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Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was an English
conductor Conductor or conduction may refer to: Music * Conductor (music), a person who leads a musical ensemble like, for example, an orchestra. * Conductor (album), ''Conductor'' (album), an album by indie rock band The Comas * Conduction, a type of ...

conductor
. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for his long association with the
Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world ...
and his appearance in the
Disney The Walt Disney Company, commonly just Disney (), is an American multinational entertainment and media conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios (Burbank), Walt Disney Studios complex in Burbank, California. Disney was originall ...

Disney
film '' Fantasia'' with that orchestra. He was especially noted for his free-hand conducting style that spurned the traditional
baton Baton may refer to: Stick-like objects *Baton (conducting), a short thin stick used for directing a musical performance *Baton, a type of Club (weapon), club **Baton (law enforcement) **Baston (weapon), a type of baton used in Arnis and Filipino ...
and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from the orchestras he directed. Stokowski was music director of the
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cincinnati Cincinnati ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County, Ohio, Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the nort ...
, the
Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world ...
, the
NBC Symphony Orchestra The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra A radio orchestra (or broadcast orchestra) is an orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted ...
, New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the
Houston Symphony Orchestra 300px, Jones Hall The Houston Symphony is a Grammy Award winning orchestra based in Houston, Texas. Since 1966, it has performed at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston. The first concert of what was to become the H ...
, the
Symphony of the Air The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra conceived by David Sarnoff, the president of the Radio Corporation of America The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of Americ ...
and many others. He was also the founder of the All-American Youth Orchestra, the New York City Symphony, the
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) is a symphony orchestra which is managed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic The Los Angeles Philharmonic, commonly referred to as the LA Phil, is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. It has a regu ...
and the
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 mu ...
. 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.


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. 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 Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
.
Nicolas Slonimsky Nicolas Slonimsky ( – December 25, 1995), born Nikolai Leonidovich Slonimskiy (russian: Никола́й Леони́дович Сло́нимский), was a Russian-born American conductor, author, pianist, composer and lexicographer ...
, editor of ''
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians ''Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians'' is a major reference work in the field of music, originally compiled by Theodore BakerTheodore Baker (June 3, 1851"Passed Away," ''Musical America'' (Nov. 10, 1934), p. 32."Dr. Theodore Baker," ''Mus ...
'', received a letter from a Finnish encyclopaedia editor that said, "The Maestro himself told me that he was born in
Pomerania Pomerania ( pl, Pomorze; german: Pommern; Kashubian: ''Pòmòrskô'') is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the , enclosed by , , , , , , northeast , , and the . The sea stretches fr ...

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 Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...

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. 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, American pianist
Olga Samaroff Olga Samaroff (August 8, 1880May 17, 1948) was an American pianist, music critic, and teacher. Among her teachers was Charles-Valentin Alkan's son, Élie-Miriam Delaborde. Her second husband was the conductor Leopold Stokowski. Life and caree ...

Olga Samaroff
. Samaroff, born Lucy Mary Agnes Hickenlooper, was from
Galveston, Texas Galveston ( ) is a coastal The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The oce ...
, 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 The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire A music school is an educational institution specialized in the study, training, and research of music. Such an institution can also be known as a school of music, music academy, music faculty, c ...

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 Ralph Vaughan Williams, (; 12 October 1872– 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over ...
. Stokowski sang in the choir of the
St Marylebone Parish Church St Marylebone Parish Church is an Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherent ...

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 The Royal College of Organists (RCO) is a charity Charity may refer to: Giving * Charitable organization or charity, a non-profit organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being * Charity (practice), the practice of ...

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 An organist is a musician who plays any type of organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in org ...
and choir director of St. James's Church,
Piccadilly Piccadilly () is a road in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United ...

Piccadilly
. He also attended
The Queen's College, Oxford The Queen's College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) educa ...

The Queen's College, Oxford
, where he earned a
Bachelor of Music Bachelor of Music (B.M. or BMus) is an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly ...
degree Degree may refer to: As a unit of measurement * Degree symbol (°), a notation used in science, engineering, and mathematics * Degree (angle), a unit of angle measurement * Degree (temperature), any of various units of temperature measurement ...
in 1903.


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 The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch m ...
, 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 The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cincinnati Cincinnati ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County, Ohio, Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the nort ...
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 Cincinnati ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Hamilton County, Ohio, Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking River (Kentucky), Licking and Ohio Riv ...

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 Olga Samaroff (August 8, 1880May 17, 1948) was an American pianist, music critic, and teacher. Among her teachers was Charles-Valentin Alkan's son, Élie-Miriam Delaborde. Her second husband was the conductor Leopold Stokowski. Life and caree ...

Olga Samaroff
, in
Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( ; rus, Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский,Петръ Ильичъ Чайковскій in Russian pre-revolutionary script. ; 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893Russia was still using Old style and new style da ...

Tchaikovsky
's
Piano Concerto No. 1
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 Richard Georg Strauss (; 11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. Considered a leading composer of the late Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, l ...

Richard Strauss
,
Sibelius Jean Sibelius ( ; ; born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, 8 December 186520 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic music, Romantic and 20th-century classical music, early-modern periods. He is widely recognized as his count ...

Sibelius
,
Rachmaninoff Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff ( ; rus, Серге́й Васи́льевич Рахма́нинов, Sergei Vasilyevich Rakhmaninov, sʲɪrˈɡʲej vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪt͡ɕ rɐxˈmanʲɪnəf; 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, virtuoso ...

Rachmaninoff
,
Debussy (Achille) Claude Debussy (; 22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionism in music, Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influe ...

Debussy
, Glazunov,
Saint-Saëns
Saint-Saëns
and many others. He conducted the American premieres of new works by such composers as
Elgar Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, (; 2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestra ...

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 The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world ...
, and he made his conducting debut in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

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 Oscar Levant (December 27, 1906August 14, 1972) was an American concert pianist A pianist ( , ) is an individual musician who plays the piano. Since most forms of Western music can make use of the piano, pianists have a wide Piano repertoi ...
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 The Queen's Hall was a concert hall in Langham Place, London, opened in 1893. Designed by the architect Thomas Knightley, it had room for an audience of about 2,500 people. It became London's principal concert venue. From 1895 until 1941, i ...
in London. On 22 May 1912, Stokowski conducted the
London Symphony Orchestra The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is a British symphony orchestra based in London. Founded in 1904, the LSO is the oldest of London's symphony orchestras An orchestra (; ) is a large Musical ensemble, instrumental ensemble typical of c ...

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 Wilhelm Richard Wagner ( ; ; 22 May 181313 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or ...

Wagner
concert that featured the noted soprano
Lillian Nordica Lillian Nordica (December 12, 1857 – May 10, 1914) was an American opera Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by Singing, singers, but is distinct from musical theatre. Such a " ...

Lillian Nordica
. While he was director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was largely responsible for convincing
Mary Louise Curtis Bok Mary Louise Curtis (August 6, 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts – January 4, 1970 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)Bok, Edward W. (1920) ''The Americanization of Edward Bok''. Lakeside Classics edition, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Chicago, Illinois, ...
to set up the
Curtis Institute of Music The Curtis Institute of Music is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ne ...
(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, 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". 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. Stokowski also became known for modifying the
orchestration Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as ...
s 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
Beethoven
,
Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( ; rus, Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский,Петръ Ильичъ Чайковскій in Russian pre-revolutionary script. ; 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893Russia was still using Old style and new style da ...

Tchaikovsky
,
Sibelius Jean Sibelius ( ; ; born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, 8 December 186520 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic music, Romantic and 20th-century classical music, early-modern periods. He is widely recognized as his count ...

Sibelius
,
Johann Sebastian Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque music, Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites (Bach), Cello Suites and ''Brandenburg Concertos''; keyboard ...

Johann Sebastian Bach
, and
Brahms Johannes Brahms (; 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that origin ...

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 Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky (russian: Моде́ст Ильи́ч Чайко́вский; –) was a Russian people, Russian dramatist, opera librettist and translator. Early life Modest Ilyich was born in Alapayevsk, Verkhotursky Uyezd, Perm Gov ...

Modest Tchaikovsky
's ''Life and Letters of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky'' (translated by
Rosa Newmarch Rosa or De Rosa may refer to: People *Rosa (given name) *Rosa (surname) Places *223 Rosa, an asteroid *Rosa, Alabama, United States *Rosa, Germany, in Thuringia, Germany *Rösa, a village and former municipality in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany *Rosà ...
: 1906) that the composer had provided a quiet ending of his own at
Balakirev
Balakirev
's suggestion. Stokowski made his own orchestration of
Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ( rus, link=no, Модест Петрович Мусоргский, Modést Petróvich Músorgskiy , mɐˈdɛst pʲɪˈtrovʲɪtɕ ˈmusərkskʲɪj, Ru-Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky version.ogg; – ) was a Russian co ...
's ''
Night on Bald Mountain ''Night on Bald Mountain'' (russian: Ночь на лысой горе, translit=Noch′ na lysoy gore, links=no), also known as ''Night on the Bare Mountain'', is a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ( r ...
'' by adapting
Rimsky-Korsakov Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov ( rus, Никола́й Андре́евич Ри́мский-Ко́рсаков, Nikoláy Andréyevich Rimskiy-Kórsakov. The composer used to romanaze his name as ''Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakow''., nʲɪkəˈ ...
'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 ''Night on Bald Mountain'' (russian: Ночь на лысой горе, translit=Noch′ na lysoy gore, links=no), also known as ''Night on the Bare Mountain'', is a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ( r ...
'' segued into the beginning of
Schubert Franz Peter Schubert (; 31 January 179719 November 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the ...

Schubert
's ''
Ave Maria The 'Hail Mary' ( la, Ave Maria) is a traditional Christian prayer addressing Mary, the mother of Jesus According to the of and in the , Mary; arc, ܡܪܝܡ, translit=Mariam; ar, مريم, translit=Maryam; el, Μαρία, transli ...
''. 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.Stokowski's repertoire was broad and included many contemporary works. He was the only conductor to perform all of
Arnold Schoenberg Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, ; ; 13 September 187413 July 1951) was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associa ...
'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 ' is a large cantata A cantata (; ; literally "sung", past participle feminine singular of the Italian verb ''cantare'', "to sing") is a vocal composition with an instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, al ...
'' 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 The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of  revolutions per minute, rpm; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the "microgroove" gro ...
. Stokowski also presented the American premieres of four of
Dmitri Shostakovich Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, , group=n (9 August 1975) was a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist coun ...
's symphonies, Numbers 1, 3, 6, and 11. In 1916, Stokowski conducted the American premiere of Mahler's 8th Symphony, ''Symphony of a Thousand'', whose premiere he had attended in Munich on 12 September, 1910. He added works by
Rachmaninoff Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff ( ; rus, Серге́й Васи́льевич Рахма́нинов, Sergei Vasilyevich Rakhmaninov, sʲɪrˈɡʲej vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪt͡ɕ rɐxˈmanʲɪnəf; 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, virtuoso ...

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 The ''Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini'', opus number, Op. 43, (russian: Рапсодия на тему Паганини, ''Rapsodiya na temu Paganini'') is a Sinfonia concertante, concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff for piano and orch ...
'';
Sibelius Jean Sibelius ( ; ; born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, 8 December 186520 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic music, Romantic and 20th-century classical music, early-modern periods. He is widely recognized as his count ...

Sibelius
, whose last three symphonies were given their American premieres in Philadelphia in the 1920s; and
Igor Stravinsky Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor, later of French (from 1934) and American (from 1945) citizenship. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential 20th-century cla ...

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 , image = Roerich Rite of Spring.jpg , image_size = 350px , caption = Concept design for act 1, part of Nicholas Roerich Nicholas Roerich (; October 9, 1874 – December 13, 1947), also known also as Nikolai Konstant ...
'' to America, gave its first staged performance there in 1930 with
Martha Graham Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American modern dance Modern dance is a broad genre of western concert dance, concert or theatrical dance which included dance styles such as ballet, folk, ethnic, religious, and soci ...
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 Boris Fyodorovich Godunov (; russian: Бори́с Фёдорович Годуно́в; possibly 1551 ) ruled the Tsardom of Russia The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus' (russian: Русское царство, translit=Russkoye tsarstvo, ...
'' (1929) and
Alban Berg Alban Maria Johannes Berg (; ; 9 February 1885 – 24 December 1935) was an Austrian composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially cla ...
's ''
Wozzeck ''Wozzeck'' () is the first opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagine ...
'' (1931). Works by such composers as
Arthur Bliss Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss (2 August 189127 March 1975) was an English composer and conductor. Bliss's musical training was cut short by the First World War, in which he served with distinction in the army. In the post-war years he qui ...
,
Max Bruch Max Bruch (6 January 1838 – 2 October 1920) was a German Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of that er ...
,
Ferruccio Busoni Ferruccio Busoni (1 April 1866 – 27 July 1924) was an Italian composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken ...

Ferruccio Busoni
,
Carlos Chávez Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez (13 June 1899 – 2 August 1978) was a Mexican composer, conducting, conductor, music theorist, educator, journalist, and founder and director of the Mexican Symphonic Orchestra. He was influenced ...
,
Aaron Copland Aaron Copland (, ; November 14, 1900December 2, 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Co ...
,
George Enescu George Enescu (; – 4 May 1955), known in France as Georges Enesco, was a Romanian composer, violinist, conductor and teacher. Regarded as one of the greatest musicians in Romanian history, Enescu is featured on the Romanian five lei. Biogr ...

George Enescu
,
Manuel de Falla Manuel de Falla y Matheu (, 23 November 187614 November 1946) was a Spanish composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical ...

Manuel de Falla
,
Paul Hindemith Paul Hindemith (; 16 November 189528 December 1963) was a prolific German composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical musi ...
,
Gustav Holst Gustav Theodore Holst (born Gustavus Theodore von Holst; 21 September 1874 – 25 May 1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite ''The Planets ''The Planets'', Op. 32, is a seven- move ...

Gustav Holst
,
Gian Francesco Malipiero Gian Francesco Malipiero (; 18 March 1882 – 1 August 1973) was an Italian composer, musicologist, music teacher and Editing, editor. Life Early years Born in Venice into an aristocratic family, the grandson of the opera composer Francesco Malip ...
,
Nikolai Myaskovsky 250px, Nikolai Myaskovsky in 1912. Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky or Miaskovsky or Miaskowsky (russian: Никола́й Я́ковлевич Мяско́вский; pl, Mikołaj Miąskowski, syn Jakóbowy; 20 April 18818 August 1950), was a Russia ...

Nikolai Myaskovsky
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Walter Piston Walter Hamor Piston, Jr. (January 20, 1894 – November 12, 1976), was an American composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classic ...
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Francis Poulenc Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (; 7 January 189930 January 1963) was a French composer and pianist. His compositions include songs A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an Originality, original piece or w ...
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Sergei Prokofiev Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev; alternative transliterations of his name include ''Sergey'' or ''Serge'', and ''Prokofief'', ''Prokofieff'', or ''Prokofyev''., group=n (27 April .S. 15 April1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian composer ...
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Maurice Ravel Joseph Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with Impressionism Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement An art movement is a tendency or style in art ...

Maurice Ravel
,
Ottorino Respighi Ottorino Respighi ( , , ; 9 July 187918 April 1936) was an Italian composer, violinist, teacher, and musicologist Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly ...
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Albert Roussel Albert Charles Paul Marie Roussel (; 5 April 1869 – 23 August 1937) was a French composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin w ...

Albert Roussel
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Alexander Scriabin Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (; russian: Александр Николаевич Скрябин ; – ) was a Russian composer and pianist. In his early years he was greatly influenced by the music of Frédéric Chopin Frédéric Fran ...
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Elie SiegmeisterElie Siegmeister (also published under pseudonym L. E. Swift; January 15, 1909 in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With ...
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Karol Szymanowski Karol Maciej Szymanowski (; 6 October 188229 March 1937) was a Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a co ...

Karol Szymanowski
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Edgard Varèse Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse (; also spelled Edgar; December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965) was a French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. Varèse's music emphasizes timbre and rhythm. He coine ...
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Heitor Villa-Lobos Heitor Villa-Lobos (March 5, 1887November 17, 1959) was a Brazilian composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical music in a ...
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Anton Webern Anton Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern (; 3 December 188315 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. (Initially he called himself Anton von Webern, but had to drop the “von” after a 1919 anti-nobility law.) Along with his mentor Ar ...

Anton Webern
, and
Kurt Weill Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900April 3, 1950) was a German (later American) composer, active from the 1920s in his native country, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his ...
, 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 Eugene Ormandy KBE (born Jenő Blau; November 18, 1899 – March 12, 1985) was a Hungarian-American conductor and violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone ( string instrument) in the violin family. M ...

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. Stokowski appeared as himself in the motion picture ''
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, Marth ...
'', conducting two of his Bach transcriptions. That same year he also conducted and acted in ''
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 and the maestro Leopold Stokowski. Written by Charles Kenyon, Bruce Manning, and James Mulhauser from a story by Hanns Kräly ...
'', with
Deanna Durbin Edna Mae Durbin (December 4, 1921 – April 17, 2013), known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was an actress and singer. She appeared in musical films Musical film is a film genre in which songs by the characters are interwoven into the nar ...

Deanna Durbin
and
Adolphe Menjou Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor.Obituary ''Variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Va ...
. 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 Bach's ''Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, Toccata and Fugue in D minor'' and Mussorgsky's/Schubert's ''Night on Bald Mountain''/''Ave Maria''. Stokowski even got to talk to (and shake hands with) Mickey Mouse on screen, in a famous silhouette footage; though, he would later say with a smile that Mickey Mouse got to shake hands with him. 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 Manuel de Falla y Matheu (, 23 November 187614 November 1946) was a Spanish composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical ...

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 The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) is a symphony orchestra which is managed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic The Los Angeles Philharmonic, commonly referred to as the LA Phil, is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. It has a regu ...
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. 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 The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra A radio orchestra (or broadcast orchestra) is an orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted ...
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 Sergei Prokofiev, Prokofiev's ''Alexander Nevsky (Prokofiev), Alexander Nevsky'' in 1943, the world premieres of Arnold Schoenberg, Schoenberg's Piano Concerto (with Eduard Steuermann) and George Antheil's 4th Symphony, both in 1944, and new works by Alan Hovhaness, Igor Stravinsky, Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Milhaud, Howard Hanson, William Schuman, Morton Gould and many others. He also conducted several British works with this orchestra, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4 (Vaughan Williams), 4th Symphony, Gustav Holst, 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 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( ; rus, Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский,Петръ Ильичъ Чайковскій in Russian pre-revolutionary script. ; 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893Russia was still using Old style and new style da ...

Tchaikovsky
's Symphony No. 4 (Tchaikovsky), 4th Symphony, a work which was never in Toscanini's repertoire, and Igor Stravinsky, Stravinsky's The Firebird, 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 H. La Guardia, 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
Beethoven
's Symphony No. 6 (Beethoven), 6th Symphony,
Richard Strauss Richard Georg Strauss (; 11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. Considered a leading composer of the late Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, l ...

Richard Strauss
's ''Death and Transfiguration'', and a selection of orchestral music from Georges Bizet's ''Carmen''.


Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra

In 1945, he founded the
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) is a symphony orchestra which is managed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic The Los Angeles Philharmonic, commonly referred to as the LA Phil, is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. It has a regu ...
. 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 Johannes Brahms (; 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that origin ...

Brahms
's Symphony No. 1 (Brahms), 1st Symphony, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 (Tchaikovsky), ''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 (Grieg), 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). There was a 1949 cartoon spoof of Stokowski at the Bowl with Bugs Bunny playing the conductor in "Long-Haired Hare" by Chuck Jones.


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 Sergei Prokofiev, Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 (Prokofiev), 6th Symphony in 1949. He also made many splendid recordings with the NYPO for Columbia, including the world premiere recordings of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 6 (Vaughan Williams), 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 Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov ( rus, Никола́й Андре́евич Ри́мский-Ко́рсаков, Nikoláy Andréyevich Rimskiy-Kórsakov. The composer used to romanaze his name as ''Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakow''., nʲɪkəˈ ...
's ''Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov), 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 United States. 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 Orchestre National de France, French National Radio Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, 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
Saint-Saëns
's ''Samson and Delilah (opera), 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 300px, Jones Hall The Houston Symphony is a Grammy Award winning orchestra based in Houston, Texas. Since 1966, it has performed at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston. The first concert of what was to become the H ...
. For his debut appearance with the orchestra he gave the first performance of Symphony No. 2 (Hovhaness), ''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 Symphony No. 11 (Shostakovich), 11th Symphony (7 April 1958) and made its first American recording on the Capitol Records, Capitol label.


American Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and London

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 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 mu ...
. 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 Symphony No. 4 (Ives), 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. One of his notable British guest conducting engagements in the 1960s was the first Proms performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (Mahler), Second Symphony, ''Resurrection'', since issued on CD. 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), Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vaughan Williams's ''Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis'', Maurice Ravel, Ravel's ''Rapsodie espagnole'' and
Brahms Johannes Brahms (; 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that origin ...

Brahms
's Symphony No. 4 (Brahms), 4th Symphony. His final 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. Stokowski died of a myocardial infarction, heart attack in 1977 in Nether Wallop, Hampshire, at the age of 95. His very last recordings, made shortly before his death, for Columbia Records, Columbia, included performances of the youthful Symphony in C (Bizet), Symphony in C by Georges Bizet and Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn), 4th Symphony, "Italian", with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He is interred at East Finchley Cemetery.East Finchley Cemetery infosite
Westminster.gov.uk; accessed 21 July 2014.


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 Johannes Brahms (; 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that origin ...

Brahms
' ''Hungarian Dances (Brahms), Hungarian Dances''. Other works recorded in the early sessions were the scherzo from Felix Mendelssohn, Mendelssohn's ''A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn), A Midsummer Night's Dream'' incidental music and "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Christoph Willibald Gluck, Gluck's ''Orfeo ed Euridice.'' He found ways to make the best use of the acoustic recording process, until electric recording was introduced by Victor in the spring of 1925. He conducted the first orchestral electrical recording to be made in America (
Saint-Saëns
Saint-Saëns
's ''Danse macabre (Saint-Saëns), Danse Macabre'') in April 1925. The following month Stokowski recorded ''Marche Slave'' by
Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( ; rus, Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский,Петръ Ильичъ Чайковскій in Russian pre-revolutionary script. ; 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893Russia was still using Old style and new style da ...

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). Stokowski made the first US recordings of the
Beethoven
Beethoven
7th and 9th Symphonies, Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 (Dvořák), ''New World'' Symphony, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 (Tchaikovsky), 4th Symphony and ''The Nutcracker, Nutcracker Suite'', César Franck's Symphony in D minor (Franck), Symphony in D minor, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's ''Scheherazade'', Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff), 2nd Piano Concerto (with the composer as soloist), Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 4 (Sibelius), 4th Symphony (its first recording),
Dmitri Shostakovich Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, , group=n (9 August 1975) was a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist coun ...
's Symphony No. 5 (Shostakovich), 5th and Symphony No. 6 (Shostakovich), 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 (Philadelphia), Academy of Music in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra later participated in long playing, high fidelity, and stereophonic experiments, during the early 1930s, mostly for Bell Laboratories (Victor even released some early Long Playing Records around this time, which were not commercially successful for several reasons). Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra continued to make records 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 Red Seal, RCA Victor, Stokowski recorded prodigiously for several other labels until shortly before his death, including Columbia Records, Columbia, Capitol Records, Capitol, Everest Records, Everest, United Artists, and Decca Records, Decca/London. His first commercial stereo recordings were made in 1954 for RCA Victor with the
NBC Symphony Orchestra The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra A radio orchestra (or broadcast orchestra) is an orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted ...
, devoted to excerpts from Prokofiev's ballet ''Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev), 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 Joseph Haydn, Haydn (his ''Symphony No. 53 (Haydn), Imperial'' Symphony) to Arnold Schoenberg, Schoenberg (''Verklärte Nacht, Transfigured Night'') by way of Robert Schumann, Schumann, Franz Liszt, Liszt, Georges Bizet, Bizet,
Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner ( ; ; 22 May 181313 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or ...

Wagner
, Tchaikovsky,
Debussy (Achille) Claude Debussy (; 22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionism in music, Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influe ...

Debussy
,
Ralph Vaughan Williams Ralph Vaughan Williams, (; 12 October 1872– 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over ...
, Sibelius and Percy Grainger. His Capitol Records, 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 Richard Georg Strauss (; 11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. Considered a leading composer of the late Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, l ...

Richard Strauss
, Harold Farberman, Vincent Persichetti, Tchaikovsky,
Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ( rus, link=no, Модест Петрович Мусоргский, Modést Petróvich Músorgskiy , mɐˈdɛst pʲɪˈtrovʲɪtɕ ˈmusərkskʲɪj, Ru-Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky version.ogg; – ) was a Russian co ...
, Debussy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach (as arranged by Stokowski), and Sibelius. Although he officially used the Maurice Ravel, 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 Gustav Holst, 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 (Tchaikovsky), Francesca da Rimini'' and ''Hamlet (Tchaikovsky), 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 Heitor Villa-Lobos, Villa-Lobos' tone poem ''Uirapuru (Villa-Lobos), Uirapuru'', Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Prokofiev's ballet suite ''Cinderella (Prokofiev), Cinderella''. Several of Stokowski's televised concerts have appeared on both Video and DVD, including Beethoven's 5th Symphony and Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (Schubert), ''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' Symphony No. 4 (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 Olga Samaroff (August 8, 1880May 17, 1948) was an American pianist, music critic, and teacher. Among her teachers was Charles-Valentin Alkan's son, Élie-Miriam Delaborde. Her second husband was the conductor Leopold Stokowski. Life and caree ...

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), 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 Robert Wood Johnson I#Personal life, Evangeline Love Brewster Johnson (1897–1990), an artist and aviator, to whom he was married from 1926 until 1937. They had two daughters: Gloria Luba Stokowski and Andrea Sadja Stokowski. In March 1938 Stokowski vacationed with Greta Garbo on the island of Capri in Italy. 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. 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.


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.


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 towards Stokowski have changed dramatically since his death. In 1999, for ''Gramophone (magazine), 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 Hollywood Bowl. The cartoon pokes gentle fun at Stokowski's habit of conducting without a baton. A statue of the maestro shaking hands with Mickey Mouse, a recreation of a memorable moment in ''Fantasia'', stands in the lobby of Disney's Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.


Notable concert premieres

*
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Philadelphia
, 9 April 1926 *Sergei Rachmaninoff, Fourth Piano Concerto, composer as soloist,
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, 1927 *Sergei Rachmaninoff, ''
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'', composer as soloist,
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, Baltimore, 7 November 1934 *Sergei Rachmaninoff, Third Symphony,
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, 1936 *
Arnold Schoenberg Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, ; ; 13 September 187413 July 1951) was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associa ...
, Violin Concerto (Schoenberg), Violin Concerto, Louis Krasner as soloist,
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, 6 December 1940 *
Arnold Schoenberg Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, ; ; 13 September 187413 July 1951) was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associa ...
, Piano Concerto (Schoenberg), Piano Concerto, Eduard Steuermann as soloist,
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, New York City, New York, 16 February 1944 *Nathaniel Shilkret, Trombone Concerto (Shilkret), Concerto for Trombone, Tommy Dorsey as soloist, New York City Symphony Orchestra, 15 February 1945 *
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, Symphony No. 1, New York Philharmonic, New York City, 30 October 1947 *Alan Hovhaness, Symphony No. 2 (Hovhaness), Symphony No. 2, ''Mysterious Mountain'',
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, Houston, Texas, 1955 *Charles Ives, Symphony No. 4 (Ives), Fourth Symphony,
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, Carnegie Hall, New York City, New York, 26 April 1965


Notable recording premieres

*
Arnold Schoenberg Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, ; ; 13 September 187413 July 1951) was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associa ...
,
Gurre-Lieder ' is a large cantata A cantata (; ; literally "sung", past participle feminine singular of the Italian verb ''cantare'', "to sing") is a vocal composition with an instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, al ...
,
Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world ...
, 9 and 11 April 1932, RCA Victor *Jean Sibelius, Symphony No. 4 (Sibelius), Fourth Symphony,
Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra An orchestra (; ) is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world ...
, 23 April 1932, RCA Victor *Sergei Rachmaninoff, ''Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini'', composer as soloist, Philadelphia Orchestra, 24 December 1934, RCA Victor *
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, Symphony No. 6 (Shostakovich), Sixth Symphony,
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, August 1940, RCA Victor *
Ralph Vaughan Williams Ralph Vaughan Williams, (; 12 October 1872– 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over ...
, Symphony No. 6 (Vaughan Williams), Sixth Symphony, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, 21 February 1949, Columbia *Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 8 (Mahler), Eighth Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, Westminster Choir, Schola Cantorum of New York, Public School Boys' Chorus, 9 April 1950, NYP Editions (first complete recording)


See also

* '' Fantasia'' (1940 Walt Disney animated movie), which stars Stokowski leading the Philadelphia Orchestra and performing, among other pieces of music, his transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, ''Toccata and Fugue in D minor'', BWV 565, as the opening piece of the program *List of Poles#Music, 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


References


Further reading

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


External links


Leopold Stokowski papers, 1916-1994
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
Leopold Stokowski Papers
- Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland *


Leopold Stokowski recordings
at the Discography of American Historical Recordings.
Leopold Stokowski CD Discography
* František Sláma (musician)]
Archive
More on the history of the Czech Philharmonic between the 1940s and the 1980s: ''Conductors''
Stokowski/Philadelphia Orchestra Discography and selected (RCA) Victor recordings, 1917–1940
{{DEFAULTSORT:Stokowski, Leopold 1882 births 1977 deaths Musicians from London English people of Polish descent English people of Irish descent English expatriates in the United States English conductors (music) British male conductors (music) Music directors of the New York Philharmonic Bach conductors 20th-century British conductors (music) Alumni of The Queen's College, Oxford Alumni of the Royal College of Music Honorary Members of the Royal Philharmonic Society Pupils of Charles Villiers Stanford Academy Honorary Award recipients Grammy Award winners Burials at East Finchley Cemetery Music directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra Hickenlooper family 20th-century male musicians Robert Wood Johnson family