“The Cleveland Orchestra marks its centennial today,” writes Tom Huizenga on Tuesday (12/11) at National Public Radio. “As befits the humble organization … there is no performance or celebration scheduled tonight. (There was a gala concert back in September.) … When it debuted on Dec. 11, 1918, Cleveland’s Symphony Orchestra, as it was then called, was small: just 55 part-time musicians…. Franz Welser-Möst, who grew up in Linz, Austria, has been the Cleveland Orchestra’s music director for the past 16 years. One of the very first recordings he was given as a child was a Cleveland Orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony conducted by [George] Szell. The Szell years, he says, were very different times. ‘It was a reign of terror, basically,’ Welser-Möst says with a chuckle.… Welser-Möst adds, ‘He was all about precision and balance, and he got the orchestra to play in a way which was … really extraordinary.’ ” Says Donald Rosenberg, author of The Cleveland Orchestra Story: Second to None, “This orchestra was nurtured by a community that really wanted to hear symphonic music on the highest level. It took several generations for that to be accomplished. But once it was accomplished it’s never turned back.”

Posted December 17, 2018