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This was obviously a difficult decision, and also a welcome one, as critics and colleagues alike have been aware for a few years now that Clevenger's extraordinary musical gifts had noticeably frayed. But Clevenger did not concede he was well past his prime, and his stature as an icon of the orchestra presented the CSO's players and leaders with an agonizing dilemma they did not know how to address. I wrote a column about the situation last December.
CSO music director Riccardo Muti said in a statement, "Dale Clevenger will remain in the world of music not only as a great horn player, but also as a true musician and dedicated teacher. His unique contributions to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as Principal Horn since 1966 leave a legacy that will forever be remembered and admired. I thank him for the music he has shared with me personally and I wish him great joy, peace and happiness as he begins a new chapter in his musical life, one I am sure will continue to enrich the musical world in innumerable ways."
This fall Clevenger, who has taught throughout his career, will become a full-time professor of music at Indiana University.