The Men and Women of The Cleveland Orchestra
1993 SPECIAL CITATION FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE TO THE ARTS
Some day, there maybe be young boys and girls
who will wait outside Severance Hall hounding the picolo player for an
autograph. Some day, when a new principal trombonist is named, the
announcement in the hall, "Now playing for
Cleveland . . . ," will be met with a great roar from the audience.
whatever the ups and downs of Cleveland's sports teams have been,
throughout it all, for nearly a century, the city has been superbly and
supremely represented all over the world by the Cleveland Orchestra.
“There is general agreement that, among the 325 professional orchestras in America, the old pantheon of the Big Five—the orchestras of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago—still holds,” wrote editor and writer Charles Michener in a 2005 New Yorker article. “The Cleveland is the only one with a collective identity. . . . ”
reviews the world over, over many years, the orchestra has not only
been seen as consistent, but as consistently outstanding.
however, is really a “they,” which is why in 1993 the Cleveland Arts
Prize recognized the musicians as individuals when it awarded the
Special Citation for Distinquished Service to the Arts to "the men and
women of the Cleveland Orchestra,” so as to honor not just the 105
musicians who were members of the orchestra in its 75th anniversary
year, but the 800 or so players who had ever numbered in its
ranks. While the “collective identity” of which Michener wrote has
helped to burnish the orchestra’s—and by extension, the
city’s—reputation, it has also fostered the near-anonymity of its
players that obscures the excellence and the artistry each brings
to each concert.
previous to the awarding of the citation, at least one man was content
to consider the orchestra entirely of a piece: George Szell. In a 1963
article in Time Magazine, the Cleveland Orchestra's legendary musical director called the ensemble “this glorious instrument—an
instrument that perfectly reflects my musical ideals.” During his
innovative quarter-century tenure, Szell enlarged the orchestra,
extended the performing season to year-round and inaugurated
international tours that further extended the orchestra’s reach and
reputation. Musical directors since then have broken new ground in
performances, recordings, tours and residencies, perpetuated the
orchestra’s commitment to educational and community outreach and
restored Severance Hall, the orchestra's home since 1931.