1919 - 1924 Victor Acoustic Recordings of Russian Music

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra

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Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Russian Acoustic Recordings 1919 - 1924

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Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935), Stokowski, Reinhold Glière (1875-1956)

during Stokowski's first visit to the Soviet Union in 1931

 

Stokowski Acoustic Recordings of Russian Composers

 

Stokowski and the Philadelphians recorded Russian composers extensively during the acoustic era.  On another page of this site, you can read about and hear the Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Acoustic Tchaikovsky Recordings.  In addition to the Tchaikovsky, Stokowski also recorded a number of other acoustic sides of Russian composers which were approved by Stokowski and released by Victor from 1919 to the end of the acoustic era in 1924.

 

1919 and 1921 Nicolai Rimski-Korsakov - Scheherazade op 35

 

In 1919, 1920 and 1921, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra tried three times to record movements of Nicolai Rimski-Korsakov's Scheherazade.  These were the 'Festival at Baghdad' recorded in 1919, and 'The Young Prince and the Young Princess', recorded in 1920 and 1921, the second time, successfully.

 

In the May 9, 1919 recording session, they successfully recorded movement IV: the 'Festival at Baghdad', which was released in September of that year on Victor Red Seal 12 inch disk 74593, matrix number C-22810-4.

 

This recording is sonically successful, given the challenges of the acoustic recording process of 1919.  However, it seems to be recorded at a pitch well below the original score.  Speeding up the reproduction so as to achieve the pitch of the score results in a reproduction obviously too fast, sounding more like a Mickey Mouse cartoon than the majestic Rimski-Korsakov depiction of the Festival at Baghdad.  So, here I reproduce it at the pitch that I believe correct for this recording, even though not at the note pitch of the score.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1919 Scheherazade - movement IV the Festival at Baghdad

 

Then, on March 25, 1921, the same day they recorded Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' from Die Walküre, they successfully recorded movement III Young Prince and Young Princess from Scheherazade.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1921 Scheherazade - movement III Young Prince and Young Princess

 

1922 - Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov - Caucasian Sketches

 

A work recorded very successfully on several occasions was the Caucasian Sketches, a series of tone poems by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, whom Stokowski met in the Soviet Union in 1931.  The first of the Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra recordings of this work was the 'Procession of the Sardar', which Stokowski caused to be labeled 'March of the Caucasian Chief' on this disk.  It was recorded April 29, 1922 in the Camden Church Studio, and issued on Victor Red Seal 10 inch disk 66106, matrix B26442-2.   

Stokowski clearly appreciated the 'Caucasian Sketches', and programmed it at his debut concert in Paris, Sunday, May 9, 1909 with the Colonne Orchestra. Stokowski again programmed the 'Caucasian Sketchers at his first concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in November, 1909, and at his first concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra in October, 1912 !  He must have been convinced that it was also one of his most effective conducting showpieces.  

This 1922 recording is vivid and demonstrates Stokowski's interest in this work.  However, in my opinion, Stokowski's 1927 recording of the Procession of the Sardar is even better, not only due to superior sonics, but also from the grandeur of the performance.  In fact the 1927 Ippolitov-Ivanov recording is one of my favorite Stokowski works.  Yet the 1922 acoustic performance of the 'Procession of the Sardar' still gives us pleasure today.  

Click on the link below to listen to this successful 1922 recording.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1922 Ippolitov-Ivanov 'Procession of the Sardar'

 

1923 - "Dance of the Tumblers" from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "Snegurochka"

 

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov was another favorite of Stokowski. In late 1923, he recorded an excerpt from Act 3 of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "Snegurochka" (the "Snow Maiden") , the so-called 'Dance of the Tumblers'.

 

Snegurochka was an important opera for Rimski-Korsakov.  He had gone through a difficult creative period between 1874 and 1877.  Then, with his opera "May Night" of 1878, based on Russian folklore and the short story of Nikolai Gogol, he seems to have recaptured his creative inspiration.

 

"Snegurochka" then followed the next year in 1879, once again based on Russian folklore, and with an orchestration that was both effective and transparent.  According to the Russian fairy tail, Snegurochka was the daughter of Spring and Frost.  Snegurochka wanted to experience human love, but after this was granted to her, it came with the unfortunate result that she then melted for the experience.

 

The orchestral suite from Snegurochka was yet another of the many U.S. premieres made by the Russian Symphony Orchestra Society of New York  which the Russian Symphony Orchestra performed November 18, 1905, on the same program that they gave the U.S. premiere of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no 2, with the composer.  What a program !

 

Click here to hear the Dance of the Tumblers from Act 3 of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "Snegurochka"

 

1924 - Anatoly Lyadov - 'Dance of the Amazons', opus 65

 

In December of 1924, Stokowski recorded the 'Dance of the Amazons', opus 65 by Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914). This is a short piece, composed in 1910, and among Lyadov's last compositions.   It is often said of Lyadov that he never completed a large scale work, but only miniatures.  One of the indirect benefits of Lyadov's lack of diligence in his composing may have been an opportunity for Stravinsky. Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929) asked Lyadov to compose a new score for his Ballets Russes for the 1910 season.  Perhaps this 'Dance of the Amazons' was intended by Lyadov to be part of the ballet score which he failed to complete for Diaghilev.  In any case, when Lyadov failed to deliver the ballet score, Diaghilev then asked Stravinsky, age 27 and at that time barely known, to fulfill the commission, which resulted in Stravinsky's first great work, 'The Firebird'. 

 

This Stokowski recording, although at the very end of the Victor acoustic recording era was in fact introduced commercially the following summer of 1925, in the midst of the release of the first Victor Orthophonic electrical recordings.  However, during most of 1925, Victor (and rival Columbia, who had also licensed the Western Electric process) did not promote the fact that certain recordings had been made with the electrical recording process.  Victor did not begin such a promotion of the new technology until the 'Victor Day' promotion of November, 1925 (as described in Victor Day in Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Electrical Recordings of 1925).  However, Victor dealers were encouraged to play the new electrical recordings on the Victrola equipment to demonstrate their quality.  

 

For these reasons of a late commercial release, and competition from the dramatically improved electrical process recordings, this Lyadov disk, released as Victor Red Seal 10 inch disk 1112, matrix B31263-2 did not sell particularly well, and is one of the few rare Stokowski recordings.  

Click on the link below to hear the Lyadov 'Dance of the Amazons' opus 65 from late 1924.

 

Click here to hear the Lyadov 'Dance of the Amazons'

 

1922 - Recording of Stravinsky Feu d'artifice

 

Another pioneering recording by Stokowski and the Philadelphians was their 1922 acoustic recording of 'Fireworks' or 'Feu d'artifice', and early Stravinsky composition as indicated by its opus 4 number.

 

This was the first American recording of any work by Stravinsky.  The sound of this recording effort was effective and must have given such early listeners a fine impression of this work.  Also, Stokowski used a timpani in this session, which Victor had avoided in most of the previous acoustic recordings.

 

Although recorded November 6, 1922, is was not released until mid 1925, coupled with the Lyadov, mentioned above.  Because of this late issue, and probably due to the avant-garde (or even unknown nature) of Stravinsky at that time, the disk did not sell very well.  However, it is remarkably successful, given the limitations of the acoustic process.

 

Click here to listen to the 1922 recording of Stravinsky's 'Feu d'artifice'

 

1924 - Recording of Stravinsky Suite from the Firebird

 

This Stokowski recording of the Suite from the Firebird was certainly a pioneering recording.  In fact, according to C.G. Arnold's excellent acoustic discography (see Leopold Stokowski Philadelphia Orchestra Bibliography, Sources and Credits ), other than the Stokowski 'Feu d'artifice', the only previous recording of any Stravinsky work by any orchestra was Sir Thomas Beecham's June 1916 (just before he was knighted) recording of three movements.   These three selections were, as usual, heavily cut, and only two of the movements were released by Columbia.  These were 'Dance of the Firebird' and the 'Infernal Dance'.  

 

This Beecham recording, with his Beecham Symphony Orchestra was recorded only 6 years after the June 25, 1910 performance of the original ballet by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris.  This and a number of other Beecham Symphony Orchestra performances were recorded at the initiative of Louis Sterling, at that time General Manager of the British subsidiary of the (U.S.) Columbia Graphophone Co. This performance of the two parts of the Suite, was released on a two-sided British Columbia Graphophone 12 inch disk L1040, matrices 6797-1-2 and 6799-1.  In this performance, a number of the woodwinds, particularly the oboe seem to be 'going through the motions' in performing the music, without any conviction.  The Firebird must have seemed a bazaar score for musicians who may have first studied their instrument in the 1880s, at a time when Dvorak was 'new music' and Brahms Symphony no 4 was just having its premier performance.

   Thomas Beecham in about 1911 ('Sir Thomas' after 1916)

This 1915 Beecham recording is the only listed recording of any Stravinsky work before Stokowski's 1922 recording of 'Feu d'artifice'.  Further, this is apparently Beecham's only published recording of the Firebird. In fact, according the the Michael Gray discography 1, this seems to be Beecham's only commercial recording of any work by Stravinsky (!). I do not have access to other discographies or a performance register of Beecham concerts, but I have not seen a Beecham Firebird in any partial discography or any recent collection.  Stravinsky does not seem to be a particular favorite in Beecham's programs.  So, for several reasons, this recording is of particular historical interest, and you can hear it by clicking on the link below.

 

Click here to listen to Beecham's 1916 recording of music from Stravinsky's Firebird

 

In 1924, at the very end of the acoustic era, Stokowski and the Philadelphians returned to Camden, New Jersey to record Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.  For this recording, unlike so many Victor acoustics, Stokowski used a timpani, although carefully, so as not to jar the sensitive acoustic diaphragm.

 

The Firebird Suite would often be recorded on five or six 78 RPM sides by others, but Stokowski was able to fit it onto 4 acoustic sides.  The first reason was the very rapid playing of this recording. Listen, for example to the end of the first side (click here) , at about 3 minutes from the beginning.  It is a tribute to the virtuoso abilities of the Philadelphia Orchestra of that era to be able to play such difficult and new music with precision and brilliance at such a speedy pace.

 

The second reason for this Firebird fitting on only four 78 RPM sides is the very large cut of the repeating progression at the conclusion of the Suite, on side 4.  Normally, this progression would lead up to the crescendo of the finale. This music is totally cut from Stokowski's recording.

 

It is likely that this cut by Stokowski was not done simply to fit the Firebird Suite onto four 78 RPM sides.  Stokowski made this same cut in his 1927 electric re-recording, and in all of his subsequent 78 RPM recordings of the 1930s and 1940s, when time length was not a problem.

 

The sonic results of this acoustic recording were quite good, given the limitation of the process.  However, the sonics of the 1927 Academy of Music electrical recording are so dramatically superior, it is a remarkable example of the progress of the recording technology, due to the Westrex Electric process in only three years.

 

This recording, although a stirring performance, coming out as it did in early 1925, just before the first Victor electrical process recordings were released, did not sell particularly well, but remains a thrilling experience.

 

This recording of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite was issued by Victor in 1925 on two double-faced Victor 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disks: 6492, 6493, matrices C-30992-3, C-30993-3, C-30994-2, C-30995-3.

 

Click here to hear Stokowski's 1924 recording of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite

 

 


1  Gray, Michael H.   Beecham, A Centenary Discography.   Holmes & Meier Publishers. New York 1979.  ISBN 0-8419-0582-7

 


 

Note on listening to the Stokowski recordings

 

The recordings in this site are files in mp3 format (128 mbps) 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 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.

 

The mp3 files in this site are encoded at 128 mbps.  This means that the files are of different sizes, according to the length of the music.  For example, the second electrical recording, the April 29, 1925 Borodin ‘Polovetzki Dances’ is small (3.6MB).  In contrast, the 1929 Le Sacre du Printemps file is large.  Le Sacre part 1 is 14MB and Le Sacre part 2 is 16MB.

 

This means that 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 - 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.

 


If you have any comments or questions about this Leopold Stokowski site, please e-mail me (Larry Huffman) at e-mail address: leopold.stokowski@gmail.com 


 

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L'Héritage de Stokowski - Accueil français

Victor Talking Machine Company, Eldridge Johnson, et le développement de la technologie d'enregistrement acoustique

1917 - 1924 les enregistrements acoustique Victor de Leopold Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

1917 -  Premiers enregistrements acoustique de Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1917 - 1919 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1920 - 1921 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1922 - 1924 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1919 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique Russe Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1920 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique français - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1921 -1924 enregistrements acoustique Tchaïkovski - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1921 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique Wagner - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1924 enregistrements acoustique Rachmaninov - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

 

Développement de l'enregistrement électrique

Permis d'exploitation du système Westrex donné à Victor et Columbia

1925 Premier enregistrement électrique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1925 autres enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1926 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1927 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

Encore des enregistrements 1927 électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1928 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1929 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1930 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1931 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1932 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1933 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1934 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

Encore des enregistrements 1934 électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1935 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1936 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1937 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1939-1940 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

 

D'autres documents sur Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

Camden église studio - Victor Talking Machine studio d'enregistrement

Leopold Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie Enregistrement à l'Académie de musique de Philadelphie

Interviews avec Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Stokowski Orchestrations

Leopold Stokowski, Harvey Fletcher et les laboratoires Bell expérimental enregistrements

Maîtres de restauration moderne de disques historique

CDs de Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

Leopold Stokowski Discographies chronologique

      Leopold Stokowski Discographie chronologique - enregistrements acoustique

      Leopold Stokowski Discographie chronologique - enregistrements électriques

Leopold Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie bibliographie, des sources et crédits

 

L'Orchestre symphonique de Boston - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de Chicago - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre de Cleveland - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre du Metropolitan Opera de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre philharmonique de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre de Philadelphie - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique Russe de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de San Francisco - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de St. Louis - musiciens principaux