Obituary: Valerie Solti, “first lady” of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 83

Posted on: April 7, 2021

“If Sir Georg Solti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1969 to 1991, could be an imposing presence, his wife was the balance,” writes Doug George in Friday’s (4/2) Chicago Tribune. “ ‘She thought of us as her family,’ said violist Li-Kuo Chang, a longtime musician with the CSO…. Lady Valerie Solti died Wednesday at home in London, according to an announcement from the CSO. She was 83. Her principal role was as first lady of the CSO, a role to which she was devoted, said Frank Villella, director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Rosenthal Archives…. Born in England on Aug. 19, 1937, Valerie Pitts studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art…. It was as an arts journalist for a BBC program in 1964 that she first met Georg Solti, then music director at London’s Royal Opera…. They were married in 1967… [She] frequently appeared on stage at Orchestra Hall. She served as narrator for children’s concerts, hosted the centennial gala concert in 1990 and the Orchestra Hall centennial concert in 2004…. With the couple’s daughters Gabrielle and Claudia, she created the … Solti Foundation … to assist young professional musicians.… Along with her daughters, Valerie Solti is survived by her four grandchildren.”