Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was an English conductor of Polish descent. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra and his appearance in the Disney film Fantasia. He was especially noted for his free-hand conducting style that spurned the traditional baton and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from the orchestras he directed.

Stokowski was music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony of the Air and many others. He was also the founder of the All-American Youth Orchestra, the New York City Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra.

Stokowski conducted the music for and appeared in several Hollywood films, most notably Disney's Fantasia, and was a lifelong champion of contemporary composers, giving many premieres of new music during his 60-year conducting career. Stokowski, who made his official conducting debut in 1909, appeared in public for the last time in 1975 but continued making recordings until June 1977, a few months before his death at the age of 95.

Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski LOC 26447u
Born
Leopold Anthony Stokowski

18 April 1882
London, England
Died13 September 1977 (aged 95)
Resting placeEast Finchley Cemetery
Known forMusic director of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Founder of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra
Notable work
Film: Walt Disney's Fantasia
Carnegie Hall
One Hundred Men and a Girl
Spouse(s)
Children5

Biography

Early life

The son of an English-born cabinet-maker of Polish heritage, Kopernik Joseph Boleslaw Stokowski, and his Northampton-born wife Annie-Marion (née Moore), Stokowski was born Leopold Anthony Stokowski, although on occasion in later life he altered his middle name to Antoni, per the Polish spelling. There is some mystery surrounding his early life. For example, he spoke with an unusual, non-British accent, though he was born and raised in London.[1] On occasion, Stokowski gave his year of birth as 1887 instead of 1882, as in a letter to the Hugo Riemann Musiklexicon in 1950, which also incorrectly gave his birthplace as Kraków, Poland. Nicolas Slonimsky, editor of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, received a letter from a Finnish encyclopaedia editor that said, "The Maestro himself told me that he was born in Pomerania, Germany, in 1889." In Germany there was a corresponding rumour that his original name was simply "Stock" (German for stick). However, Stokowski's birth certificate (signed by J. Claxton, the registrar at the General Office, Somerset House, London, in the parish of All Souls, County of Middlesex) gives his birth on 18 April 1882, at 13 Upper Marylebone Street (now New Cavendish Street), in the Marylebone District of London. Stokowski was named after his Polish-born grandfather Leopold, who died in the English county of Surrey on 13 January 1879, at the age of 49.[2]

The "mystery" surrounding his origins and accent is clarified in Oliver Daniel's 1000-page biography Stokowski – A Counterpoint of View (1982), in which (in Chapter 12) Daniel reveals Stokowski came under the influence of his first wife, pianist Olga Samaroff. Samaroff, born Lucy Mary Agnes Hickenlooper, was from Galveston, Texas, and adopted a more exotic-sounding name to further her career. For professional and career reasons, she "urged him to emphasize only the Polish part of his background" once he became a resident of the United States. He studied at the Royal College of Music, where he first enrolled in 1896 at the age of thirteen, making him one of the youngest students to do so. In his later life in the United States, Stokowski would perform six of the nine symphonies composed by his fellow organ student Ralph Vaughan Williams. Stokowski sang in the choir of the St Marylebone Parish Church, and later he became the assistant organist to Sir Walford Davies at The Temple Church. By age 16, Stokowski was elected to a membership in the Royal College of Organists. In 1900, he formed the choir of St. Mary's Church, Charing Cross Road, where he trained the choirboys and played the organ. In 1902, he was appointed the organist and choir director of St. James's Church, Piccadilly. He also attended The Queen's College, Oxford, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1903.[3]

New York, Paris, and Cincinnati

In 1905, Stokowski began work in New York City as the organist and choir director of St. Bartholomew's Church. He was very popular among the parishioners, who included members of the Vanderbilt family, but in the course of time, he resigned this position in order to pursue a career as an orchestra conductor. Stokowski moved to Paris for additional study in conducting. There he heard that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra would be needing a new conductor when it returned from a long sabbatical. In 1908, Stokowski began a campaign to win this position, writing letters to Mrs. Christian R. Holmes, the orchestra's president, and travelling all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a personal interview.

Stokowski was selected over the other applicants, and took up his conducting duties in late 1909. That was also the year of his official conducting debut in Paris with the Colonne Orchestra on 12 May 1909, when Stokowski accompanied his bride to be, the pianist Olga Samaroff, in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Stokowski's conducting debut in London took place the following week on 18 May with the New Symphony Orchestra at Queen's Hall. His engagement as new permanent conductor in Cincinnati was a great success. He introduced the concept of "pops concerts" and, starting with his first season, he began championing the work of living composers. His concerts included performances of music by Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Glazunov, Saint-Saëns and many others. He conducted the American premieres of new works by such composers as Elgar, whose 2nd Symphony was first presented there on 24 November 1911. He was to maintain his advocacy of contemporary music to the end of his career. However, in early 1912, Stokowski became frustrated with the politics of the orchestra's Board of Directors, and submitted his resignation. There was some dispute over whether to accept this or not, but, on 12 April 1912, the board decided to do so.

Philadelphia Orchestra

Two months later, Stokowski was appointed the director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and he made his conducting debut in Philadelphia on 11 October 1912. This position would bring him some of his greatest accomplishments and recognition. It has been suggested that Stokowski resigned abruptly at Cincinnati with the hidden knowledge that the conducting position in Philadelphia was his when he wanted it, or as Oscar Levant suggested in his book A Smattering of Ignorance, "he had the contract in his back pocket." Before Stokowski moved into his conducting position in Philadelphia, however, he sailed back to England to conduct two concerts at the Queen's Hall in London. On 22 May 1912, Stokowski conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert which he was to repeat in its entirety 60 years later at the age of 90, and on 14 June 1912 he conducted an all-Wagner concert that featured the noted soprano Lillian Nordica. While he was director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was largely responsible for convincing Mary Louise Curtis Bok to set up the Curtis Institute of Music (13 October 1924) in Philadelphia. He helped with recruiting faculty and hired many of their graduates.

Stokowski rapidly gained a reputation as a musical showman. His flair for the theatrical included grand gestures, such as throwing the sheet music on the floor to show he did not need to conduct from a score. He also experimented with new lighting arrangements in the concert hall,[4] at one point conducting in a dark hall with only his head and hands lighted, at other times arranging the lights so they would cast theatrical shadows of his head and hands. Late in the 1929-1930 symphony season, Stokowski started conducting without a baton. His free-hand manner of conducting soon became one of his trademarks. On the musical side, Stokowski nurtured the orchestra and shaped the "Stokowski" sound, or what became known as the "Philadelphia Sound".[5] He encouraged "free bowing" from the string section, "free breathing" from the brass section, and continually altered the seating arrangements of the orchestra's sections, as well as the acoustics of the hall, in response to his urge to create a better sound. Stokowski is credited as the first conductor to adopt the seating plan that is used by most orchestras today, with first and second violins together on the conductor's left, and the violas and cellos to the right.[6]

Philadelphia Orchestra at American premiere of Mahler's 8th Symphony (1916)
Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra at 2 March 1916 American premiere of Mahler's 8th Symphony

Stokowski also became known for modifying the orchestrations of some of the works that he conducted, as was a standard practice for conductors prior to the second half of the 20th Century. Among others, he amended the orchestrations of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Brahms. For example, Stokowski revised the ending of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, by Tchaikovsky, so it would close quietly, taking his notion from Modest Tchaikovsky's Life and Letters of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky (translated by Rosa Newmarch: 1906) that the composer had provided a quiet ending of his own at Balakirev's suggestion. Stokowski made his own orchestration of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain by adapting Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration and making it sound, in some places, similar to Mussorgsky's original. In the film Fantasia, to conform to the Disney artists' story-line, depicting the battle between good and evil, the ending of Night on Bald Mountain segued into the beginning of Schubert's Ave Maria.

Disney taylor stokowski
Walt Disney (crouching at left) acting out a scene in The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment in Fantasia, with Leopold Stokowski, sitting on the right, and Deems Taylor, sitting second from right.

Many music critics have taken exception to the liberties Stokowski took—liberties which were common in the nineteenth century, but had mostly died out in the twentieth, when faithful adherence to the composer's scores became more common.[7]

Stokowski's repertoire was broad and included many contemporary works. He was the only conductor to perform all of Arnold Schoenberg's orchestral works during the composer's own lifetime, several of which were world premieres. Stokowski gave the first American performance of Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder in 1932. It was recorded "live" on 78 rpm records and remained the only recording of this work in the catalogue until the advent of the LP Record. Stokowski also presented the American premieres of four of Dmitri Shostakovich's symphonies, Numbers 1, 3, 6, and 11. In 1916, Stokowski conducted the American premiere of Mahler's 8th Symphony, Symphony of a Thousand. He added works by Rachmaninoff to his repertoire, giving the world premieres of his Fourth Piano Concerto, the Three Russian Songs, the Third Symphony, and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Sibelius, whose last three symphonies were given their American premieres in Philadelphia in the 1920s; and Igor Stravinsky, many of whose works were also given their first American performances by Stokowski. In 1922, he introduced Stravinsky's score for the ballet The Rite of Spring to America, gave its first staged performance there in 1930 with Martha Graham dancing the part of The Chosen One, and at the same time made the first American recording of the work.

Seldom an opera conductor, Stokowski did give the American premieres in Philadelphia of the original version of Mussorgky's Boris Godunov (1929) and Alban Berg's Wozzeck (1931). Works by such composers as Arthur Bliss, Max Bruch, Ferruccio Busoni, Carlos Chávez, Aaron Copland, George Enescu, Manuel de Falla, Paul Hindemith, Gustav Holst, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Nikolai Myaskovsky, Walter Piston, Francis Poulenc, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Ottorino Respighi, Albert Roussel, Alexander Scriabin, Elie Siegmeister, Karol Szymanowski, Edgard Varèse, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Anton Webern, and Kurt Weill, received their American premieres under Stokowski's direction in Philadelphia. In 1933, he started "Youth Concerts" for younger audiences, which are still a tradition in Philadelphia and many other American cities, and fostered youth music programs. After disputes with the board, Stokowski began to withdraw from involvement in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1936 onwards, allowing his co-conductor Eugene Ormandy to gradually take over. Stokowski shared principal conducting duties with Ormandy from 1936 to 1941; Stokowski did not appear with the Philadelphia Orchestra from the closing concert of the 1940-41 season (a semi-disastrous performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion) until 12 February 1960, when he guest-conducted the Philadelphia in works of Mozart, de Falla, Respighi, and in a legendary performance of the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, arguably the greatest by Stokowski. The recording of this concert's broadcast had been circulated privately among collectors over the years, though never issued commercially, but with the copyright expiring at the start of 2011, it was released in its entirety on the Pristine Audio label.

Leopold Stokowski - Carnegie Hall 1947 (05) wmplayer 2013-04-16
Screenshot from the 1947 film Carnegie Hall
External audio
You may listen to Leopold Stokowski conducting Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Sergie Rachmaninoff in 1934 here on archive.org

Stokowski appeared as himself in the motion picture The Big Broadcast of 1937, conducting two of his Bach transcriptions. That same year he also conducted and acted in One Hundred Men and a Girl, with Deanna Durbin and Adolphe Menjou. In 1939, Stokowski collaborated with Walt Disney to create the motion picture for which he is best known: Fantasia. He conducted all the music (with the exception of a "jam session" in the middle of the film) and included his own orchestrations for the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria segments. Stokowski even got to talk to (and shake hands with) Mickey Mouse on screen, although he would later say with a smile that Mickey Mouse got to shake hands with him. This footage of Stokowski was incorporated into Fantasia 2000.

A lifelong and ardent fan of the newest and most experimental techniques in recording, Stokowski saw to it that most of the music for Fantasia was recorded over Class A telephone lines laid down between the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and Bell Laboratories in Camden NJ, using an early, highly complex version of multi-track stereophonic sound, dubbed Fantasound, which shared many attributes with the later Perspecta stereophonic sound system. Recorded on photographic film, the only suitable medium then available, the results were considered astounding for the latter half of the 1930s.

Upon his return in 1960, Stokowski appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a guest conductor. He also made two LP recordings with them for Columbia Records, one including a performance of Manuel de Falla's El amor brujo, which he had introduced to America in 1922 and had previously recorded for RCA Victor with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra in 1946, and a Bach album which featured the 5th Brandenburg Concerto and three of his own Bach transcriptions. He continued to appear as a guest conductor on several more occasions, his final Philadelphia Orchestra concert taking place in 1969.

In honour of Stokowski's vast influence on music and the Philadelphia performing arts community, on 24 February 1969, he was awarded the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit.[8] Beginning in 1964, this award was "established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression."

All-American Youth Orchestra

With his Philadelphia Orchestra contract having expired in 1940, Stokowski immediately formed the All-American Youth Orchestra, its players' ages ranging from 18 to 25. It toured South America in 1940 and North America in 1941 and was met with rave reviews. Although Stokowski made a number of recordings with the AAYO for Columbia, the technical standard was not as high as had been achieved with the Philadelphia Orchestra for RCA Victor. In any event, the AAYO was disbanded when America entered the Second World War, and plans for another extensive tour in 1942 were abandoned.

NBC Symphony Orchestra

During this time, Stokowski also became chief conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra on a three-year contract (1941–1944). The NBC's regular conductor, Arturo Toscanini, did not wish to undertake the 1941-42 NBC season because of friction with NBC management, though he did accept guest engagements with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski conducted a great deal of contemporary music with the NBC Symphony, including the US premiere of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky in 1943, the world premieres of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto (with Eduard Steuermann) and George Antheil's 4th Symphony, both in 1944, and new works by Alan Hovhaness, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Milhaud, Howard Hanson, William Schuman, Morton Gould and many others. He also conducted several British works with this orchestra, including Vaughan Williams' 4th Symphony, Holst's The Planets, and George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad. Stokowski also made a number of recordings with the NBC Symphony for RCA Victor in 1941-42, including Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, a work which was never in Toscanini's repertoire, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Toscanini returned as co-conductor of the NBC Symphony with Stokowski for the remaining two years of the latter's contract.

New York City Symphony Orchestra

In 1944, on the recommendation of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Stokowski helped form the New York City Symphony Orchestra, which they intended would make music accessible for middle-class workers. Ticket prices were set low, and performances took place at convenient, after-work hours. Many early concerts were standing room only; however, a year later in 1945, Stokowski was at odds with the board (who wanted to trim expenses even further) and he resigned. Stokowski made three 78pm sets with the New York City Symphony for RCA Victor: Beethoven's 6th Symphony, Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, and a selection of orchestral music from Georges Bizet's Carmen.

External audio
You may listen to Leopold Stokowski conducting his orchestral transcriptions of works by Johann Sebastian Bach with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1931-1941 here on archive.org

Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra

In 1945, he founded the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra lasted for two years before it was disbanded for live concerts, but not for recordings, which continued well into the 1960s. Stokowski's own recordings (made in 1945-46) included Brahms's 1st Symphony, Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony and a number of short popular pieces. Some of Stokowski's open-air HBSO concerts were broadcast and recorded, and have been issued on CD, including a collaboration with Percy Grainger on Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor in the summer of 1945. (It began giving live concerts again as the "Hollywood Bowl Orchestra" in 1991, under John Mauceri).[9] There was a 1949 cartoon spoof of Stokowski at the Bowl with Bugs Bunny playing the conductor in "Long-Haired Hare" by Chuck Jones.[10]

New York Philharmonic

He continued to appear frequently with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, both at the Hollywood Bowl and other venues. Then in 1946 Stokowski became a chief Guest Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. His many "first performances" with them included the US Premiere of Prokofiev's 6th Symphony in 1949. He also made many splendid recordings with the NYPO for Columbia, including the world premiere recordings of Vaughan Williams's 6th Symphony and Olivier Messiaen's L'Ascension, also in 1949.

International career

However, when in 1950 Dimitri Mitropoulos was appointed Chief Conductor of the NYPO, Stokowski began a new international career which commenced in 1951 with a nationwide tour of England: during the Festival of Britain celebrations he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the invitation of Sir Thomas Beecham. It was during this first visit that he made his debut recording with a British orchestra, the Philharmonia, of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. During that same summer he also toured and conducted in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal, establishing a pattern of guest-conducting abroad during the summer months while spending the winter seasons conducting in the USA. This scheme was to hold good for the next 20 years during which Stokowski conducted many of the world's greatest orchestras, simultaneously making recordings with them for various labels. Thus he conducted and recorded with the main London orchestras as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Suisse Romande Orchestra, the French National Radio Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Hilversum (Netherlands) Radio Philharmonic, et al.

Symphony of the Air, Houston Symphony Orchestra

Stokowski returned to the NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1954 for a series of recording sessions for RCA Victor. The repertoire included Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony, Sibelius's 2nd Symphony, Acts 2 and 3 of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and highlights from Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah with Risë Stevens and Jan Peerce. After the NBC Symphony Orchestra was disbanded as the official ensemble of the NBC radio network, it was re-formed as the Symphony of the Air with Stokowski as notional Music Director, and as such performed many concerts and made recordings from 1954 until 1963. The US premiere in 1958 of Turkish composer Adnan Saygun's Yunus Emre Oratorio is among them. He made a series of Symphony of the Air recordings for the United Artists label in 1958 which included Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Shostakovich's 1st Symphony, Khatchaturian's 2nd Symphony and Respighi's The Pines of Rome. From 1955 to 1961, Stokowski was also the Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. For his debut appearance with the orchestra he gave the first performance of Mysterious Mountain by Alan Hovhaness – one of many living American composers whose music he championed over the years. He also gave the US premiere in Houston of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony (7 April 1958) and made its first American recording on the Capitol label.

American Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and London

Leopold Stokowski (1970)
Leopold Stokowski (1970)
External audio
You may listen to Leopold Stokowski conducting Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in 1965 here on archive.org

In 1960, Stokowski made one of his infrequent appearances in the opera house, when he conducted Giacomo Puccini's Turandot at the New York Metropolitan, in memorable performances with a cast that included Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli and Anna Moffo. At the New York City Opera, he had led double-bills of Œdipus rex (with Richard Cassilly) and Carmina burana (1959), as well as L'Orfeo (with Gérard Souzay) and Il prigioniero (with Norman Treigle, 1960).

In 1962, at the age of 80, Stokowski founded the American Symphony Orchestra. His championship of the 20th-century composer remained undiminished, and perhaps his most celebrated premiere with the American Symphony Orchestra was of Charles Ives's 4th Symphony in 1965, which CBS also recorded. Stokowski served as Music Director for the ASO until May 1972 when, at the age of 90, he returned to live in England. On 3 January 1962, still showing his interest in using technological innovation, he was featured in a telecast for WGN-TV conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has since been recorded on DVD.[11] One of his notable British guest conducting engagements in the 1960s was the first Proms performance of Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony, Resurrection, since issued on CD.[12]

He continued to conduct in public for a few more years, but failing health forced him to only make recordings. An eyewitness said that Stokowski often conducted sitting down in his later years; sometimes, as he became involved in the performance, he would stand up and conduct with remarkable energy. His last public appearance in the UK took place at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 14 May 1974. Stokowski conducted the New Philharmonia in the 'Merry Waltz' of Otto Klemperer (in tribute to the orchestra's former Music Director who had died the previous year), Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole and Brahms's 4th Symphony. His very last public appearance took place during the 1975 Vence Music Festival in the South of France, when, on 22 July 1975, he conducted the Rouen Chamber Orchestra in several of his Bach transcriptions.

Last years

Stokowski gave his last world premiere in 1973 when, at the age of 91, he conducted Havergal Brian's 28th Symphony in a BBC radio broadcast with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. In August 1973, Stokowski conducted the International Festival Youth Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London, performing Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. Edward Greenfield of The Guardian wrote: "Stokowski rallied them as though it was a vintage Philadelphia concert of the 1920s". Stokowski continued to make recordings even after he had retired from the concert platform, mainly with the National Philharmonic, another 'ad hoc' orchestra made up of first-desk players chosen from the main London orchestras. In 1976, he signed a recording contract with Columbia Records that would have kept him active until he was 100 years old.[13][14]

Stokowski died of a heart attack in 1977 in Nether Wallop, Hampshire, at the age of 95. [15] His very last recordings, made shortly before his death, for Columbia, included performances of the youthful Symphony in C by Georges Bizet and Felix Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony, "Italian", with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London.[16] He is interred at East Finchley Cemetery.[17]

Recording

Stokowski made his very first recordings, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in October 1917, beginning with two of Brahms' Hungarian Dances. Other works recorded in the early sessions were the scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream incidental music and "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.[18] He found ways to make the best use of the acoustical process, until electrical recording was introduced by Victor in the spring of 1925. He conducted the first orchestral electrical recording to be made in America (Saint-Saëns's Danse Macabre) in April 1925. The following month Stokowski recorded Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky, in which he increased the double basses to best utilise the lower frequencies of early electrical recording. Stokowski was also the first conductor in America to record all four of Brahms' symphonies (between 1927 and 1933).

Portrait photograph of Leopold Stokowski
Portrait of Stokowski in 1926
External audio
You may listen to Leopold Stokowski conducting his orchestration of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1927 here on archive.org

Stokowski made the first US recordings of the Beethoven 7th and 9th Symphonies, Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony and Nutcracker Suite, César Franck's Symphony in D minor, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Sergei Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto (with the composer as soloist), Jean Sibelius's 4th Symphony (its first recording), Dmitri Shostakovich's 5th and 6th Symphonies, and many shorter works. His early recordings were made at Victor's Trinity Church studio in Camden, New Jersey until 1926, when Victor began recording the orchestra in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra later participated in long playing, high fidelity, and stereophonic experiments, during the early 1930s, mostly for Bell Laboratories.[19] (Victor even released some early LPs at this time, which were not commercially successful because they required special, expensive phonographs that most people could not afford during the Great Depression.) Stokowski continued to make recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra for Victor through December 1940. One of his last 1940 sessions was the world premiere recording of Shostakovich's sixth symphony. In addition to RCA Victor, Stokowski recorded prodigiously for several other labels until shortly before his death, including Columbia, Capitol, Everest, United Artists, and Decca/London 'Phase 4' Stereo.

His first commercial stereo recordings were made in 1954 for RCA Victor with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, devoted to excerpts from Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet and the complete one-act ballet Sebastian by Gian Carlo Menotti. From 1947 to 1953, Stokowski recorded for RCA Victor with a specially assembled 'ad hoc' band of players drawn principally from the New York Philharmonic and NBC Symphony. The LPs were labelled as being played by 'Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra' and the repertoire ranged from Haydn (his Imperial Symphony) to Schoenberg (Transfigured Night) by way of Schumann, Liszt, Bizet, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sibelius and Percy Grainger. His Capitol recordings in the 1950s were distinguished by the use of three-track stereophonic tape recorders.

Stokowski was very careful in the placement of musicians during the recording sessions and consulted with the recording staff to achieve the best possible results. Some of the sessions took place in the ballroom of the Riverside Plaza Hotel in New York City in January and February 1957; these were produced by Richard C. Jones and engineered by Frank Abbey with Stokowski's own orchestra, which was typically drawn from New York musicians (primarily members of the Symphony of the Air). The CD reissue by EMI included selections originally released on two LPs -- The Orchestra and Landmarks of a Distinguished Career—and featured music of Paul Dukas, Samuel Barber, Richard Strauss, Harold Farberman, Vincent Persichetti, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Debussy, Bach (as arranged by Stokowski), and Sibelius.[20] Although he officially used the Ravel orchestration of the finale to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in his 1957 Capitol recording, he did add a few additional percussion instruments to the score. His Capitol recording of Holst's The Planets was made with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI, which acquired Capitol and Angel Records in the 1950s, has reissued many of Stokowski's Capitol recordings on CD. All of the music that Stokowski conducted in Fantasia was released on a 3-LP set by Disneyland Records, in the 1957 soundtrack album made from the film. After stereo became possible on phonograph records, the album was released in stereo on Buena Vista Records. With the advent of compact discs, it appeared on a 2-CD Walt Disney Records set, in conjunction with the film's 50th anniversary.

Other labels for which Stokowski recorded in the late 1950s included Everest, noted for its use of 35 mm film instead of tape and the resulting highly vivid sound. The most notable of which was a coupling of Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini and Hamlet with Stokowski conducting the New York Stadium Symphony Orchestra (the summer name for the New York Philharmonic). Other remarkable Everest recordings of Stokowski conducting the New York Stadium Symphony Orchestra are Villa-Lobos' tone poem Uirapuru, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Prokofiev's ballet suite Cinderella. Several of Stokowski's televised concerts have appeared on both Video and DVD, including Beethoven's 5th Symphony and Schubert's Unfinished Symphony with the London Philharmonic on EMI Classics 'Classic Archive' label; the Nielsen 2nd Symphony with the Danish Radio Orchestra on VAI (Video Artists International); and Charles Ives' 4th Symphony with the American Symphony Orchestra on Classical Video Rarities.

In 1973, aged 91, he was invited by the International Festival of Youth Orchestras to conduct the 1973 International Festival Orchestra, numbering 140 of the world's finest young musicians, in a performance of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The Cameo Classics LP label recorded the concert, and also, by special permission of the maestro, the final rehearsals, which would make up a 2-LP set. Edward Greenfield in The Guardian reported "Stokowski rallied them as though it was a vintage Philadelphia concert of the 1920s". Robert M. Stumpff ll (Leopold Stokowski Club of America) called the performance "The finest ever performance of this symphony". This unique Dolby recording was restored in 2014 by Klassik Haus and is available from Cameo Classics on CD (Nimbus Records Distribution).

Personal life

Marriages

Stokowski married three times:

His first wife was American concert pianist Olga Samaroff (born Lucy Hickenlooper), to whom he was married from 1911 until 1923. They had one daughter: Sonya Maria Noel Stokowski (born 24 December 1921),[21] an actress, who married Willem Thorbecke and settled in the US with their four children, Noel, Johan, Leif and Christine.

His second wife was Johnson & Johnson heiress Evangeline Love Brewster Johnson (1897–1990), an artist and aviator, to whom he was married from 1926 until 1937 (two daughters: Gloria Luba Stokowski and Andrea Sadja Stokowski).

In March 1938 Stokowski vacationed with Greta Garbo on the island of Capri in Italy.[22] This followed other reports of friendship or romance between Stokowski and Garbo.

Stokowski and Evangeline subsequently divorced. Evangeline later married Prince Zalstem-Zalessky, a descendant of a Russian noble family who died in 1965. Evangeline died at age 93 on 17 June 1990.

In 1945 Stokowski married heiress and actress Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019). They had two sons, Leopold Stanislaus Stokowski (born 1950) and Christopher Stokowski (born 1952). They divorced in 1955.[23]

Name myth

After he had achieved international fame with the Philadelphia Orchestra, unsubstantiated rumours circulated that he was born "Leonard" or "Lionel Stokes" or that he had "anglicised" it to "Stokes"; this canard is readily disproved by reference not only to his birth certificate and those of his father, younger brother, and sister (which show Stokowski to have been the genuine polonised Lithuanian family name, originally Stokauskas, where stoka means "lack" or "shortage"), but also by the Student Entry Registers of the Royal College of Music, Royal College of Organists, and The Queen's College, Oxford, along with other surviving documentation from his days at St. Marylebone Church, St. James's Church, and St. Bartholomew's in New York City.[24]

Stokowski Leopold grave
Stokowski's grave at East Finchley Cemetery.

Legacy

After Stokowski's death, Tom Burnam writes, the "concatenization of canards" that had arisen around him was revived — that his name and accent were phony; that his musical education was deficient; that his musicians did not respect him; that he cared about nobody but himself. Burnam suggests that there was a dark, hidden reason for these rumours. Stokowski deplored the segregation of symphony orchestras in which women and minorities were excluded, and, Burnam claims, his detractors got revenge by slandering him. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding Burnam’s claims, attitudes toward Stokowski have changed dramatically since his death. In 1999, for Gramophone magazine, the noted music commentator David Mellor wrote: "One of the great joys of recent years for me has been the reassessment of Leopold Stokowski. When I was growing up there was a tendency to disparage the old man as a charlatan. Today it is all very different. Stokowski is now recognised as the father of modern orchestral standards. He possessed a truly magical gift of extracting a burnished sound from both great and second-rank ensembles. He also loved the process of recording and his gramophone career was a constant quest for better recorded sound. But the greatest pleasure of all for me is his acceptance now as an outstanding conductor of nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, including a lot that was at the cutting edge of contemporary achievement."

The Looney Tunes episode "Long-Haired Hare" has a satirical homage to Stokowski: Bugs Bunny impersonates him at the opera.

Notable concert premieres

Notable recording premieres

External audio
You may listen to Leopold Stokowski conducting Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E minor From the New World, Op. 95 with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1927 here on archive.org

See also

  • List of famous Poles
  • Long-Haired Hare (1949 Bugs Bunny cartoon), which pokes gentle fun at Stokowski's conducting style, including his habit of leading the orchestra without a baton

Further reading

  • Daniel, Oliver (1982). Stokowski: A Counterpoint of View
  • Rollin Smith (2005) Stokowski and the Organ
  • Paul Robinson (1977) Stokowski: The Art of the Conductor
  • Abram Chasins (1979) Leopold Stokowski: A Profile
  • Preben Opperby (1982) Leopold Stokowski
  • William Ander Smith (1990) The Mystery of Leopold Stokowski
  • Leopold Stokowski (1943) Music for All of Us
  • Herbert Kupferberg (1969) Those Fabulous Philadelphians

References

  1. ^ Simon Callow (23 September 2005). "He would fix the audience with his glinting eye..." The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  2. ^ Abram Chasins, Leopold Stokowski, a profile, pp. 1-3 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979)
  3. ^ Smith, Rollin (2004). Stokowski and the Organ. Pendragon Press. p. 17.
  4. ^ David Lasserson (19 July 2002). "Are concerts killing music?". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  5. ^ David Patrick Stearns (26 January 2007). "Leopold Stokowski, the father of the Philadelphia Sound". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  6. ^ Preben Opperby, Leopold Stokowski, Great Performers, Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Midas / New York: Hippocrene, 1982, ISBN 9780882546582, p. 127, reproduces four of Stokowski's seating plans, of which illustration No. 2 shows the string sections as here described.
  7. ^ Schonberg, Harold C. (1967). The Lives of the Great Composers. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-393-02146-7.
  8. ^ "The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit Recipients". Archived from the original on 9 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Hollywood Bowl Orchestra". Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  10. ^ "History of the Hollywood Bowl". Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  11. ^ Video Artists International
  12. ^ Edward Greenfield (13 February 2004). "Mahler: Symphony No. 2, Woodland/ Baker/ BBC Chorus and Choral Soc/ LSO/ Stokowski". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  13. ^ Paul Vaughan (13 March 2002). "Age cannot wither them". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  14. ^ Davis, Peter G. (19 September 1977). "Prolific and Pulsating Legacy Of Stokowski Remains on Disk" – via NYTimes.com.
  15. ^ Allen Hughes, "Leopold Stokowski Is Dead of a Heart Attack at 95", The New York Times, 14 September 1977.
  16. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Mendelssohn-Bizet-Italian-Symphony-Major/dp/B00000DS1T
  17. ^ East Finchley Cemetery infosite, westminster.gov.uk; accessed 21 July 2014.
  18. ^ Abram Chasins, p. 93
  19. ^ Fox, Barry (24–31 December 1981) "A hundred years of stereo: fifty of hi-fi", Scientific American, pp 910–911; retrieved 1 March 2012.
  20. ^ EMI Classics liner notes
  21. ^ Larry Huffman. "Leopold Stokowski Biography". The Stokowski Legacy. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  22. ^ New York Times 2 March 1938
  23. ^ Lewis, Margery (photographer) ‘LIFE visits the Stokowski Family’ LIFE 7 Sep 1953, Vol. 35, No. 10. ISSN 0024-3019. pps. 122-124
  24. ^ Knight, John (1996). "Leopold Stokowski Explores Debussy's Orchestral Colors". The Instrumentalist. 50 (9).

External links

American Symphony Orchestra

The American Symphony Orchestra is a New York-based American orchestra founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski whose mission is to demystify orchestral music and make it accessible and affordable for all audiences. Leon Botstein is the orchestra's music director and principal conductor. They perform regularly at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space in New York City. Its concertmaster is Erica Kiesewetter.

Bells for Stokowski

Bells for Stokowski for Orchestra and for Symphonic Band by American composer Michael Daugherty, is a 14-minute, single-movement tribute to one of the most prominent 20th century conductors, Leopold Stokowski. Bells for Stokowski for Orchestra (2001) stands alone as a concert piece, however, it is also the last movement of the three-movement work, Philadelphia Stories. Philadelphia Stories was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra in celebration of the Orchestra's centennial under the direction of Wolfgang Sawallisch. The premiere was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, under the direction of David Zinman, in November 2001.

A consortium, including universities from several states, commissioned the piece. The premiere was performed by the University of Michigan Symphony Band at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, under the direction of Michael Haithcock, on October 2, 2002. One year later, it was performed by the Arizona State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Gary Hill, at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 27, 2003. It was also performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic on December 18, 2003 by the Indiana University Wind Ensemble conducted by Ray Cramer.

Dido's Lament

Dido's Lament is the aria "When I am laid in earth" from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell (libretto by Nahum Tate).

It is included in many classical music textbooks on account of its exemplary use of the passus duriusculus in the ground bass. The conductor Leopold Stokowski wrote a transcription of the piece for symphony orchestra. It is played annually in London by the massed bands of the Guards Division at the Cenotaph remembrance parade in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday, the Sunday nearest to November 11 (Armistice Day).

Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Fantasia on Christmas Carols is a 1912 work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was first performed on September 12, 1912 at the Three Choirs Festival at Hereford Cathedral; it was conducted by the composer with the baritone Campbell McInnes. The single-movement work of roughly twelve minutes consists of the English folk carols "The truth sent from above", "Come all you worthy gentlemen" and "On Christmas night all Christians sing" (i.e. the Sussex Carol), all folk songs collected in southern England by Vaughan Williams and his friend Cecil Sharp a few years earlier. These are interposed with brief orchestral quotations from other carols, such as The First Nowell. The early work remains popular with choral societies, and is sometimes paired with his longer Christmas work Hodie of 1954. There is also a version of the Fantasia which replaces the orchestra with strings and organ. A purely orchestral version, in which the solo vocal and choral parts were 'cued in' on the orchestral instruments, was performed in Studio 8H, New York, on 19 December 1943 by the NBC Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The broadcast of this unpublished version, which was presumably arranged by the conductor, has been released on a 'Guild Historical' CD and is also uploaded on YouTube.

Fugue in G minor, BWV 578

Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, (popularly known as the Little Fugue), is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach during his years at Arnstadt (1703–1707). It is one of Bach's best known fugues and has been arranged for other voices, including an orchestral version by Leopold Stokowski.Early editors of Bach's work attached this title to distinguish it from the later Great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which is longer in duration and more challenging to play.

Komm, süßer Tod, komm selge Ruh

"Komm, süßer Tod, komm selge Ruh" (Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest) is a song for solo voice and basso continuo from the 69 Sacred Songs and Arias that Johann Sebastian Bach contributed to Musicalisches Gesangbuch by Georg Christian Schemelli (BWV 478), edited by Schemelli in 1736. The text is by an anonymous author. Bach, by means of melody and harmony, expresses the desire for death and heaven. It is among his most popular works and has been adapted and transformed by several composers, such as Max Reger, Leopold Stokowski, Knut Nystedt, and for the Wanamaker Organ, by Virgil Fox.

Matthias Bamert

Matthias Bamert (born July 5, 1942 in Ersigen, Canton of Bern) is a Swiss composer and conductor.

In addition to studies in Switzerland, Bamert studied music in Darmstadt and in Paris, with Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and their influences can be detected in his own compositions from the 1970s. He spent the years 1965 to 1969 as principal oboist with the Salzburg Mozart Orchestra, but then switched to conducting.

Bamert's conducting career began in North America as an apprentice to George Szell and later as Assistant Conductor to Leopold Stokowski, and Resident Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. He was music director of the Swiss Radio Orchestra from 1977 to 1983.

Bamert was Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Director of the Glasgow contemporary music festival Musica Nova from 1985 to 1990. He has conducted the world premieres of works by composers such as Toru Takemitsu, John Casken, James MacMillan and Wolfgang Rihm. He was director of the Lucerne Festival from 1992 to 1998. During his Lucerne tenure, a new concert hall was opened, and programme expansions included establishment of a new Easter Festival and a piano festival.

Bamert served as principal guest conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) from 2000 to 2005, chief conductor of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) from 2003 to 2006. His initial contract with WASO was through 2007, but dissatisfaction with his tenure caused the orchestra to terminate his contract 18 months early, in May 2006. Bamert was named chief conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in November 2004, and served in the post from 2005 to 2008. In October 2017, the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Bamert as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2018-2019 season, with an initial contract of 3 seasons.Bamert has conducted over 60 recordings, including recordings with Chandos Records of music by Josef Mysliveček, Parry (the complete symphonies) and Frank Martin (5 discs) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the symphonies of Roberto Gerhard with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dutch composers such as Johannes Verhulst and Cornelis Dopper with the Residentie Orchestra, a series devoted to Leopold Stokowski arrangements, concert music by Korngold and Ernő Dohnányi with the BBC Philharmonic. He has also conducted a series of recordings of John Field's compositions for piano and orchestra with Miceál O'Rourke. Among his own compositions, Bamert Mantrajana was recorded by the Louisville Orchestra by their own record label (the composer conducting) in 1974 (Louisville Orchestra LS 741).

Since 1987, Bamert has lived in London.

NBC Symphony Orchestra

The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff, the president of the Radio Corporation of America, especially for the celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini. The NBC Symphony performed weekly radio concert broadcasts with Toscanini and other conductors and served as house orchestra for the NBC network. The orchestra's first broadcast was on November 13, 1937 and it continued until disbanded in 1954. A new ensemble, independent of the network, called the "'Symphony of the Air'" followed. It was made up of former members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and performed from 1954 to 1963, notably under Leopold Stokowski.

Oliver Daniel

Oliver Daniel (November 24, 1911 – December 30, 1990) was an American arts administrator, musicologist, and composer.

He worked as a music executive for CBS, then took a job at BMI, creating that organization's Concert Music Department in 1954. Also in 1954 he helped found the CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.) record label, along with composers Otto Luening and Douglas Moore. In 2000, CRI released a tribute CD for Daniel, titled Looking to the East.

For many years, Daniel worked with and promoted composers such as Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, Colin McPhee, and Peggy Glanville-Hicks. He also wrote an exhaustive (and somewhat hagiographic) biography of the conductor Leopold Stokowski titled Leopold Stokowski: A Counterpoint of View (1982).

For much of his life Daniel lived in Scarsdale, New York, with his partner Donald Ott.[1]

One Hundred Men and a Girl

One Hundred Men and a Girl is a 1937 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin. Written by Charles Kenyon, Bruce Manning, and James Mulhauser from a story by Hanns Kräly, the film is about the daughter of a struggling musician who forms a symphony orchestra consisting of his unemployed friends. Through persistence, charm, and a few misunderstandings, they are able to get famed conductor Leopold Stokowski to lead them in a concert, which leads to a radio contract. One Hundred Men and a Girl was the first of two motion pictures featuring Leopold Stokowski, and is also one of the films for which Durbin is best remembered as an actress and a singer.

Pastorale (Stravinsky)

Pastorale (Russian: Пастораль) is a song without words written by Igor Stravinsky in 1907. Stravinsky composed the piece at his family's estate in Ustilug, Ukraine, while under the supervision of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and dedicated it to Rimsky-Korsakov's daughter Nadia.The piece was originally scored for soprano and piano, but Stravinsky transcribed it several times over the years for various ensembles:

soprano, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon (1923)

violin and piano (1933)

violin, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon (1933)The two versions from 1933 are not strict transcriptions but lengthened versions lasting about two minutes longer than the original.The 1933 version for violin and piano was written for violinist Samuel Dushkin, who had premiered Stravinsky's Violin Concerto two years earlier. Dushkin and Stravinsky premiered the new version in 1933. A version for viola and piano was transcribed by Vadim Borisovsky. Leopold Stokowski arranged the piece for five soloists (violin, oboe, English horn, clarinet and bassoon) and strings, making its first recording with his Philadelphia players in 1934.

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, (Russian: Рапсодия на тему Паганини, Rapsodiya na temu Paganini) is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto, albeit in a single movement. The work was written at his summer home, the Villa Senar in Switzerland, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted interpreter of his own works, played the solo piano part at the piece's premiere at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Rachmaninoff, Stokowski, and the Philadelphia Orchestra made the first recording, on December 24, 1934, at RCA Victor's Trinity Church Studio in Camden, New Jersey.

Richard Mohr

Richard Mohr (June 13, 1919 in Springfield, Ohio – November 23, 2002 in West Milford, New Jersey) was one of RCA Victor’s most prominent producers of classical and operatic music recordings from 1943 through 1977. His producing credits included recording the casts of the world premieres of Samuel Barber's Vanessa and Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, as well as the first LP recordings of Ernani, Luisa Miller and Lucrezia Borgia and three versions each of Rigoletto, Aida, La Traviata and Il Trovatore.

His orchestral repertory began with the last of the live, historical performances of Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra and continued over the years with such conductors as Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Monteux, Charles Munch, Fritz Reiner, Arthur Fiedler, Erich Leinsdorf, Tullio Serafin, Jean Morel, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Georg Solti, Fausto Cleva and Nello Santi, conducting some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, such as The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

The recorded legacy he left behind contains more than 80 complete opera recordings, including the landmark, La Bohème with Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Bjoerling, conducted by Thomas Beecham. Other operas featured many of the glorious voices of the era including Leontyne Price, Montserrat Caballé, Martina Arroyo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Ruggero Raimondi, Leonard Warren, Licia Albanese, Robert Merrill, Roberta Peters, Zinka Milanov, Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, Renata Scotto, Renata Tebaldi, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Gabriel Bacquier, Nicolai Gedda, Giuseppe di Stefano, Anna Moffo and Mirella Freni.

Martin Bernheimer, former music critic of the Los Angeles Times said of him that "He had a great eye and ear for talent and for putting important people together for projects that had lasting value to the music lover. He was an enabler with great imagination and great taste. My impression was he got (the artists) to behave like pussy-cats."

His body of work earned him five Grammy Awards for Best Opera Recording of the year and at least twenty-five Grammy nominations. He is also widely known for his legendary appearances on the Met Opera Quiz broadcasts as a panelist and later as producer of the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast intermission features.

Symphony No. 2 (Hovhaness)

Symphony No. 2, Op. 132, Mysterious Mountain is a three-movement orchestral composition by the Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness. The symphony was commissioned by the conductor Leopold Stokowski and the Houston Symphony, and premiered live on NBC television in October 1955 on the Houston Symphony's first program with Stokowski as conductor. The first and most popular recording of the work, released in 1958 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing under Fritz Reiner, is often regarded as the foremost performance of the piece. This recording, like early performances of the work, predates the composer's decision to categorize the work "symphony". Later on, the G. Schirmer published score was titled Mysterious Mountain with "Symphony No. 2" printed as a subtitle in smaller typeface.

Symphony No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)

Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 between 1935 and 1936. The Third Symphony is considered a transitional work in Rachmaninoff's output. In melodic outline and rhythm it is his most expressively Russian symphony, particularly in the dance rhythms of the finale. What was groundbreaking in this symphony was its greater economy of utterance compared to its two predecessors. This sparer style, first apparent in the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, enhances the emotional power of the work.The symphony was premiered on November 6, 1936, with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Critical opinion was divided and public opinion negative toward the work. Rachmaninoff remained convinced of the piece's worth, however, and conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in the first recording of the work in 1939. Following the reevaluation of Rachmaninoff's work in the 1970s, the symphony has been viewed in a more favorable light and has been frequently played and recorded.

Symphony No. 4 (Hanson)

Symphony No. 4 Op. 34, "Requiem" (1943) by Howard Hanson (1896–1981) is Hanson's fourth symphony. It was inspired by the death of his father, taking its movement titles from sections of the Requiem Mass. He was awarded the 1944 Pulitzer Prize for Music, unanimously selected by the jury, for the piece. Hanson regarded it as his finest work.

Andante inquieto (Kyrie)

Elegy: Largo (Requiescat)

Presto (Dies irae)

Largo pastorale (Lux aeterna)It was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on December 3, 1943, conducted by the composer and the radio premiere was January 2, 1944 by the NBC Symphony Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski. One of his least heard symphonies, "this work represents American Romanticism at its best."

The Big Broadcast of 1937

The Big Broadcast of 1937 is a 1936 Paramount Pictures production directed by Mitchell Leisen, and is the third in the series of Big Broadcast movies. The musical comedy stars Jack Benny, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, Ray Milland, Benny Fields, Frank Forest and the orchestra of Benny Goodman (featuring Gene Krupa). It was in this film that Leopold Stokowski made his movie debut conducting two of his Bach transcriptions. Uncredited roles include Jack Mulhall.

German animator Oskar Fischinger was hired to create an animation sequence in Technicolor. However, when Paramount changed the production to black-and-white only, Fischinger's original abstract animation design was changed to a hybrid animation and live-action sequence showing consumer products emanating from a broadcasting tower, to the song "Radio Dynamics" by Ralph Rainger.It has yet to receive a DVD or VHS issue.

Three Russian Songs, Op. 41 (Rachmaninoff)

The Three Russian Songs, Op. 41 (Trois Chansons Russes; Tri Russkie Pesni) for chorus and orchestra (also seen as Three Russian Folk Songs) were written by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1926. It is the last of Rachmaninoff's three works for chorus and orchestra, the others being the cantata Spring, Op. 20 (1902), and the choral symphony The Bells, Op. 35 (1913). The work takes about 15 minutes to perform.

The thematic material for the work came from three traditional folk songs:

Через речку (Cherez rechku; Across the River, Swift River), Moderato, was a song Rachmaninoff had probably heard for the first time by the touring Moscow Art Theatre's opera studio a year or so before

Ах ты, Ванька (Akh ty, Vanka; Ah, You Vanka! You Devil-May-Care Fellow), Largo, had been sung to him by Feodor Chaliapin

Белилицы, румяницы, вы мои (Belilitsy, rumyanitsy, vy moi; You, My Fairness, My Rosy Cheeks), Allegro moderato, was a favourite of Nadezhda Plevitskaya.The Three Russian Songs were dedicated to Leopold Stokowski, who conducted the first performance in Philadelphia on 18 March 1927 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. The program also included the world premiere of Rachmaninoff's Fourth Piano Concerto, with the composer as soloist. The Three Russian Songs were favourably received by the critics, the concerto less so. The pair of works was repeated on 19 March, and given in New York on 22 March, with similar critical reactions.The songs are scored for altos and basses only, and they sing mostly in unison. The orchestration is quite extensive, although all the instruments rarely play simultaneously: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, percussion, harp, piano and strings.

It seems likely that the choir for the first three performances was augmented by local Russian Orthodox priests who could reach the bass notes required by Rachmaninoff. The conductor Igor Buketoff recalled that he attended the rehearsals as an eleven-year-old boy in the company of his father, a priest and a friend of Rachmaninoff's. The composer had asked the senior Buketoff to acquire the services of some of his fellow priests with basso profundo voices.

Buketoff also reports that Stokowski took the final song too quickly for Rachmaninoff's liking, but would not be persuaded to obey the composer's instructions. When Buketoff himself programmed the piece some years later as a choral conductor at the Juilliard School, he approached Rachmaninoff for advice as to the exact tempo he had envisaged.The Three Russian Songs have been recorded several times, including by Leopold Stokowski himself, Igor Buketoff, Charles Dutoit and Yevgeny Svetlanov. The music has also been used as the basis of a ballet.

Walt Disney Records the Legacy Collection

Walt Disney Records the Legacy Collection is a compilation album series produced and released by Walt Disney Records. The series commemorates distinct anniversaries of Disney films and the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, containing newly remastered versions of the original and expanded soundtrack albums. Each individual title features original artwork and illustrations by Walt Disney Animation Studios visual development artist, Lorelay Bové. A majority of the releases feature "The Lost Chords"; newly recorded tracks done in-house by Disney staff musicians of originally discarded songs and produced to sound period-appropriate to their album counterparts. The first entry in the series—dedicated to The Lion King—was released on June 24, 2014. The fourteenth volume in the series—dedicated to Beauty and the Beast—was released on February 9, 2018. A box set containing the first twelve-volume series was released on November 15, 2015.

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