1919 - 1924 Victor Acoustic Recordings of French Music by

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra

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1919 - 1924 Victor Acoustic Recordings of French Music by

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra

 

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         Stokowski circa 1920

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Stokowski's French Acoustic Recordings 1919-1924

 

During the acoustic period from 1919 to the end of 1924, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded a number of sides of music of French composers, many of them not approved for release.  Without including Christoph Willibald von Gluck as a 'French' composer (even though he lived his last 13 years in Paris), there were 11 Victor Red Seal sides of music by French composers were released during the acoustic era.

1919 - Chabrier - España Rhapsody

 

In 1919, after having made no recordings in 1918 due to war-time restrictions, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra again returned to Camden for recording.  The 1918-1919 Philadelphia Orchestra season ended on May 3, and on May 8, 9 and 10, 1919, in the Camden Church Studio, Stokowski recorded seven new works, including two items of French music: the Bizet Carmen - Prelude to Act 1 (described below), and the Chabrier España Rhapsody.

 Emmanuel Chabrier

 

The España Rhapsody by Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) was composed in 1883 followed a trip by Chabrier to Spain the previous year.  'España, rapsodie pour orchestre' was premiered in November, 1883 by Charles Lamoureux at his Paris concerts.  It has proved to be his most successful work,

 

This recording is remarkably successful, given that it was recorded acoustically.  The performance is joyous and the orchestra's playing is inspired. The effectiveness of the sound is aided by the score's orchestration, strong in wind instruments, which tend to record well in the acoustic process. In this recording, the percussion and the two harps called for in the score are replaced by wind instruments.  About two minutes of the score is cut so as to allow this 6 1/2 minute work to be accommodated on a 4 1/2 minute 78 RPM side.

 

Interestingly, after this successful 1919 recording of España, Stokowski did not record it again until November, 1975, more than 56 years later !

 

This recording of España was released in June 1920 on Victor 12 12 inch Red Seal disk 74621, matrix C-22809-7. It was also released in Britain by the Gramophone Company on DB 384, and later when double-sided records were released by Victor, on Victor 6241 paired with the Bacchanale from the Saint-Saëns opera Samson et Dalila

 

Click here to listen to - download the 1919 Chabrier España Rhapsody

 

1919 - Bizet - Carmen Act 1 Prelude

 

The most numerous composer Stokowski recorded during this period was Georges Bizet.  On May 8, 1919 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the Act 1 Prelude from Carmen.  This Prelude, Allegro giocoso, is one of the most famous opera overtures, having a theme similar to a Spanish corrida, with also the leitmotif of Escamillo's aria of Act 2. 

 

This recording was issued on Victor 10 inch Red Seal record 64822 matrix B-22812-4 issued in October,1919.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1919 Bizet Act 1 Prelude from Carmen

 

1923 - Bizet - Carmen - Changing of the Guard and Smugglers March

 

Stokowski and the Philadelphians recorded several excerpts from Carmen during that period.  On April 30, 1923 two different excerpts, labeled "Changing of the Guard, or "Avec la garde montante" from Act 1, and "Smugglers March", or "Marche des contrebandiers" from Act 3 were  issued on a double sided 10 inch Victor Red Seal disk Victor 1017, matrix B-27902-1 and B-27903-2.

 

Click here to listen to (download) Carmen - 'Marche des contrebandiers' from Act 3

 

Click here to listen to (download) Carmen - 'Avec la garde montante' from Act 1

 

1922 - Bizet - Danse provençale from L'Arlésienne Suite No 2

 

On January 27, 1922 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded section IV - 'Farandole' from Georges Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suite No 2.  This lively music was to accompany Alphonse Daudet's play L'Arlésienne, and was written by Bizet in time for the first performance in 1872.  Bizet then made arrangements of passages for various instrumental groups, including orchestra, from which this Suite no 2 originates.

 

In the Victor recording ledgers, there is the note 'check with Mr. Stokowski as to the title of this work'.  This 10 inch Victor Red Seal record was released with the title 'Spanish Dance', rather than as 'Farandole', presumably to emphasize the Mediterranean flavor of the music, and to avoid a name unknown to most. 

  

This brief recording, only about 1 1/2 minutes, and it is an example of the changes in Victor recording practices since the first recording sessions of 1917 (which had used a full orchestra).  This 1922 orchestra complement is reduced to about 45 musicians, and extensive instrumental changes have been introduced.  For example, the percussion which is a prominent part of the first section of this Prelude has been replaced by what seems to be a bass wind instrument, perhaps a contrabassoon.  Stokowski was to remake this lively work 7 years years later in May, 1929.

 

Although recorded early in 1922, this Victor 10 inch disk 1113 was not released by Victor until the first half of 1925.  By this time, recordings made with the electrical process were also being released, so that this recording had relatively poor sales, and is consequently a rare disk to find.

 

Click here to listen to (download) Bizet's 1922 'Spanish Dance' from L'Arlésienne Suite No 2

 

1920 - Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila Bacchanale

 

Later in 1920, on December 6, Stokowski recorded music from the opera Samson et Dalila which Camille Saint-Saëns had completed in 1877.  This is the famous Bacchanale music from Act 3 of the opera during which Samson is taunted by Dalila and the High Priest, leading Samson to pull down the pillars of the temple, concluding the opera - dramatic music for a dramatic scene.

 

Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had tried, unsuccessfully to record this work during the October 18 and 19, 1920 recording sessions. The released recording is certainly a notable success. This approximately 4 minute excerpt is played with vitality and vividly recorded, particularly given the technical possibilities of acoustic recording in 1920.  What an evocative oboe introduction by Marcel Tabuteau!  And the recording shows the Philadelphia strings to be already unsurpassed in that era, if competing recordings are to be considered in comparison.  This recording transcends the technology of the period.

Click here to listen to - download Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila - Act 3 Bacchanale

1923 - Gounod - Faust Waltz from the 'Kermesse Scene'

 

Stokowski's only commercial recording of any music of Charles Gounod was of this 1923 recording of the Waltz from the end of Act 2, the 'Kermesse Scene', where Mephistopheles has transported Faust to show him the beautiful Marguarite.  This acoustic recording sounds remarkably good and is particularly spirited, felicitous and graceful; what a pleasure !  This waltz was recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra on May 1, 1923.  This successful side had followed three unsuccessful recording sessions of this same work in October, November and December of 1922.  The final recording was issued on a Victor double face 10 inch disk Victor 944, matrix B-27099-8, coupled with the Thomas Mignon music.  (According to John R. Bolig, it had been assigned Victor single-face disk number 66171, but was only issued in the double face 10 inch disk Victor 944. 3)

 

During this period, Stokowski's working practice was to record two to three takes of a piece and wait until a pressing was made from the wax master, and then, if not satisfied, record two or three takes again at a later recording session.  However, towards the end of the acoustic era, Stokowski insisted that Victor cut two 'masters' simultaneously, so that he could hear one (which was destructive to the wax master), and use the other master, if the take was successful.

 

This performance of the Waltz from the Act 2 Kermesse scene is elegant and stylish, with a period 'salon orchestra' flavor that adds to the pleasure we can receive even today from this performance in good sound.

 

Click here to listen to (download) 1923 Waltz from Gounod's Faust Act 2 'La Kermesse' scene

 

1923 – "Gavotte" entr'acte to Act 3 of Mignon by Ambroise Thomas

 

On the following Saturday, May 6, 1923 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra returned to the Camden Church Studio to record the famous Gavotte from the entr’acte between Act II and Act III of Ambroise Thomas's opera 'Mignon'.

 

Although Mignon is less performed today, in the nineteenth century, it was performed more than 1,000 times, and the Gavotte from the entr’acte before Act III was and is even more famous, probably having been arranged for most every instrumental combination from hurdy-gurdy to string quartet. 

 

This performance by Stokowski benefits from featuring primarily the strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with a young (age 28) William Kincaid in his third season with the orchestra providing a nice flute solo at the end, delivering a light and stylish performance that works well in an acoustic recording.    

This recording was issued on a Victor Red Seal 10 inch double-faced disk, Victor 944 matrix B-2798-1.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1923 Gavotte from Act III of Mignon by Thomas

 

Standing: Ferdinand Del Negro, bassoon, Marcel Tabuteau, oboe, Anton Horner, horn

Seated: Rufus Arey, clarinet, William Kincaid, flute in 1923

 

1924 - Debussy - Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

 

The last Stokowski acoustic recording of a French work was also, perhaps with the Wagner Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin, the most difficult to record, given the technical limitations of the acoustic recording process.  This was the beautiful, ethereal, and wide ranging Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy.

 

This was one of Stokowski's show-pieces, included for example in his third Cincinnati season in 1912, in his second London concert of May 22, 1912, following his resignation from Cincinnati, and in the latter half of his first season with the Philadelphia Orchestra March 7, 1913, and in  every year between 1915 and 1922 (excepting only 1916).

 

Stokowski and the orchestra had unsuccessfully attempted to record the Prélude during their initial 1917 sessions, and again in 1921, but neither were released by Stokowski.  Then, on April 28, 1924 in the Camden Church Studio the Philadelphians, with star soloists Marcel Tabuteau, oboe and William Kincaid, flute succeeded.  This performance was released in January, 1925 on a double sided 12 inch Victor Red Seal record 6481 matrix C-21057-5, C-21058-5.

 

This performance is both remarkable, and still satisfying, even with the major limitations of the acoustic recording process.  However, will need to await to hear the glorious 1927 recording from the Academy of Music to hear the full sweep and magic of this favorite Stokowski score.

 

Click here to listen to (download) the 1924 Debussy - Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune  

L'après-midi d'un faune choreographed and danced by Nijinsky

for the Ballets Russes in Paris, May, 1912

 


 

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.

 


 Bolig, John R. The Victor Red Seal Discography Volume 1: Single-Sided Series (1903-1925). Mainspring Press. Denver, Colorado. 2004. ISBN 0-9671819-8-4

 


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

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