Of all his many orchestras, how did Sir Georg feel about the Chicago Symphony and in what terms did he used to speak of them?

He spoke about them with enormous admiration. “They can do anything I ask them to do, technically and musically,” he used to say. They were the most fantastic ensemble and they fitted together so well that they were able to respond exactly to the music-making he wanted. They had, and still have, an extraordinary brilliance of technique and were so dedicated in performance. Everything they did had to be the best they could do. They had a real enthusiasm for the works they played and great respect for the composers. To give you an example, they would notice details in the scores.

One day they were playing a work by Bartók and in the interval, Gordon Peters, who was the principal percussionist, said “Could I speak to you? There’s something I can’t quite work out”. He brought his part over – this was in the break – and he said “There’s something here, you see, on my metronome speed. What have you got in your marked score?” So they looked and they found there was a...

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