Chicago Symphony Concertmaster Samuel Magad Retires Today After 34 Years

Classic Arts News   Chicago Symphony Concertmaster Samuel Magad Retires Today After 34 Years
Samuel Magad, for 48 years a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and for 34 of those years its concertmaster, steps down from his post today.

He is the longest-serving concertmaster in the orchestra's history.

The 73-year-old violinist told The Chicago Tribune's John von Rhein that he felt able to continue playing, but that he wanted to retire while his powers were still intact: "I decided that, considering my age and length of service, this was the best time to let it go. I also figured that with Daniel Barenboim leaving at the end of last season, it was just as well that I left too. I've had many music directors in my time, and I didn't want to start with another one. And I certainly didn't want anybody muttering behind my back, 'Why doesn't he go home, already?'"

A precocious musician who made his CSO debut at age 11 after he won the orchestra's youth auditions, Magad joined the orchestra's first violin section in 1958. He was appointed assistant concertmaster in 1966 by Fritz Reiner and concertmaster by Georg Solti in 1972. He first appeared as soloist that year with the CSO playing Mozart's Fifth Violin Concerto with Solti conducting. He has since performed regularly as soloist with the CSO under Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Rafael Kubelik and James Levine.

Magad founded the Illinois-based Northbrook Symphony, where he was music director and conductor for twenty years; he was also the concertmaster of the Aspen Festival Orchestra, where he performed for thirteen years as soloist, chamber musician and conductor.

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