Ormandy in China: The Historic 1973 Tour
Ormandy in China
The Orchestra as Tourists

The orchestra came to China to be seen and heard, but they were also interested in exploring a country that had been inaccessible to most Westerners for decades. Their hosts were eager to oblige. Most stops on the carefully planned tourist itinerary were of interest; others-like the visit to a commune-were obligatory stops to be endured.

During their unscheduled time, orchestra members were free to roam the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, where one of them said they felt as exotic as giraffes," eliciting stares and giggles from onlookers. The Chinese were curious, but they were also friendly and welcoming. One afternoon, the orchestra's three trombonists took a Frisbee to a courtyard outside the hotel, and as they began throwing the disc, they caught the attention of a group of children. More Frisbees were pulled out of a bag, and soon the children were throwing them back and forth across the courtyard. The discs were left with the children, who had to be convinced that they could take them.

In Shanghai, violinist Robert De Pasquale was walking down a residential street when he heard, high above him, scales being played on a violin. As he looked up and listened, a crowd formed, and Pasquale motioned toward a balcony. The crowd shouted to attract the attention of the violinist, and a nine-year-old boy emerged. Once he had made his way down from the balcony, Pasquale gave him a lesson in the street, carefully correcting his hand position and approving of his bow technique.

Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra tour the Forbidden City
Beijing, 15 September 1973
The first sightseeing stop for the orchestra was Zijin Cheng (Purple Forbidden City"), located in the middle of Beijing. It served as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty (1420-1644) to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and was the home of twenty-four emperors.
Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Summer Palace
Beijing, 17 September 1973
Front row, beginning seventh from the left: flutist Murray W. Panitz (in checked shirt), board president C. Wanton Balis (in white shoes), Mrs. C. Wanton Balis, concertmaster Norman Carol (with arms crossed), and conductor Li Delun. Bassoonist Bernard Garfield is third from the right (in dark shirt).
The Summer Palace, located in northwest Beijing, is the largest and bestpreserved imperial garden in China, featuring villas, pavilions, and temples surrounding a central lake. The group is standing in front of the octagonal tower on Longevity Hill. While at the palace, the orchestra was served a seven-course lunch (including sea slugs) in the courtyard of a pavilion that had once been an imperial theater.
C. Wanton Balis, Gretel Ormandy, and Eugene Ormandy on the Great Wall
18 September 1973
The trip to the Great Wall, about an hour's drive north of Beijing, was one of the only times that Ormandy joined the orchestra for sightseeing during the tour. Throughout his career, Ormandy usually declined opportunities to explore the cities he visited. He typically left the hotel only to go to the concert hall for a rehearsal or performance. His wife once said, I've been all over the world. I haven't seen a thing. I spent all these tours in a hotel room with Gene." According to Edward D. Viner, the orchestra's physician, Ormandy would take a nap in the afternoon, and at five o'clock he would have a very, very light meal, and he was there to conduct the Orchestra. That was the business of the time. He wouldn't spend his energy doing these other things."
Daniel Webster
Eight Musicians Undergo Acupuncture
Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 September 1973
A few months before the tour, Theodore Hauptle, a member of the stage crew, tripped at the Saratoga Music Festival and hurt his elbow. In Beijing, he described the ailment to acupuncturist Dr. Chang Shu-wen, who stuck a needle in his hand and his elbow, and the pain disappeared. After news of the treatment spread, several orchestra members made appointments with Dr. Chang, who set up an office in the orchestra's hotel. Dr. Edward D. Viner, the orchestra's physician, later said, As a doctor there, I expected I would be very busy. I hardly saw anybody on that trip. They were all running around. No one got intestinal illness. Everybody ran off to the local acupuncturist."
Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra on the Huangpu River
Shanghai, 22 September 1973
On their last day in Shanghai, members of the orchestra took a three-hour cruise down the Huangpu River to the point where it flows into the Yangtze River. According to Daniel Webster, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphians ate apples and bananas as the erhus, sona, and sheng rattled and sang through folk songs and dances. China is rich in virtuoso players on these instruments."
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