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From the CSO’s Archives: Great Music From Chicago
Episode 1 — Jean Martinon & Isaac Stern


Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

Recorded on March 4, 1962

In March 1962, Jean Martinon was in Chicago for three weeks of concerts, and two months later, he would be named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s seventh music director. In this televised performance, filmed at WGN studios during that residency, he led the Orchestra in Handel’s Concerto grosso in G Minor, the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mozart’s First Violin Concerto featuring Isaac Stern.


Music@Menlo’s :

Ara Guzelimian, host: Former faculty member of Isaac Stern’s chamber music workshops
David Finckel and Wu Han: Music@Menlo Artistic Co-Directors and teaching colleagues of Mr. Stern
Erin Keefe: Participant in the last chamber music workshops led by Mr. Stern
Michael Stern: Son of Isaac Stern; Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony

From Edith Hall Friedheim

It was the early 1970s. I was a young pianist performing and teaching in New York City.

By some miracle, Lee Lamont, Isaac Stern’s agent, hired me as a part-time assistant to type – from a dictating machine – Mr. Stern’s replies to the hundreds of letters he received every week.

At the end of each day the great violinist would stop at my desk to ask how many letters were ready for his signature. “I’m working on one”, I would reply. In truth, 

my secretarial skills were non-existent, and in less than two weeks, the boss called me into his office for a chat. Here is what transpired:

“You might not know, Edith, that I had a serious heart attack a year ago”.

“Yes, Mr. Stern. I know.” 

“And my doctor tells me I must hire a full-time Assistant.”

“Oh, I certainly can work full time, Mr. Stern.”

“Edith, you have much more important work to do as a pianist and teacher. I would never forgive myself if I were even to consider taking you away from that.”

I left Mr. Stern’s office feeling ten feet tall. The Great Man was sacrificing his own comfort and convenience for my career! Just imagine!

Two years later I was walking down Broadway when suddenly I realized Isaac Stern had fired me. He had found a way to do it without in the slightest damaging my dignity, self-confidence, or pride. I had been taught a most meaningful lesson by a master not only of the violin, but of diplomacy, tact, and with an extraordinary compassion for the feelings of one young, inexperienced and utterly incompetent secretarial candidate!

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    Images courtesy of Images courtesy of the Carnegie Hall Archives / Estate of Isaac Stern., Getty Archive and Carnegie Hall Archive