The Stokowski Legacy
Including Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra - His Story and Recordings 1909-1977
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The Stokowski Legacy
Among the great conductors of the twentieth century, Leopold Stokowski had a unique and fascinating career.
Unique in the variety and quantity of his performances and recordings of music, and especially of new music, from composers of all musical persuasions.
Unique in his role in disseminating music to the public and in particular, the American public (most of whom in 1920, before the advent of radio and orchestral gramophone recordings, had never heard a symphony). This was accomplished through Stokowski's innovative repertoire, innovative concert formats, youth concerts, pioneering broadcast techniques and especially by his recordings. This dissemination of music was aided by Stokowski's flair for promoting himself and his music and by the popularity of his stream of great recordings from 1917 to 1977.
Unique in his involvement with the development of recorded sound. Stokowski was involved in orchestral recording from the acoustic to the quadraphonic eras, and in pioneering efforts in High Fidelity and stereophonic recording with the Bell Laboratories.
Two Victor Records: 1917 Acoustic recording of the Brahms Hungarian Dance no 5 and
1975 RCA Victor Quadraphonic recording of Stokowski Bach Transcriptions
It is important to add that Leopold Stokowski was one of the handful of greatest conductors of the Twentieth Century, a judgement which can be assessed by listening to the Stokowski recordings available on this www.stokowski.org site, and by reviewing the six decades of his innovative concerts located on the pages:
This page describes the information and recordings of Leopold Stokowski available in this www.stokowski.org site.
Themes of this stokowski.org Website
This site concentrates on Stokowski's recordings as a witness not only of Stokowski's career, but also of the evolution of sound recording during his era. This site further benefits from the extensive scholarship and efforts of a number of researchers and amateurs of the work of Stokowski, so generously shared with all of us who enjoy Stokowski's legacy.
Primary development of this site is first, the acoustic recordings of Stokowski and the Philadelphians from 1917 to 1924, and second, the complete legacy of electrical recordings of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1925 to 1940.
The website also includes a complete discography of Stokowski recordings 1917-1977 and a listing of his thousands of concerts performed during his long career.
The recordings of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra included here are nearly all of the commercial recordings released 1917-1940 as well as a number of experimental recordings, including the first stereophonic orchestral recording made in 1931. The music tracks included here will allow a modern audience to hear Stokowski's many great Philadelphia Orchestra recordings. In addition, they will, hopefully, encourage visitors to this site to purchase some of the many excellent CDs available reproducing the historic Stokowski legacy.
A note on the .mp3 files included in this site: I have not included material that has been published in the many excellent CDs containing restorations of the Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra recordings (about which you can read more at CDs of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra ). The reason is that I would not like to do anything which might potentially reduce the sales of these efforts by the leading restoration experts. Also, I would not wish to reduce the (probably already small) sales of these recordings by the leading publishers who have commissioned the restoration of these recordings.
However, the corollary of this decision is that my examples of the recordings of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra are not sonically as good as those produced by the leading restoration experts. For example, I have used sparingly some software to de-click recordings, but found this degrades the orchestra sound in some cases. Professional systems such as CEDAR are too expensive for this project, so the recordings here generally have a higher level of "crackle" and clicks than the best commercial transcriptions. However, I believe the Stokowski material on this site from my sources and from my friends is of a level from which likely you can appreciate Stokowski's art and enjoy the performances and the music, which give great pleasure today, even ninety years later.
Stokowski in 1920
The contents of this site are organized below into three sections:
1. Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra acoustic recordings from 1917 to 1924 and electrical recordings from 1925 to 1940.
2. Information about recordings, concerts, and the career of Leopold Stokowski 1909-1977.
3. Another project of this site is a biographical listing of the Musicians of Leading United States Orchestras, including complete musicians rosters of the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from the beginnings of their organization.
In researching the "Principal" or "solo" musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I was surprised to find how little information is available about the fascinating story of their careers. Therefore, I have included pages which list the Principal musicians of the leading orchestras listed above from their beginnings, and also pages that seek to list all the musicians of each orchestra from their beginnings. (see the links further down this page).
In the paragraphs below, you will see links to all the pages of this site featuring the acoustic recordings, the electrical recordings, and other Stokowski material, plus the pages on the musicians of leading US orchestras. Simply click on the links below.
Stokowski in 1917 just before his first acoustic recordings
From its first recordings, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra inaugurated a period of recording made possible by the development of the acoustic recording process, invented by Edison, and further improved by the Victor Talking Machine Company. To explore this era, click below to go to the appropriate web page:
Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recording in the Academy of Music 1936 (Western Electric 394 condenser microphone suspended above)
Beginning in 1925, Stokowski and the Philadelphians made the first electrical recordings of a symphony orchestra in the United States (and, in fact, the first in the world). Click on the links below to read about and hear these superb and historic recordings:
In addition, there is a page describing the Victor Program Transcription Records . These were the series of 33 1/3 RPM long playing records which RCA Victor tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce during the period 1931 to 1933. This ambitious venture failed in part due to technical problems described by in the page, and also because it was undertaken during what were the most difficult years of the 'Great Depression'.
In addition, on this site, there are a number of pages of information related to the career and recordings of Leopold Stokowski.
This information is being updated frequently, and just added are three interesting new articles:
- an article about the Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski by Maestro José Serebrier , featuring the story of his superb new recordings of Leopold Stokowski Transcriptions performed by the Bournemouth Symphony.
- an appreciation by the music scholar and Stokowski expert Edward Johnson writing about:
- Edward Johnson also writes about the long association between:
- also, a selection of the letters to Stokowski on his 90th Birthday in 1972 from the many composers championed by Stokowski - from the collection of Edward Johnson.
- also, a Listing of all Leopold Stokowski Concerts 1933-1974 is in the process of being compiled for your reference at:
- also, a A Discography of the recordings of Leopold Stokowski 1917-1977 is in the process of being compiled for your reference at www.stokowski.org/Leopold_Stokowski_Discography.htm.
- Theo van der Burg CDs:
Theo van der Burg, expert on Leopold Stokowski, Sergiu Celibidache and a number of other conductors has developed a new website which introduces his private collection of self-recorded music in concerts by these conductors. His collection, built over the last five decades includes recordings of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, The New York Symphony Orchestra, the Hollywood Bowl, the American Symphony Orchestra, as well as many concert recordings from Europe and North America.
There is a great variety of recordings from his extensive personal collection. Some of these recordings may be available in CD format directly from Theo van der Burg. You may visit his site at: http://www.great-conductors-of-the-past.com/
More: More Stokowski information is included in the pages below. Click the link below to read and hear more about Stokowski and his legacy:
Also newly added is a Fritz Reiner Discography which seeks to document all the commercial and private recordings of Fritz Reiner.
Also added is a Fritz Reiner Biography which provides a brief biography of the rich and varied career of Fritz Reiner.
In constructing this site, there seemed to be a surprising lack of historical information about the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra over the last 100+ years, and also, in general, about the musicians of other leading symphony orchestras of the United States since their creations. I have attempted to constuct, out of this interest, brief biographies of the all of the musicians of the major orchestras listed below.
Below are links to the web pages covering the named orchestras. Each orchestra is organized into two different listings:
- A listing of ALL the Musicians of each Orchestra since the orchestra's inception.
This list includes the names, country and date of birth and death, instruments, positions and dates of service of all known permanent musicians of the orchestra from its beginning.
- A listing of the Principal or "solo" Musicians of each Orchestra since the orchestra's inception
This is a listing of all the Principal musicians of the Orchestra, chronologically during their histories, with a brief biographical sketches and photographs.
Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in his first season in 1913
A Note on listening to the Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings
The recordings in this site are files in mp3 format (mostly, 128 kbps) encoded from my recordings. Links to the mp3 files are located in two places:
First - in the page covering the year of the recording. For example, links to a 1926 recording are found in the page: 1926 - Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings
Second - in the Chronological Discography page. For example, links to a 1926 recording are also found in the electrical recordings chronological discography page: Chronological Discography of Electrical Recordings This Chronological Discography page lists all the electrical recordings from 1925 to 1940 made by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski and issued by Victor, including of course the 1926 recordings. For each recording listed in the Discography table, there is a MP3 link on the right-hand side which, when clicked, also will download the recording.
The mp3 files in this site are encoded usually at 128 kbps. This means that the files are of different sizes, according to the length of the music. For example, the second Stokowski electrical recording, the April 29, 1925 Borodin Polovetzki Dances is small (3.6 Mb). In contrast, the 1929 Le Sacre du Printemps file is large. Le Sacre part 1 is 14 Mb and Le Sacre part 2 is 16 Mb.
Consequently, a large file will take a longer time to download, depending on your internet connection speed. Please keep this in mind when you click to listen to (which means to download) a particularly music file. You may click the link to the music file, but need to wait a number of seconds or even minutes to listen to the file.
Your added or corrected information on any of these musicians would be welcome simply by contacting this site as shown at the foot of this page .
Stokowski in 1968
If you have any comments or questions about this Leopold Stokowski site, please e-mail me (Larry Huffman) at e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Leopold Stokowski portrait by Elias Goldensky circa 1923
Full Navigation Menu of www.stokowski.org site (click any button below):
Rosters of Musicians of some Great Orchestras:
Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Acoustic Recordings 1917-1924:
Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Electrical Recordings 1925-1940:
Leopold Stokowski Recording Discographies and Listing of Concerts:
Other Information about Leopold Stokowski:
Leopold Stokowski and Development of Recording:
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