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September 21, 2010

This Day in UMS History: New York Philharmonic and Seiji Ozawa with Andre Watts (September 21, 1969)


Editor’s note: The New York Philharmonic returns to Ann Arbor for three performances October 9-11, 2015.

This Day in UMS History

September 21, 1969
Hill Auditorium

New York Philharmonic
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
André Watts, piano

Overture to Il Seraglio – Mozart
Concerto No. 3 in d minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 30 – Rachmaninoff
Concerto for Orchestra – Bartok

Seiji Ozawa has been in the news often lately, most recently for the celebration of his 75th birthday on September 1 this year, and on his anticipated return to the podium after battling esophageal cancer and undergoing surgery for it in January. Maestro Ozawa has performed six times at Hill Auditorium: he made his UMS debut in November 1966 while music director of the Toronto Symphony (and returned with them the following season in March 1968), came back again in September 1969 for this concert with the New York Philharmonic and Andre Watts, and returned three more times as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in April 1975, March 1983, and February 1996.

At a young 21 years-old in 1969, this concert marked André Watts‘ UMS debut, beginning a rich history of orchestral, chamber music, and recital appearances in Ann Arbor.  At the time, his musical career was growing rapidly, having just signed a long-term exclusive contract with Columbia Masterworks Records.  Mr. Watts returned to Ann Arbor for three May Festival appearances (1971 and 1976 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy, and in 1992 with the Detroit Symphony and Neeme Jarvi, four recitals (1974, 1982, 1986, and 1988), and two chamber music concerts in 1993 and 1997.  Mr. Watts joined the faculty of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2004.

One of my most memorable orchestral performances in my own concert-going history was in February 2005 when the New York Philharmonic returned to Ann Arbor (for their 13th of 16 UMS appearances) for a performance of one of my favorite symphonies: Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. My first classical recordings were a set of Rachmaninoff’s complete works for piano and orchestra that I “borrowed” from my grandmother’s music collection. Can you imagine how excited I am to hear next month’s Mariinsky Orchestra performances of Mahler Fifth Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto?

A video performance of André Watts performing the Rachmaninoff d-minor Concerto is not available, but you can listen to a clip of his famous (and rare!) “Ossia” Finale here, performed with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Seiji Ozawa:

You can also purchase the full recording here.

“This Day in UMS History” is an occasional series of vignettes drawn from UMS’s historical archive. If you have a personal story or particular memory from attending the performance featured here — or any memories of the appearances by the New York Philharmonic, Seiji Ozawa, or Andre Watts in Ann Arbor — we’d love to hear from you in the comments!