A snapshot, and a story

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The 1909 snapshot which inspired Corigliano Jr. (left); the grown-up elder Corigliano, circa 1940s, courtesy of the New York Philharmonic Digital Archives (right).

After last night’s touching performance of the work by Chicago’s own Civitas Ensemble, I’ve found it difficult to get John Corigliano’s 2003 string quartet Snapshot: Circa 1909 out of my head.

The brief, nostalgic quartet is the composer’s musical response to an old photograph of his father and uncle playing a duet together—father on violin, uncle on guitar. The image becomes all the more poignant knowing that John Corigliano Sr. would go on to become an accomplished violinist—the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, in fact. He would lead the orchestra for 23 years.

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A minute with the maestro

Riccardo Muti shares a laugh with CSO program note annotator Philip Huscher. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Last week, we Dia[loge]s authors had the experience of a lifetime: interviewing CSO music director Riccardo Muti before his public appearance at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts (pictured above, alongside Philip Huscher). You can see a picture of MJ and me with the maestro on our “About” page.

During Muti’s five years as music director, the CSO has visibly increased its civic outreach and seen an idiosyncratic shift in programming, which emphasizes neglected pieces from the 19th- and 20th century (especially during this season).

Muti spoke to both of these during his time with us, articulating what an orchestra’s role in society should be and defending his programming against critics dismayed by the lack of contemporary music.

It was an unforgettable conversation. You can read the published interview here.