In 1977, John von Rhein came to Chicago from Akron, Ohio, to become the Chicago Tribune’s classical music critic.
“My central aim was to give the reading public an informed yardstick of opinion by which they could measure their own reactions to a given performance,” he wrote in a farewell column.
During his 40-year tenure at the Tribune, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has had three music directors: Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Muti. Von Rhein offers his views on the impact of each maestro, as well as the critical role Lyric Opera General Manager Ardis Kranik played in rebuilding that organization.
He also shares some anecdotes about Vladimir Horowitz and a conductor’s wife who got angry with von Rhein over an unflattering review of her husband.