Richard Strauss in Philadelphia 1921 with Stokowski
1920 - Beethoven Symphony no 8 - Second Movement
During his career, Stokowski was not associated with the
symphonies of Beethoven in the way that Toscanini, Furtwängler,
or even Weingartner were. However, during Stokowski's
six decades of conducting, he made a number of very good
performances and recordings of the Beethoven symphonies.
Issued recordings included all the symphonies, except
Beethoven's first symphony.
Of the Beethoven Symphony no 8, Stokowski made his
first and only commercial recording, in fact with any
orchestra, during the acoustic era in 1920.
In addition, there are at least three later
live performances of the symphony which have since
become available on private or limited issue recordings.
This acoustic recording of the second movement of the
Symphony was recorded May 20, 1920. As was the
practice at the time, Stokowski recorded only this
one movement (Stokowski would make the first Victor recording of a
full symphonic work in 1924, with the Schubert Unfinished).
This recording, as with others between 1919 and 1924, was
done with a greatly reduced orchestral complement, with
the objective by the Victor engineers of increase
"clarity". Only 45 musicians were used in the
recording of the Beethoven second movement from the
Symphony no 8. These were 6 violins, 2 violas,
2 cellos, 4 string basses, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons,
2 clarinets, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas, a drum,
and a harp. You can also hear what seems to be
either a contrabassoon or a bass clarinet or perhaps the
tuba reinforcing the parts played by the string basses.
This recording was issued on a 12 inch Victor Red Seal
record 74661, matrix C-24127-3 issued in 1921.
Click below to hear this recording of the 1920
Beethoven Symphony no 8 second movement.
This recording of the second movement of the Beethoven
Symphony no 8 used a similar re-orchestration of the
music as was commonly used by Victor from 1919 to 1924,
which in this period either substituted bass winds for
string basses or augmented the string basses with such
instruments. In the opening of this movement, doubling of
the string basses by either a bass oboe or tuba is audible.
However, as can be heard in the UK Columbia Weingartner recording
of this second movement from his London Symphony Orchestra
recording from November 27, 1923, string basses can be
successfully, if less prominently recorded with the acoustic
process. Listen to the first few minutes of the Weingartner
recording as transcribed by Bryan Bishop (see his wonderful
Shellackophile blog: http://shellackophile.blogspot.com
Such recordings by Weingartner and other famous conductors
with famous European orchestras of the 1920s, both acoustic recordings
and electrical recordings offer interesting musical comparisons.
Having listened to more than 100 such recordings from the 1920s and
early 1930s, its seems to me that Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra display a level of precision, ensemble, and virtuosity
not found in the recordings of famous European orchestras, including
of Berlin, Vienna, and London. An example are the several
Beethoven recordings by Weingartner, such as the Beethoven Symphony
no 8, featured above, and the 1923 recording of the Beethoven
Symphony no 7 with the London Symphony Orchestra. Weingartner
was certainly a great Beethoven conductor, and the reduced complement
of musicians here were among the leading London musicians. However,
the playing standards of that era were, by evidence of the recordings
below what we would expect from a regional or community orchestra
of today. There is a scrambling in the playing, with not all
the notes of the score played and a lack of precision and ensemble.
This was well below the performance level of Philadelphia Orchestra
of that era as shown by their many recordings.
Listen for example to the Beethoven excerpt by clicking on the
link below and decide for yourself.
1920 - Largo from the Dvorak Symphony no 9, "From
the New World"
In 1920, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
made the first of a series of four recordings of the
Dvorak Symphony no 9, "From the New World", although as
was the practice in the acoustic era, only of a single
movement. This was the second movement, "Largo"
recorded May 21, 1920.
In fact, this movement of the Dvorak symphony was not their
first attempt to record the Symphony 'From the New
World'. Stokowski and the Philadelphians has recorded
the third movement, a scherzo, in December 1917 at one
of their earliest recording sessions. However, this
recording was one of the many sides rejected by
Stokowski and never issued.
They recorded this symphony in full in 1925 with the
electrical process producing a famous album. This
later 1925 recording was first issued as a separate album,
containing the complete
New World symphony. Later, this album was revised to
became the first of the Victor "Musical Masterpiece" series,
the first of this new series, labeled "M-1". The
Victor Musical Masterpiece series continued until the end of the
78 RPM era. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestr recorded
the New World Symphony again, and perhaps most successfully in
both sound and performance, in October, 1927. Somewhat
confusingly, the 1927 that recording was also assigned the
catalog number of M-1, replacing the 1925 recording. Further
confusing for collectors is that this 1927 recording was assigned
the same matrix numbers as the 1925 recording, although with
different 'take' numbers.
Stokowski and the Philadelphians returned to the Dvorak
Symphony no. 9 a final time in 1934, but this, in my
judgment was not so fine, either acoustically or as a
performance as the 1927 effort.
Listen to this fine 1920 acoustic
recording of the Largo movement of the Dvorak Symphony
no 9 'From the New World' by clicking on the link below.
In 1920, Stokowski also made the first of his six
commercial recordings of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no
2 for piano. The version on this side was orchestrated
by Karl Müller-Berghaus but heavily cut by Stokowski so
as to fit on one side of Victor Red Seal 74647.
The orchestration of this piece, and the prominence of
horns and woodwinds, and the reasonably effective recording
of the strings makes this one of the sonically more effective
acoustic Stokowski recordings. It is also a vigorous
This recording was made on May 20, 1920 with approximately 35
musicians in the newly renovated Camden Trinity Church
studio, purchased by Victor in 1918, and now referred to
as "Building no 22".
1920 - Johannes Brahms - Hungarian Dance No 1 in g
after Stokowski and the Philadelphians had recorded the
excerpts from the Beethoven Symphony no 8, the Dvorak
'New World" and the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no 2, they
went back to Camden to record the Johannes Brahms'
Hungarian Dance No 1 in g minor. This Hungarian
Dance, following on from the first two Stokowski
recordings made in 1917 of the Hungarian Dances 5 and 6,
was in an orchestration based on the arrangement of the
piano music by Brahms' friend, Joseph Joachim.
1920 orchestral forces used for this recording were considerably
less than for the first 1917 recordings.
Approximately 40 musicians were used, compared with
approximately 95 in 1917. The sound and
performance of this Hungarian Dance no 1 seems to have less
impact than the 1917 Hungarian Dances 5 and 6, perhaps in
part because of this reduced orchestral complement. Stokowski
also may have been dissatisfied with this recording, even though he
approved it for release. The evidence for this is that he and
the Philadelphia Orchestra re-recorded the work in November, 1922 and
in May, 1923, although neither later recording was released.
The performance itself is significantly different than
would be heard from Stokowski's contemporaries. It
begins very slowly in the introductory theme, and the
speeds up to a rapid pace. This is a dramatic
effect, but does not seem to be based on what Brahms
wrote. But then Stokowski usually knew what he
wanted to accomplish.
following year, in 1921 Stokowski recorded probably well
over 100 acoustic sides, of which 11 were released.
This made 1921 the most prolific recording year by the
Philadelphians up to that point.
Following the Rimski-Korsakov and Wagner sessions of
March 25, 1921, Stokowski recorded the Sibelius Finlandia,
still a contemporary composition, composed just over
twenty years before.
another of the successful Stokowski acoustic recordings.
The performance is noble and inspired, and the
limitations of the acoustic process do not significantly
detract from the impact of this work and its
1921 Brahms - Symphony no 3 in F major, Third Movement
was one of the composers most successfully conducted by
Stokowski, and he seems to have programmed either the Brahms
Symphony no 1 or Symphony no 3 whenever he needed an assured success
during his career. Given his affinity for Brahms, it is
surprising he did not record the Academic Festival
Overture commercially until 1974, nor the Tragic
Overture until 1977, both at the very end of his long
career. Also, according to Enno Riekena's superb
discography of Stokowski commercial disks, the only
recording issued commercially of Stokowski performing
the Variations on a Theme of Haydn was a 1962 live
recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, when
Stokowski substituted for an ailing Fritz Reiner. At this
concert, Stokowski conducted the works Reiner had programmed.
This 1962 Variations on a Theme of Haydn recording was
issued by the Leopold Stokowski Society, and later on other
It is surprising that, according to C. G. Arnold's comprehensive
acoustic discography The Orchestra on Record, 1896 - 1926,
this Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra recording of the
third movement of the Brahms Symphony no 3 of 1921 seems to be the
first recording ever of any movement from any Brahms symphony
by any conductor (hard to believe, but documented by Arnold!)
This 1921 Brahms recording also shows how Stokowski and the
Philadelphia Orchestra programmed their recording sessions
and selected the 'takes' to be issued. The third movement
of the Brahms Symphony no 3 Poco allegretto was recorded
in four recording sessions before a satisfactory recording
was achieve. These were two different takes on 18 May 1920 and
two further takes on 18 May 1920, two takes on 14 February 1921,
and finally two takes, of which the last was a success on
18 April 1921. This take was issued on a 12 inch (30 cm)
Red Seal disk Victor 74722, matrix number C-24125-8. In Europe,
the recording was issued by the Gramophone Company on Gramophone
3-0700. This recording was also released on a double sided
Victor Red Seal disk Victor 6242 coupled with the Scherzo movement
of the Tchaikovsky Symphony no 6 recorded during the same 18 April 1921
session. Also striking is that from the
February 1921 and May 1920 recording sessions, no recordings were
released of any music --- not just the Brahms.
In this recording, a larger orchestral complement of 42 musicians was
squeezed in front of the cramped acoustic horn: 12 violins, 3 violas,
2 cellos, 4 string basses, 3 oboes, 2 bassoons, 3 clarinets, 4 horns,
2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas, a harp, and a trap drum.
Click below to hear the third movement of Brahms
Symphony no 3 in F major from 18 April 1921.
1921 - Strauss - Salome - Dance of the Seven Veils
At the end of 1921, on December 5, 1921, Stokowski and the
Philadelphians recorded their first and only acoustic recording of
music by Richard Strauss: The Dance of the Seven Veils
from Scene 4 Salome. In the opera, as he price for dancing
this dance, Salome demands from Herod, King of Judea, the
head of John the Baptist on a silver platter.
Richard Strauss had conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra on a number
of occasions, including during the tenure of Fritz Scheel, the first
conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In October,
1921, Strauss conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in one concert in
Philadelphia, and five concerts in New York City, all of his own
This fine recording of the Dance of the Seven Veils from Strauss's
opera Salome was released on two 12 inch (30 cm) single sided
Victor Red Seal disks, Victor 74729 and 74730, matrices
C-25788-3 and C-25789-2.
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
The mp3 files in this site are usually 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 em>Le Sacre part 2 is 16MB.
For this reason, 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: