following month. This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.