1928 Recordings of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
As was noted in the pages of this web site for the year 1927,
and particularly in
1927 Season - Stokowski takes leave of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Stokowski did not conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra at
all for the 1927 - 1928 season, although he did record
very extensively during 1927. 1928 also was an
intensive recording year for Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra in a short period at year end.
As shown in the ship record below, Stokowski returned
to New York with his wife Evangeline and daughter Luba on
September 7, 1928, three weeks before the
first concert of the 1928 - 1929 season on October 4,
1928. Note that in the ship arrival information,
Stokowski was still deducting 5 years from his age.
Stokowski's Limited Conducting of the 1928-1929
Stokowski's conducting in the 1928-1929 concert season was
greatly reduced. He conducted only in October and
November of 1928 and March and April of 1929. These
two spans were at the beginning and at the end of the
The remainder of the season was conducted by a series of
guest conductors. First was Stokowski's friend Ossip
Gabrilowitsch, who was conductor of the Detroit Symphony from
1918 to 1936, and who conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra
November 30, 1928 to January 26, 1929,
including the Beethoven Ninth. Then Bernardino Molinari,
a champion of the music of Respighi and the conductor of the
Augusteo Orchestra of Rome from 1912 to 1944 (and whom Toscanini
heavily criticized) conducted the Philadelphians February 1,
2, and 4, 1929. Then followed from February 8 to March 2
Sir Thomas Beecham, at that time working primarily with the
London Symphony Orchestra. Beecham and Gabrilowitsch
also conducted the New York Philharmonic as guests in
After Beecham, from March 8 to March 23 Clemens Krauss conducted.
Krauss was during that period Director of the Vienna State Opera.
Krauss in the next year, 1930, became Music Director of the Vienna
Philharmonic Orchestra, which is of course made up of Vienna State Opera
musicians. as head of the Vienna Philharmonic, Krauss replaced
Wilhelm Furtwängler, who remained Music Director in Berlin. 8.
Clemens Krauss, left with Richard Strauss probably late 1940s
Although the first 1928 concerts began on October 4, in fact,
Stokowski initiated his 1928 recordings the week before,
beginning with a recording of the Brahms Symphony no 3 on
The Brahms Symphony no 3 was a strong thread throughout
Stokowski's career. In fact the Brahms Third was
included in his first season with the Cincinnati
Symphony Orchestra in 1909 2.
The Brahms Third and First symphonies seemed to be a
Stokowski standby whenever he needed to have a sure-fire
success with any audience.
Following the glorious recording of the Brahms Symphony no 1 of April, 1927,
much could be anticipated from this 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3.
It is a fine performance in many ways, but the speeding up and slowing
down of this reading often exceed the practices of Willem
Mengelberg. Mengelberg was well
known for a mannered acceleration and breaking, not
indicated in the score, and in the opinion of many, disrupting
the flow of the music). However, to my ears, the Stokowski
accelerating and breaking in some cases seem yet more
arbitrary an not organic to the work. This has the disadvantage
of possibly distracting the listener from enjoying Brahms, and rather
focus us on the 'interpretation
At the end of movements 1 allegro con brio, 3 poco Allegro,
and 4 allegro, Stokowski adds an extended diminuendo.
Stokowski also doubles the strings with other
instruments an octave higher in certain parts
Critical reaction to this Brahms Symphony no 3
recording over the years has in fact been along these
lines. Also similarly critical has been the assessment of the
sudden changes in tempo and the instrumental doubling of
the 1958 Houston Symphony Orchestra performance4.
speeding up and down of this 1928 Brahms number 3 is similar to
the Houston recording, so this is presumably Stokowski's
considered view of how the music should go.
In any case, the orchestral playing continues to be in the very first
class, as is the beauty of sound. listen to (download) the work by
clicking on the links below and decide for yourself!
Great thanks to Alan Tindall for the source material for this
Brahms symphony. Thanks Alan!
1928 - Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture
Throughout his career, Tchaikovsky was one of the
composers Stokowski most recorded. In the Stokowski -
Philadelphia Orchestra acoustic recordings of
Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia
Orchestra Tchaikovsky Acoustic Recordings),
Stokowski had already recorded, acoustically, movements from
Symphonies no 5 and no 6, the Song without Words and the
Dance of the Flutes from the Nutcracker. Stokowski had
also attempted, unsuccessfully, the Dance of the
Sugarplum Fairy, the Trepak, and Dance of the
Flowers from the Nutcracker, as well as arrangements of two
Liturgical Choruses, and the third movement of the
Symphony no 4, all during the acoustic era5.
It is not surprising, then, that
beginning with the introduction of the electrical
recording process by Victor in 1925 and through the
remainder of the decade, Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra recorded the works of Tchaikovsky more than those of
any other composer.
In September 1928 following his return from nearly one year
traveling to Europe and Asia, Stokowski and the
Philadelphians recorded the Overture-Fantasy Romeo and
Juliet. Stokowski had not attempted this score during
the acoustic era, although it had been frequently
performed by Stokowski since his debut with the
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909.
This recording was issued on five Victor Red Seal sides, catalog
numbers 6995, 6996, 6997, as part of Victor album M-46, with the
Falla Spanish Dance no 1 from La Vida breve
filling the sixth record side.
The matrix numbers were: CVE-46473-2,
CVE 46474-2, CVE-46475-2, CVE-46476-2 and CVE-46477-1A.
This 1928 recording is exciting, beautiful and interesting.
However, there is one aspect of Stokowski's reading that would
likely surprise a listener familiar with other performances
of this work. The score as usually performed has at the end
four bars of dramatic, clashing chords, presumably marking the
tragic conclusion of the story of Romeo and his beloved Juliet.
The final bars of the Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture
as usually heard in concert.
Stokowski concludes his performance of the Romeo and Juliet
Fantasy Overture with the fermata prior to the usual last 4 bars,
cuts these last 4 bars and adds an additional, gentle chord an octave
lower than the fermata chord, to make a revised ending. The
result is a soft and delicate culmination of the piece.
Since this is significantly different that the dramatic,
crashing chords included in the 4 suppressed bars of
Tchaikovsky's ending as usually performed, it may be somewhat startling
to those familiar with other performances of this work.
The music scholar and Stokowski expert Edward Johnson provides
a very good explanation of this decision by Stokowski.
Edward Johnson has pointed out that there is a basis in Tchaikovsky's
original composition of the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy
for Stokowski's quiet ending:
"...Tchaikovsky wrote three versions of this work (dated
1869, 1870 and 1880) and the original score is quite different
to the other two....there are only two loud chords at the end of
the first version: this was given its premiere recording by
Geoffrey Simon and the LSO on Chandos. The second version,
however, has never been recorded by anyone...the second version's
coda ('Moderato assai')...contains music that doesn't appear in
either of the other two versions...As to the 'quiet ending'
adopted by Stokowski...Rosa Newmarch's book dated 1906 6
quite clearly states in a footnote that Tchaikovsky omitted
those loud chords himself in his final version...What is true,
however, is that Tchaikovsky's publisher had already engraved
two editions of the work (the first one wasn't published until
the 1940s when it appeared in the Complete Tchaikovsky Edition
in Moscow) but evidently he wasn't going to publish yet another
for the sake of one page right at the end. So we have no actual
evidence of the change...What is clear is that Stokowski read that
book and because there was no published 'quiet ending' he decided
to provide one himself...it was that edition that he performed and
recorded all through his career..." [Edward Johnson email
The final bars of the Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture
in its first version - thanks to Edward Johnson.
So this exciting 1928 performance is well worth enjoying,
even today not only for its bracing reading, but also as an
example of the solution provided by Stokowski for this ending
to the Overture-Fantasy.
Click on the link below to listen to (download)
Stokowski's 1928 recording of the Romeo &
Juliet Overture-Fantasy by Tchaikovsky.
You may also compare Stokowski's quiet ending to Romeo and
Juliet with the ending from a performance by Willem Mengelberg,
with his Concertgebouw Orchestra recorded just 18 months later
in May, 1930 (British Columbia LX55 and LX56). Mengelberg
performs the ending familiar to most concert-goers.
Listen to the comparison by clicking the link below (Stokowski
first, followed by Mengelberg.)
Also, upon Stokowski's return to the United States, on September 27, 28,
and 29 in the Academy of Music, Stokowski and the orchestra made the first
recording (as far as I can determine), whether acoustic or
electric of the Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major of 1721, today one
of Bach's most popular works. Stokowski had performed
several of the Brandenburg Concerti, including playing number 2
in 1920 and 1921 with
Ernest Williams, then Principal trumpet of the
Stokowski recording is somewhat strange, even for the period, and did not
observe the Bach scholarship which was already building during the 1910s
and 1920's. Although we often consider "authentic" baroque
performance practice to be a development of recent decades,
Arnold Dolmetsch7 and others were writing, speaking and
performing early music using historic performance practices even
prior to World War 1.
Artists such as Wanda Landowski and Arnold Dolmetsch were demonstrating
the favorable results of a lighter and more stylish approach to this
music. Dolmetsch himself had
recorded for the Gramophone Company in London in 1921 and had
organized an early music festival by 1925. Also, modern
restorations and reproductions of baroque instruments were
Of course, Stokowski was far from being alone in a heavier, full orchestra
treatment of baroque music. Most other conductors of this era tended
to be slow and heavy. The Furtwängler performance of the
Brandenburg no 3 recorded two years later was also heavy,
although the third movement Allegro of Furtwängler is reasonably
light and rhythmic. Furtwängler and Stokowski were
either not aware, or chose not to follow such performance practices,
nor to use the original, lighter instrumental scoring of Bach.
For any listener familiar with this work in modern recordings,
the differences in Stokowski's performance practices will be
obvious from the first, with the heavier pace and variations of
rhythm. It is perhaps the variations of rhythm that take this
Stokowski performance so far away from the steady rhythmic pulse
of Bach - a solid rhythmic base that provides structure for
the contrapuntal interplay of the score.
Stokowski is also interested to stress echo effects in the
Further contributing to the heavier
effect are added instruments. The middle Andante movement
of the Brandenburg 2 is scored for flute, oboe, violin, 'cello,
and keyboard continuo, but this performance adds a full string
Also, the famous trumpet solo of the
third movement (today used to introduce several TV programs,
including Masterpiece Theater), usually so brilliant and bracing,
is here scored down by an octave and slowed.
Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2 opening of third movement as written by Bach
In Bach's time, this was played on a
trumpet without valves, using what is called "clarino playing"
for such high notes. Today, this is somewhat easier to
play on a valved trumpet, and is usually performed on a piccolo
trumpet. sometimes referred to as a "Bach trumpet".
Although this trumpet part is difficult, it seems unlikely that this
rescoring of trumpet solo down one octave was because the Philadelphia
Orchestra musicians of the caliber of
(who presumably plays here) were not capable capable of
playing the high trumpet notes, or did not have access to
a high B flat trumpet. For example,
Georges Mager, Principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony,
and a contemporary of Sol Caston, played this
music at the origin pitch on a high B flat trumpet for
Serge Koussevitzky 10. A generation later in
the Philadelphia Orchestra, Gilbert Johnson, Principal trumpet
brought this brilliant solo writing to exciting life.
Johnson would use a Bach long-bell trumpet pitched
in high B flat (the 'Piccolo Trumpet') in his
1958 Philadelphia performances.
Stokowski performed the Brandenburg
no 2 with the NBC Symphony in December, 1942, but I have not
heard that performance. The performance would likely have
been by Principal trumpet
Harry Glantz, since I don't believe
Glantz entered the military. Glantz had also been solo trumpet of the
Philadelphia Orchestra from 1915 - 1917, and of the New York
Philharmonic from 1923 - 1942, and the NBC from 1942 - 1954.
In any case,
this 1928 arrangement, plus the heavy pace of this performance will
likely be disconcerting to our ears, today.
Another performance effect used by
Stokowski in this work is an emphasis on an "echo" of a theme by
different instruments. This is reminiscent of the use of
echo in church organ performances of Bach works with different
organ choirs echoing themes. Missing from Stokowski's
performance is the clear presentation of the multiple voices of
baroque counterpoint, and their interplay. In the baroque
concerto grosso style of the Brandenburg concerti, the solo
instrument, in this case the trumpet, called the "concertino"
interacts with the instrumental group, called the "ripieno",
with each contrasting and answering the other group.
Also, as to scoring, Bach writes
many clusters of sixteenth notes, which fire rapidly in the
score and present a dazzling, yet transparent polyphony.
The slow Stokowski performance, however, misses the
effervescence of the bubbling sixteenth notes and the interplay
of the counter-punctual writing. It would take another
half century for most orchestral performances to catch up with
the scholarship on baroque performance.
Please listen to (download) this
interesting performance, and then decide for yourself.
Also on September 27, 1928, Stokowski recorded the
Isaac Albéniz Fête Dieu à Seville from the Iberia suite,
from the Book 1, the third piece, originally for piano.
The Iberia suite was nearly
contemporary music at the time of this recording, having been
composed by Albéniz as a suite for piano between 1905 and 1909.
In fact, Stokowski and the Philadelphia gave its US premier in
Fête Dieu à Seville sometimes also called by its Spanish
title El Corpus en Sevilla evokes a
Corpus Christi Day procession in Seville,
during which celebration the body of Christ is carried through
the city streets, accompanied by band music.
Isaac Albéniz with his daughter Laura in 1905
Albéniz himself attempted to orchestrate
several of the movements of Iberia, some of which were privately
performed in Nice, but they were considered not a success.
Perhaps this was because Albéniz was suffering from a lingering
illness. Albéniz asked his friend,
Enrique Fernández Arbós,
a leading violinist and conductor of the Madrid Symphony
Orchestra for nearly 35 years to complete the orchestration.
Arbós completed the orchestration of Fête Dieu à Seville in
Certain sources credit the
orchestration on this recording as being by Arbós, but listening
to the recording from the opening, it is clear that this is the
Stokowski orchestration of the work. The differences
between Stokowski and Arbós are not great, but the choice of
instruments is clearly different.
This performance fully benefits from
the virtuoso qualities of the Philadelphia Orchestra at this
time, and the sumptuous, integrated sound they produced.
The beautiful English horn solo is by Victor Leoncavallo.
The sound of this 1928 recording made in the Academy of Music in
Philadelphia is as fine as any recording of the period,
capturing the Philadelphia Orchestra at its heights.
This is both a joyous, and at times, a somewhat hair-raising
performance. This is a great Stokowski performance, which
puts the music and the effects of the music first to the benefit
of the result. This recording still provides much
excitement and pleasure today.
Another Tchaikovsky work recorded by Stokowski and
the Philadelphia Orchestra soon after Stokowski's return
for the Autumn 1928 season of the was Tchaikovsky's Symphony no 4
in f minor. They recorded this symphony in the Academy of
Music on September 28 and 29, 1928, with a make-up session on
December 8, 1928.
This is an exciting performance, but with some
surprising changes to the score, discussed further,
The recording is in general a good one, but difficult to
restore. The sound can easily become 'boomy' or
bass-heavy. It is difficult to retain the important
foundation of the bass strings, while avoiding the muddy
effect of some of the bass resonances. As you
will hear, the restoration provided in the links below,
done by the audio mastering and restoration expert,
Marcos Abreu, has overcome these difficulties.
Also, Marcos, via his restoration magic,
has provided a transparency
usually missing in this recording. The effect is
something like cleaning away the accumulated dirt from
the painting of an old master, and revealing its original
beauty. Marcos has also added a very slight amount of
ambiance to the recording, which provides some needed 'air',
yet retains the original sound. You can contact him
at Marcos Abreu - Audio mastering and restoration services,
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
We all thank you Marcos !
(note: these are large files to download, particularly the
first movement - 19 megabytes.)
This recording was released in early 1929 in Victor
Musical Masterpiece album M-48. The album contained
five 12 inch Red Seal disks Victor 6929, 6930, 6931, 6932 and
6933 (or in Europe HMV DB 1793, DB 1794, DB 1795, DB 1796)
matrices CVE 46486-4, CVE 46487-1A, CVE 46488-2, CVE 46489-2,
CVE 46490-2, CVE 46491-2A, CVE 46492-1A, CVE 46493-1A,
CVE 46494-3A, and CVE 46495-2A.
The author of this website claims certain prerogatives,
including as a critic of these Stokowski performances.
There is something about the Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 that tends
to bring out certain extremes in interpretation by Stokowski.
By 'extremes', I make reference to extensive alterations to the
score in ways that seem to me to be arbitrary, as well as the
mannered speeding up and slowing down, not linked to the musical
flow. The interpretation seems to spotlight Stokowski more
than Tchaikovsky. All the Stokowski performances of the
Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 which I have heard, including a 1964
live performance with the American Symphony
Orchestra in New York, were revised and manipulated to an extent
that reduces enjoyment (at least for me).
In fact, this 1928 performance is probably the most effective in
presenting a convincing recording of Stokowski's interpretation,
while having perhaps less arbitrary
changes. The bazaar 1971 American Symphony Orchestra
Symphony no 4 is probably the most extreme. This recording
is still available on Vanguard, so you can hear and judge for
yourself. Interestingly, this Vanguard recording was
also one of Stokowski’s quadraphonic recordings.
In this 1928 recording, the Stokowski changes to this symphony
begin at the beginning. The notes of the first movement begin
with a series of dominating calls in A flat from the horns and the
bassoon, hammering home the initial theme. In the download
links of the restoration of this recording by Marcos Abreu above, listen to
, horn and
, bassoon, playing this music, both at the acme of their
musical careers. This opening for the horns and bassoon
is in triplets as written by Tchaikovsky, seemingly expressing
some deep, personal theme. Some have spoken of a
theme of 'fate' or 'defiance'.
Opening of the first movement of Tchaikovsky Symphony
no 4 with horn and bassoon triplets.
Stokowski replaces the triplets with eighth
notes, changing this dominating horn call into something less
bracing and tending toward a heavy, awkward impression, or so it seems
to me. Later in this movement, this key opening theme in A flat
is taken up by the trumpets, but Stokowski seems not to change the theme
in a similar way when it is played by the trumpets. Puzzling.
Listeners may have differences of opinion as to the result of
these changes. However, it would seem striking to many
listeners that Stokowski would feel free to change
what is perhaps one of the most personal and soulful
expressions of anguish or of
defiance or whatever is the feeling which Tchaikovsky
was expressing in this opening. Further, to do so in
one of the most famous symphonic openings in the
literature demonstrated Stokowski’s self-confidence
(others would perhaps have a more negative label for
Listen to the first 30 seconds of this introduction played by
Stokowski and the Philadelphians in 1928, compared with
Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in
1936 and make your own judgment as to the relative
merits. (Stokowski first, followed by Koussevitzky.)
There are other changes, particularly in the first, third
and fourth movements. However, beyond orchestration,
Stokowski directs much speeding up and slowing down,
particularly in the first and fourth movements.
The second movement, beginning with a beautiful oboe
passage played by
is somewhat less mannered. The third movement Scherzo does not
suffer from the speeding and slowing, since it is played
pizzicato by the strings as marked. Later, the
brass enter staccato, and finally ending with quiet
pizzicato strings, in a fleet performance.
Willem Mengelberg was famous for his mannered
accelerations and heavy breaking in his Tchaikovsky
recordings, but Stokowski's seems (to me) often as
arbitrary, with these changes not organic to the music.
Mravinsky delivered a number of exhilarating Tchaikovsky
Symphony performances with his Leningrad Philharmonic,
and Stokowski at times drives his players with equally
rapid pacing in some parts of the fourth movement. However,
Stokowski will also apply the brakes to linger over a theme.
The cumulative effect of this, at least to my
ears, is to take the listener away
from enjoyment of the music, and rather focus our
attention on Stokowski the interpreter.
However, you may well disagree - please listen to the
recording on the links above and judge for yourself.
You can be sure of a stimulating performance, in any case.
As a point of comparison, by clicking
on the link below, you can hear the last 1 1/2 minute of
the fourth movement of this Tchaikovsky Symphony, first
played by Stokowski in 1928 recording, followed
immediately Koussevitzky in 1936.
See if you also form conclusions similar to what I have
described. (Stokowski is first, followed by Koussevitzky.)
1928 - Manuel de Falla La Vida Breve - Danse espagnole
At the end of an intensive series of recordings in September and
December of 1928, on December 8, 1928 in the Academy of Music,
Stokowski recorded the Danse espagnole from the Manuel de Falla
opera La Vida Breve (or Life is Short) composed only 16
years previously, in 1912.
The Danse espagnole takes place in the wedding scene of this
brief one hour opera, and is an orchestral show-piece.
This 1928 recording was Stokowski's only recording of this
music by de Falla, which is surprising, since its exotic beauty seems
to be on Stokowski's wave-length. Fortunately, this recording is
of a joyous and free performance with
and open sound. The Spanish flavor is combined with the lush
string sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra. What a pleasure
to listen to (download) this stunning performance, also with good sound.
This recording was released March 29, 1929 as a filler side for the
Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, recorded the previous
September. This was included in Victor Musical Masterpiece Album M-46, and the
Falla music was on Side B of the Victor 12 inch Red Seal 6997,
matrix CVE-47923-2 in that album.
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:
3 The following is
from the Moberly (Missouri) Democrat newspaper of December 31,
"Hide Orchestra From Audience
Philadelphia, Pa. Dr. Leopold
Stokowski, director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, predicts the
day will soon arrive when concerts will be "given under cover."
The orchestra in the future will be
in a sunken stage, and the audience will hear the delicate
strains pouring forth without being forced to watch drummer
pounding, fiddlers scraping, and trombonists shooting in and out
their slides, according to Dr. Stokowski.
'If all the other senses of the
audience were inactive, I believe the hearing would be much more
acute and the people would enjoy music and perceive its
complexities much more keenly', the leader said.
'The way the arrangement could be
made would be to have a sunken stage so that neither the
musicians nor the conductor would be visible, and then just let
the music flow out over the audience.' "
"...The Brahms Third is one of those
Stokowski performances wherein the conductor seeks to "improve"
the score by subjecting it to a number of alterations of his own
devising. Thus, we hear high octave string doublings in the
first movement, a dovetailed trio and clipped note values in the
third, and sustained diminuendos at the conclusion of all four
movements. Rather than enhancing Brahm's work, these tinkerings
tend to draw attention to themselves, or more precisely, to the
conductor, who already makes his presence undeniable through his
extreme tempo shifts in the first movement (which the Houston
Symphony pulls off without a sweat). If Brahms is less important
to you than Stokowski, then this recording will satisfy. "
5 See the
excellent Stokowski discography, including acoustic works
recorded, but not issued by the Stokowski expert and
scholar: Enno Riekena found at: