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After 12 years, a Chicago homecoming for Daniel Barenboim / WTTW

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It has been 12 years since conductor Daniel Barenboim last stepped onto the podium at Symphony Center to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And the orchestra's mighty massing of stellar musicians has shifted considerably since he served as its music director from 1991 to 2006. But on Monday, at an intimate press conference celebrating his return visit to the city, Barenboim expressed his delight at what will be a two-part homecoming.

First, he will stand in front of the CSO again for three performances (Nov. 1, 2 and 3) of "Ma Vlast" ("My Homeland"), a collection of six symphonic poems by the 19th century Czech composer Bedrich Smetana that evoke the history, legends and landscape of Bohemia.

"I chose that work for three reasons," said Barenboim, who will be celebrating his 75th birthday on Nov. 15. "First, I love it. Second, I grew up listening to a CSO recording of it from the early 1950s, which was conducted by Rafael Kubelik [music director of the CSO from 1950 to 1953], and I even found a video of him conducting part of the work on YouTube. Finally, I wanted to conduct a work I had never done in all my 36-year-long association with the CSO, and that was not easy to do."