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. It was aided
also by Stokowski's greatness as a musician and conductor, which will be
documented in this www.stokowski.org site.
Stokowski was unique also 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 page
Listing of the Concerts of Leopold Stokowski.
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 will be 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. Later, I hope to add examples of Stokowski's art
that are less easily found or not found at all from current CD sources.
The music of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra will include as many .mp3
recordings of this Stokowski - Philadelphia repertoire as will fit into
the storage of the www.stokowski.org site. These music tracks will
allow those interested to hear Stokowski's many great 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.
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 the recordings and
career of Leopold Stokowski beyond the Philadelphia Orchestra.
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.
These are shown below:
Listings of Orchestra Musicians: Click on the link below
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
Stokowski - Philadelphia 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)
Stokowski - Philadelphia Electrical Recordings
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, 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:
Since there seems to be a surprising lack of historical information about
the principal musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in general
the principals of the other leading symphony orchestras of the United
States, I have started, out of my own interest, to try to compile
brief biographies of the musicians of the major orchestras listed
below. Often, it is difficult even to form an accurate historical
listing of the first-chair musicians of the orchestra sections, let alone
assembling brief biographical information.
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 the Orchestra since its 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
This is a listing of all the Principal musicians of the Orchestra,
chronologically during their histories, with a brief biographical sketches
Listings of Orchestra Musicians: Click on the link below
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 particular 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.