Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".[1] Founded in 1891, the Symphony makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival. The music director is Riccardo Muti, who began his tenure in 2010.



In 1891 Charles Norman Fay, a Chicago businessman, invited Theodore Thomas to establish an orchestra in Chicago. Conducted by Theodore Thomas under the name "Chicago Orchestra", the Orchestra played its first concert on October 16, 1891 at the Auditorium Theatre. It is one of the oldest orchestras in the United States, along with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Orchestra Hall, now a component of the Symphony Center complex, was designed by Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham and completed in 1904. Maestro Thomas served as music director for thirteen years until his death shortly after the orchestra's newly built residence was dedicated on December 14, 1904. The orchestra was renamed "Theodore Thomas Orchestra" in 1905 and today, Orchestra Hall still has "Theodore Thomas Orchestra Hall" inscribed in its façade.

In 1905, Frederick Stock became music director, a post he held until his death in 1942. The Orchestra was renamed "Chicago Symphony Orchestra" in 1913.

Other music directors have included Désiré Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim.

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