Ormandy in China: The Historic 1973 Tour
Ormandy in China
The Trip to China
The Flight

The Pan American Airways charter "Clipper Philadelphia Orchestra" flew from Philadelphia's new Overseas Terminal to Honolulu with a brief stop in San Francisco. While in Honolulu, the orchestra gathered for a social event with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, who were en route to Australia and New Zealand. In Honolulu, principal trumpet Gilbert Johnson realized that he had forgotten his passport, and once the orchestra had reached Tokyo, the departure to China was delayed while Johnson filled out paperwork for a replacement.

Nicholas Platt, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing, waited to greet the orchestra in Shanghai. With him was Situ Huacheng, concertmaster of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra, who would be hosting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Beijing. While waiting for the orchestra to arrive from Tokyo, Situ explained to Platt that the orchestra's programs-which had been negotiated extensively over the months leading up to the tour-would need to be revised further. The number of concerts was to be reduced from seven to five (three in Beijing and two in Shanghai), and the Beethoven Symphony no. 6 was to be added to the repertory.

On the flight from Shanghai to Beijing, Platt related these changes to Ormandy. According to Platt, Ormandy replied, "If that's what they want, that's what they shall have. I am in Rome and will do as the Romans. I will forget my own rules."

The orchestra arrived in Beijing at 9:00 pm to the sounds of the Central Philharmonic Chorus singing "America the Beautiful." After the welcoming ceremony, the orchestra was bused to their hotel, and orchestra officials sat down with the Chinese representatives to continue negotiating the schedule until 2:15 am. A fourth concert was added to the Beijing schedule (bringing the total from five to six), and the option of restoring the third concert in Shanghai was left open. (In the end, it remained off the schedule.) There would be a special "leadership program" in Beijing that Jiang Qing would attend. Ormandy was asked to conduct the Chinese orchestra in a rehearsal, and he agreed.

Edgar Williams
"Orchestra's Jet Heads for China"
Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 September 1973

The farewell ceremony was attended by Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, Tsien Ta-Yung of the Liaison Office of the People's Republic of China, and hundreds of family members, friends, and supporters of the orchestra.
Map of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1973 tour of China
The orchestra traveled to China via Honolulu and Tokyo. Eugene Ormandy and his wife flew to Honolulu on 6 September-four days ahead of the orchestra-to allow for a more gradual adjustment to the twelve-hour difference in time zone.

For the return trip, the orchestra flew from Tokyo to Fairbanks, Alaska. The small customs staff was unprepared to process the baggage of 130 passengers, resulting in an unexpected overnight stay for the orchestra in Alaska..

The Philadelphia Orchestra arrives in Beijing
12 September 1973
Ormandy (center) is greeted by the conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra, Li Delun. Ormandy is followed in the line by his wife, Gretel Ormandy.
Li Delun
Li Delun, the fifty-six-year-old conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra, was often at Ormandy's side during the visit to Beijing. Li was trained as a cellist and began conducting in his twenties. He was sent to the Moscow Conservatory for a four-year course in conducting that he described as "no use." In March 1973, during the visit to China by the London Philharmonic, a British journalist remarked that Li and the Central Philharmonic could play Chinese music well enough but had no idea of how to play Western music. Li was eager to have Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra hear his orchestra perform Beethoven, and a visit was scheduled for Saturday, 15 September.
Eugene Ormandy and Li Delun
Beijing, 12 September 1973
Participants in the Tour
Alphabetical list of participants, Philadelphia Orchestra 1973 tour of China
The Chinese stipulated that the orchestra's entourage could number no more than 130. The musicians accounted for 106, and the rest of the roster was filled out by orchestra officers, stage hands, medical personnel, and five members of the press.

On this list, "Harper, B., Miss" is crossed out and "Reeder, D., Miss" is added in pencil at the bottom. Both were cellists, and presumably Reeder was added as a substitute for Harper. Ormandy's wife, Gretel, is listed as "Ormandy, M., Mrs.," with the initial referring to her formal first name, Margaret.

Categorized list of participants, Philadelphia Orchestra 1973 tour of China
This list, based on the alphabetical list of participants, organizes the names according to the role played in the tour. At the end are members of the entourage who were not members of the orchestra, including orchestra staff, orchestra officers, medical personnel, members of the U.S. Department of State, and journalists. Two participants who could not be identified ("M Montanaro" and "G Janson") were presumably spouses (or other relations) who were accompanying members of the orchestra. From newspapers accounts, we know that the medical staff included a nurse-possibly "R Holmes," which is the only name that cannot otherwise be accounted for. Hornist Richard Dolph was a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music living in Memphis, Tennessee. He had previously joined the orchestra for their 1972 tour of Japan.
Introduction The Trip Repertory for the Tour Central Harmonic Society Third Concert in Beijing Orchestra as Tourists Performances by the Chinese After the Tour Sond Recordings