The first Russian work was a fine recording of Nikolai
Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture, opus 36,
which the recorded January 26, 1929. This was the first
of four commercial recordings of this work which Stokowski made,
and at least two more concert performances have been captured.
The performance is taut and vital, with a beautiful series of violin solos by
Mischa Mischakoff, one of his last recorded solos with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The horn themes played by Anton Horner are bracing and demonstrate the
which the Philadelphia Orchestra had attained. This recording is as vital today
as any modern competitive recording, and demonstrates again
Stokowski's affinity for the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908).
This 1929 recording was issued on four sides of two Victor 12 inch
Red Seal recordings, 7018 and 7019, matrix numbers CVE-48923-1,
CVE-48924-3A, CVE-48925-2A, CVE-48926-1. The sound is beautiful an belies its
age after more than eighty years have passed.
Click here to listen to (or download) the January, 1929 -
Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Overture
January, 1929 - Tchaikovsky - Capriccio italien
The second January recording by Stokowski was also of Russian music,
a spectacular recording of the Tchaikovsky Capriccio italien,
opus 45. This was recorded on Monday and Wednesday,
January 28, 30 1929 between the normally scheduled concerts of
that weekend. The Capriccio italien begins with
a noble trumpet solo by
Saul Caston in his tenth year with the
orchestra and his fifth year as Principal trumpet (and he was
still only aged 28.) For the recording era, this was a sonic
spectacular. This performance is also noble and inspired, showing none
of the excesses or overblown effects of many later recordings which turned this fine
music into something of a "pot-boiler" in the wrong hands.
The recording was issued on two 12 inch Victor Red Seal disks,
6949, 6950 matrix numbers CVE-48932-1, CVE-48933-2, CVE-48934-3,
CVE-48935-2. I have included some reverberation in the transfer of the
sides, which I believe opens up the sound, but also adds a slight echo to the
surface imperfections - restoration seems always to be a question of conflicting
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1929 - Tchaikovsky - Capriccio italien
These recordings of the Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Overture
and the Tchaikovsky Capriccio
italien were the last recordings by the Philadelphia Orchestra with
their famous concertmaster Mischa Mischakoff (1895-1981). Anne
Mischakoff Heiles in her fascinating and finely written and researched
biography 5 of her father describes the resignation of Mischa
Mischakoff from the Philadelphia Orchestra.
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Mischakoff and Dubinsky Quit the Philadelphia Orchestra
Mischa Mischakoff was Concertmaster of the Philadelphia
Orchestra for only two seasons. In the 1928-1929
season, Stokowski only conducted the Orchestra during the
first series of 8 concerts in October-November, 1928, and in
the last 5 series of concerts in March-April 1929 6.
The Mozart Symphony no 40, the work involved in the
Mischakoff resignation was performed Saturday March 30 and
Monday April 1. Anne Mischakoff Heiles describes the
Mischakoff departure: "...During a rehearsal shortly
before Easter in 1929 [note: Easter fell on March 31 in
1929], Stokowski complained about the quality of the string
tone in an important and difficult passage from Mozart's
Symphony no 40 in G Minor. He first asked all the
strings to repeat it. Then he called on each player in
the first violin section to play the measures one by one in
front of the orchestra. At this point, Mischakoff
stood up and resigned..." 7. Heiles further
observes: "...Some orchestra members believed that
Stokowski's behavior at the rehearsal was intended to
humiliate Mischakoff. 7" In any case,
Mischakoff departed from Philadelphia and went on to become
Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic the next season.
Herbert Kupferberg in his interesting book on the
Philadelphia Orchestra Those Fabulous Philadelphians
states that David Dubinsky, of the second violins joined
Mischakoff: "...Mischakoff announced he was leaving the orchestra, and he was joined by
David Dubinsky, leader of the second violins..." 8 Dubinsky was also
personnel manager of the orchestra.
After the departures of the star Concertmasters Thaddeus Rich
and Mischa Mischakoff and 1929, Stokowski apparently had enough of Concertmasters, and
from 1929 until 1935, Stokowski preferred to rotate, alphabetically by name, the first
violins into the lead chair. 9
Mischakoff in the
interesting interview with Mischa Mischakoff
does not mention this incident, but speaks well of Stokowski.
Mischakoff showed no ill will towards Stokowski, who although impersonal,
and indirectly critical of his musicians, was certainly
less personally abusive than many other maestros of that era.
Mischa Mischakoff in the late 1920s
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1929 - Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2 in c minor opus 18
On Wednesday and Saturday, April 10 and 13, 1929, in the Academy of Music,
Stokowski and Rachmaninoff recorded again the Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto no 2 in c minor opus 18. Recall that in January and
December, 1924 Rachmaninoff and Stokowski had recorded this
concerto acoustically in Camden. (
see 1924 - Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto no 2
) This 1924 recording, while a splendid performance, had two difficulties.
First of course was the acoustic recording process, although the 1924 recording was of
remarkably good sound, given the limitations of the acoustic
recording process. The second
drawback was that the first movement was never released. The major part of the
first movement was recorded on a twelve inch (30 cm) disk which Rachmaninoff had
approved. However, Rachmaninoff did not approve of any of the takes of the
ten inch (25 cm) disk, which contained the conclusion of the first movement.
This conclusion had been recorded in December, 1924, just months before Victor's
adoption of the new Westrex electrical recording process.
So the 1924 recording, as released, lacked a first movement. Consequently,
this 1929 recording gains added importance.
What can be said about this famous recording which has not already been
said ? Since its initial release on September 27, 1929, it has
never been out of the catalogues. It remained in the Victor Red Seal
78 RPM catalogue as long as 78s were sold. It existed in a Victor
45 RPM album: Victor WCT 18. It was then issued on several Victor
33 1/3 RPM LPs, for many years in the US in LM-6123, and in Europe on
HMV ALP 1630. This legendary recording was further included the
1973 LP version of "Rachmaninoff: His Complete Recordings"
(restored by Ward Marston), and again in the CD version of that same complete
edition. Mark Obert-Thorn later engineered two further excellent
restorations on Biddulph and on NAXOS Historical CDs (see
Masters of the Modern Restoration of Historic Disks
). Interestingly, Mark Obert-Thorn's restorations
are of two different sets of matrix "takes", one being of the matricies used in the
Victor release, and the other of alternative matricies residing in the Victor
vaults and providing slight, but interesting alternative performance variations.
Ward Marston's restoration in the RCA Rachmaninoff Complete Recordings
So, this recording has been issued in nearly every recorded format
from 78, 45, and 33 1/3 RPM discs, cassettes, 8-track, and CD.
This recording is also, of course, one of the classics of recorded history. The
National Recording Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress has named this recording
one of the 250 (so far) most important recordings in phonograph history1.
Yet, it is also not an easy recording to restore. The RCA Victor engineers, over
the years have done this recording some great disservices. I believe that all
the Victor reissues, are over-processed, although of course their restorations have the
advantage of access to the metal masters, the best available source. In contrast,
Ward Marston and Mark Obert-Thorn have done excellent restorations, although Ward Marston's
in the Rachmaninoff Complete Recordings on RCA seems to have been subjected
to further RCA engineers "improvements". Mark Obert-Thorn's
Naxos Historical restoration of this concerto (Naxos 8.110601) is perhaps the best yet.
The restored recording in the links, below, were done by the mastering and restoration
engineer Marcos Abreu, and is an excellent and also subtle restoration. You can
contact him at Marcos Abreu - Audio mastering and restoration services, email
Thanks Marcos !
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2 movement 1
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2 movement 2
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2 movement 3
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Differences in Interpretation between Stokowski and Rachmaninoff
As was stated in various sources (see
Rachmaninoff and Stokowski Disagree on Interpretation
), Stokowski and Rachmaninoff did not always fully agree as to how the
performance of his works should go. In fact, during his career,
Stokowski, whenever a composer might be present during his rehearsals,
and perhaps suggest a change would say "oh! the composer is here and wants
a change; let him conduct!". Stokowski would then hand the baton
to the flustered composer.
Listening to this performance, my own guess is that Rachmaninoff preferred
a more fleet performance, while Stokowski was absorbed by the opulence
of the music and its sound. In any case, the resulting performance
is well coordinated and coherent. I would believe both artists
to have been very satisfied with the result, just as we have been, since.
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May, 1929 - Stokowski Orchestrations of Bach Works
In January, April and May of 1929, Stokowski recorded three more
of his orchestrations of Bach works. Recall that in 1927, Stokowski had
recorded his orchestrations of the Bach Toccata and Fugue in d, the
Prelude no 8 in e flat from the Well Tempered Clavier, and the
Chorale Prelude Ich ruf' zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ.
Now in 1929 he was to record the Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor,
Sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio, and the Chorale Prelude
Wir glauben all an einen Gott.
1929 Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor BWV 582
The first of these Bach recordings was of Stokowski's arrangement of
the Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor BWV 582. According to
Rollin Smith, this was the first Bach organ work that Stokowski transcribed
for full symphony orchestra, which he did in 1922 3.
Stokowski performed the orchestration with the Philadelphia Orchestra
in 1922, and in fact, Stokowski performed the Passacaglia several times
in every Philadelphia Orchestra season which he conducted between 1922
and 1940, excepting only 1928 and 1933 4.
The first Bach transcription recording was actually begun January 28, 1929,
recording sides 1, 2, and 4 of the Passacaglia. Then, side 3 was
completed on May 1, 1929.
The Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor BWV 582 is of course one of
Bach's most famous organ works, which Stokowski would have performed
many times during his career as church organist in England and then in
New York City during the period 1898 to 1908.
Although I am not one of those who are "allergic" to
orchestrations of Bach keyboard works for orchestra, including some of the
more "high calorie" Stokowski orchestrations, I am also not a convinced
devotee of all of them. Yet this 1929 Passacaglia and Fugue in
c minor recording is noble and moving, reaching or at least approaching,
in my opinion, the greatness of the original organ work. This
is a grand performance in good sound.
This recording was released on four 12 inch sides, Victor Red Seal disks
7090, 7091 Matrix CVE-48927-1 CVE-48928-5 CVE-48929-2A CVE-48930-2A in
Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-59 (which also contained the Bach
Brandenburg Concerto no 2 of 1928 and the Chorale Prelude "Wir
glauben all an einen Gott", described below.)
Click below, listen, and judge for yourself the merits of this
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1929 version of Bach Passacaglia and
Fugue in c minor
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1929 recording of the Sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248
The series of recordings of Bach arrangements for full symphony orchestra continued
on April 30, 1929 and May 1, 1929. The next Bach transcription was
of the famous Sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio (or "
Weihnachtsoratorium") BWV248, another work which Stokowski
would have performed many times at Christmas concerts when he was a chorus
master as well as church music director. This recording was issued as a
separate 12 inch Victor Red Seal disk, Victor 7142, matrices CVE-47965-1 and
CVE-47970-1.  The Victor release occurred in November, 1929, just in time for
the Christmas season.
This performance is slow and subjective - more than 8 minutes in performance,
compared with a typical 5 minutes in modern baroque ensemble performances.
Without considering more recent Baroque performance practices, which were
foreign to 1920s performances, this recording still lacks (to my ears) the
ultimate lightness and delicacy which provides its grace and beauty, as well as
the clarity of the best performances of the original work by smaller ensembles.
Listen by clicking the link below and judge for yourself.
Click here to listen to (or download) Bach's Christmas Oratorio Sinfonia BWV248
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1929 - Chorale Prelude "Wir glauben all an einen
The third Bach-Stokowski arrangement was recorded on May 1, 1929.
This was of the famous Bach Chorale Prelude "Wir glauben all an
einen Gott" ("We all believe in but one God")
BWV680, from the Clavierübung Volume III, which also would have been one
of the staples of Stokowski's church organ concerts. This transcription
of this brief organ prelude captures much of the complexity and beauty of
the original. The contrapuntal interplay of the sublime organ work
is recreated, and this is one of the more successful Stokowski Bach
organ transcriptions, which he performed often over the next 45 years.
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1929 Bach "We all believe in
but one God" BWV680
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1929 - Eichheim Japanese Nocturne from the Suite Oriental
Henry Eichheim was born January 3, 1870 in Chicago, Illinois of parents from
Bavaria, Germany. Henry Eichheim's father
(about 1840-about 1905) was cellist with the Chicago Symphony under Theodore
Thomas 1891-1892 and 1897-1899. Henry Eichheim studied music and the violin
at the Chicago Musical College during the 1880s. For twenty-two seasons,
Henry Eichheim was in the violin section of the Boston Symphony
12. After Henry Eichheim left the Boston Symphony, he
turned to composition. Eichheim was attracted to the style of the
contemporary French 'Impressionist' compositions of composers such as
Debussy and Ravel. Between 1915 and 1935, Henry Eichheim made
five extensive trips to the Asia-Pacific region. Leopold Stokowski
accompanied Henry Eichheim on part of an Asian trip in 1928.
During these voyages, Eichheim collected both Asian instruments, and
themes and songs from music he heard in these countries. Inspired by this
exposure to Asian music, Eichheim began a series of works including 'Oriental
Impressions' Suite (1922), 'Nocturnal Impressions of Peking',
'The Moon, My Shadow and I' (1926), 'Korean Sketches', 'Burma Sketch',
'Chinese Legend', 'Bali' (1931), 'Java' (1929), 13.
Beginning in 1922, Henry Eichheim lived for many years in Santa Barbara,
California, where he died August 22, 1942.
The 'Oriental Impressions' Suite was composed in the period from 1918-1922.
In March, 1922 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had performed movements from
Eichheim's 'Oriental Impressions': 'Chinese Sketch' and 'Japanese Nocturne'
14. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had also tried,
unsuccessfully, to record the "Japanese Nocturne' movement of Eichheim's 'Oriental
Impressions' acoustically in May, 1923. However, this early recording was
unsuccessful and not released. Then, during the April 29 to May 4 week of
recording sessions, Stokowski again recorded Eichheim's 'Japanese Nocturne'
from Suite 'Oriental Impressions'
Sketch of Henry Eichheim by Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1871-1946)
Japanese Nocturne from the Suite Oriental
Impressions by Henry Eichheim was issued on
Victor Red Seal 12 inch (30 cm) disk Victor 7260, coupled with November,
1932 recording of Eten Raku - Eighth Century Ceremonial Prelude
, arranged by Hidemaro Konoye on the other side.
Click here to listen to (download) the Japanese Nocturne by Eichheim from 1929
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1929 - Brahms Symphony no 2 in D major, opus 73
On Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30, 1929
Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the Brahms Symphony no
2 in D major in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. With this
recording, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra were well on their
way to their achievement of being the first conductor and first group to
have recorded a complete Brahms symphony cycle.
This recording was issued on
Victor Red Seal 12 inch disks, number 7277 through 7282, with matrices
CVE 47951 through CVE 47962, issued in Victor Musical Masterpiece series
M-82. It was also issued by HMV as D1877-D1882.
This recording by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1929, and
the Sir Thomas Beecham - London Philharmonic recording from March, 1936
(in Europe on Columbia LX-115, LX-116, LX-117, LX-118, LX-119) were
the two dominant recordings of the Brahms Symphony no 2
during the 1930s. Later in the mid 1930s for Columbia, Felix Weingartner
completed his Brahms symphony cycle with a fine recording with the London
Symphony Orchestra on European Columbia LX 899, LX-900, LX-901, LX-902, LX-903.
This Stokowski recording shows the Philadelphia Orchestra in excellent form. There
are cuts in the second movement, although not, it would seem, for 78 RPM side timing.
This Brahms Symphony no 2 recording is more straightforward than the next Stokowski commercial
recording, a somewhat mannered performance with the "National Philharmonic" London
pick-up orchestra made in April, 1977 (48 years after this Philadelphia
recording!). The 1977 London recording was of course one of Stokowski's
This recording was issued 12 inch (30 cm) Victor Red Seal sides, catalogue numbers
7277, 7278, 7279, 7280, 7281, 7282 in Victor Musicial Masterpiece album M-82, first movement on
four sides matrices CVE 47951-3, CVE 47952-2, CVE 47953-2, CVE 47954-2, second movement on
three sides CVE 47955-3, CVE 47956-3A, CVE 47957-2, third movement on two sides
CVE 47959-1, CVE 47960-2, and the fourth movement on three sides CVE 47961-2,
CVE 47962-2, CVE 47963-4. In Europe, it was issued on the Gramophone Company
disks D 1877, D 1878, D 1879, D 1880, D 1881, and D 1882.
Great thanks to Alan Tindall for the source material for this Brahms symphony.
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1929 Brahms Symphony no 2 in D major Movement 1
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1929 Brahms Symphony no 2 in D major Movement 2
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Brahms Symphony no 2 in D major Movement 3
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Brahms Symphony no 2 in D major Movement 4
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1929 - Sibelius Swan of Tuonela
During the recording sessions of May 2 and 3, 1929 Stokowski and the
Philadelphians produced a beautiful and mysterious recording of Sibelius
'Swan of Tuonela', the third of his "Four Legends", opus
22. This performance has a beautiful English Horn solo which is
apparently played by
, usually principal oboe of the orchestra. Tabuteau has an interesting
story about this, recounted in Laila Storch's superb biography of Tabuteau:
"...John de Lancie remembered Tabuteau's story of how the record
came to be made in May 1929. 'Stoki called him up one morning and said,
"I would like to record the Swan tomorrow." Tabuteau didn't
even have an English horn. He got on the train and went to New York to
rent an instrument. He then came back to Philadelphia the same evening,
sat up all night in his studio making English horn reeds, then went in
the next morning and recorded it'."2. Please pick up a copy
of Leila Storch's excellent biography: Marcel Tabuteau: How Do You Expect to
Play the Oboe If You Can't Peel a Mushroom?, from Indiana University Press.
I guarantee you will read it more than once, it is so much fun 2.
Marcel Tabuteau, Principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra
1915 to 1954 and sometimes English horn soloist
This is a hauntingly beautiful performance of this famous Sibelius tone poem,
based on the Finnish Kalevala saga. In this work, Lemminkainen,
the hero of the saga is charged to kill the mystic swan that swims around the
island of Tuonela, isle of the dead. Lemminkainen himself is killed by a
poisoned arrow, but revives in the next part of the saga.
This tone poem is famous for the long English horn solo throughout the work,
which represents the swan. It also has important oboe parts,
presumably taken up by one of Tabuteau's oboe colleagues.
Click here to listen to (download) the Sibelius Swan of Tuonela from 1929
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1929 - Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suite
Stokowski on May 3 and 4, 1929 recorded his suite of excerpts from Georges Bizet's
incidental music to L'Arlésienne.
Georges Bizet (1838-1875) adapted two suites from his incidental music to a play
by his contemporary Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897). The play, presented on
October 1872, was not particularly successful, so Bizet used the music not only in
the two suites, but also as arranged for piano four hands. The original score
consisted of 27 musical sections, and the original orchestration was for only 26
musicians. However, the next month, Bizet re-orchestrated part of the music
in to a four movement suite, which was a great success at the famous
Cirque d'Hiver de Paris. After Bizet's death, his
friend Ernest Guiraud (1837-1892) arranged the original music to L'Arlésienne
into a second suite, adding music from Bizet's opera
La Jolie Fille de Perth.
Stokowski's suite is essentially the L'Arlesienne Suite no 1, with the
addition of a Danse provençale, which is the Andantino from the
Pastorale of the L'Arlesienne Suite no 2. Stokowski inserts
this dance between the Adagietto and the concluding Carillon of
the Suite no 1.
Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite was recorded May 3 and 4, 1929
in the Academy of Music. The suite was issued on five Victor
12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal sides, contained in Musical Masterpiece Album M-62:
Victor 7124, 7125, 7126, matrix numbers CVE-47981-2, CVE-47982-1,
CVE-47983-2, CVE-47984-1, CVE-47985-2, CVE-47986-1. In Europe, this
was issued by the Gramophone Company on D 1802, D 1801, and D 1803.
Click here to listen to (download) Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite - Prelude
Click here to
listen to (download) Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite - Minuetto
Click here to
listen to (or download) Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite - Adagietto
Click here to
listen to (or download) Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite - Danse provençale
Click here to
listen to (or download) Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite - Carillon
Score to Carillon from Ernest Guiraud's arrangement of Bizet's L'Arlésienne
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Ambroise Thomas Opera "Mignon" - Rondo Gavotte from Act 2
On May 4, 1929, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
recorded the Rondo Gavotte from the beginning of Act 2
of the Ambroise Thomas opera 'Mignon'. This opera
was composed about 1864-1865 and given its debut in the
Paris the Opéra-Comique in November 1866. Thomas wrote some
20 operas, not worrying too much if the libretto was bad. His
masterpiece, Mignon (1866) was continuously popular during the
Nineteenth Century. Mignon is also an example of the type of
libretti of Thomas operas - in the story, Mignon is a child stolen
by gypsies (you get the idea). In later years this gifted
composer became Director of the Paris Conservatoire, grew heavy and
became a fixture of the musical establishment. He was elected
to the Académie française in 1851, in preference to Berlioz.
Thomas (born in 1911) lived to see the one-thousandth performance
of Mignon in 1894, after which performance Thomas was presented with
the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
Two orchestral excerpts from Mignon continue to be popular
today: the Overture to Act 1, and this Rondo Gavotte which
acts as entr'acte music played at the beginning of Act 2.
This music is also used by Thomas in the famous
"Me voici dans son boudoir"
sung by Frederick.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 recording of the Gavotte from Mignon
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1929 - Boccherini - String Quintet No 1 in E opus 11 no 5 - Minuetto
Just after recording the Gavotte from Mignon, on May 4, 1929 Stokowski
and the Philadelphia Orchestra also recorded two short Stokowski
orchestrations of eighteenth century chamber music works: the
third movement of the Boccherini String Quintet no 1, and a movement
of a String Quartet attributed to Haydn, but now known by scholars
to have been written by Romanus Hoffstetter (more below).
The minuetto movement from the String Quintet in E by Luigi
Boccherini (1743-1805) had long been a favorite for recording, by
band, chamber music groups, and orchestral groups since the beginning
of phonograph recording.  In fact, C. G. Arnold 10 lists no less
than 15 acoustic recordings of this minuetto,
including the January, 1922 recording of the Boccherini by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
This 1929 recording demonstrates that suave and delicate abilities of the
Philadelphia Orchestra string section. As with most Philadelphia recordings
of this period, the sound is clean and transparent. This recording, which
still provides joy today after 80 years, was issued on a Victor 10 inch (25 cm)
Red Seal disk Victor 7256, and in Britain on the Gramophone Company disk
HMV D 1864, from matrix CVE 47988-3. The Hoffstetter - Haydn Quartet movement,
below, was on the flip side.
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1929 - Hoffstetter (attributed to Haydn) - String Quartet in F major - Andante cantabile
On the other side of the Boccherini Quintet, Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra recorded a work long attributed to Franz Josef Haydn, but now
known to have been written by the Haydn contemporary Romanus Hoffstetter
(1742-1815). Hoffstetter admired Haydn, and emulated his style.
Also, it may be that Paris music publishers of that period represented
Hoffstetter's quartet compositions as being by Haydn, so as to increase
sales of the music. In any case H. C. Robbins Landon has put forward
a convincing analysis that the opus 3 works are not by Haydn, but rather by
Hoffstetter - although scholars still argue the point (which they may
enjoy doing !). In any case, we have the benefit of enjoying the music.
This second movement of the String Quartet in F major, opus 3, no 5, Hob III-17,
marked Andante cantabile has long been a popular orchestral show-piece for
the strings in various orchestrations, including for decades prior to Stokowski's
orchestration. Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded this
work in December, 1924 in an acoustic recording, but it was never released.
Perhaps Stokowski did not approve the recording, or perhaps the advent of
the electrical recording process a few months later caused Victor to decide against
release of the disk. In any case, Stokowski re-recorded the work in this
beautiful 1929 electrical version with virtuoso playing by the orchestra.
This recording was issued on a Victor Red Seal 10 (25 cm) inch disk 7256 (or in
Britain by the Gramophone Company on D 1864), from matrix CVE 47989-1.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 recording of the String Quartet in F - Andante cantabile
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The Autumn 1929 Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings
On Monday through Friday during the week of September 23-27, 1927, Stokowski
and the Philadelphia
Orchestra recorded a series of new recordings in the Academy of Music.
This was a week before the regular Philadelphia Orchestra season opened
on Friday, October 3. In that era, the Philadelphia Orchestra
season was from the beginning of October until the end of April.
It was only in the 1960s, with leading orchestras seeking to provide
year-around employment for their musicians that the main orchestral
season was extended from September to May.
During this week, a full recording
program included the Wagner Overture and Bacchanale music from
Tannhäuser, Le Sacre du Printemps by Stravinsky, the Saint-Saëns
Carnival des animaux, and two marches by Sousa: El capitán and
Stars and Strips Forever. This was the full recording program
until Stokowski and the Philadelphians returned to recording in March 1930.
Between these two recording sessions, the Wall Street crash leading to the great
economic depression that was to so effect the Orchestra, and the world in general
occurred in October, 1929.
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1929 - Wagner - Tannhäuser - Overture and Venusberg Music
When Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra began their Autumn recording sessions
from September 23 to 27, 1929, they began with the Overture and Venusberg Music
from Wagner's opera Tannhäuser. This was from the 1861 Paris version of the
opera, except without chorus, which is in the original Paris score. Recall
that Stokowski had recorded, acoustically
, which is without a Bacchanale scene, added for the 1861 Paris Opera staging,
which required a scene for ballet. Incidentally, although the 1921 acoustic
recording of the Tannhäuser Overture is sonically ancient, it remains a moving
and beautifully played performance, which it is difficult to believe could
have been captured within the limitations of the old acoustic recording process.
the Paris production of 1861
This music was recorded over a period of some seven months, which presents some
problems in the transcription of the music. The Tannhäuser Overture and
Venusberg Music takes up six full 78 RPM sides. The first session of
September 23, 1929 produced side 3 (matrix CVE 51878-2) and the final two sides
5 and 6 (matrices CVE 51880-1A, CVE 51875-2). Sides 1 and 2 (matrices
CVE 51876-5A, CVE 51877-5A) were taken from the March 14, 1930 session,
but apparently, yet another session was necessary to record
a satisfactory side 4 (matrix CVE 51879-4A). Meanwhile, the changes in
recording set-up, orchestra placement, microphone placement must have been
significant between sessions, since the acoustic picture is noticeably different
from session to session.  This presents the difficulty to achieve sound
continuity from side to side. This is done primarily through equalization
to seek to produce a similar sound space. There are limitations (at
least in technology available to this stokowski.org site) as to achieving
such a balance between sides. Particularly difficult is the transition
between sides 3 and 4.  However, this is a beautiful and well-recorded
performance, from which you are likely to gain much satisfaction.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1929 Wagner Tannhäuser Overture and Venusberg Music
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1929 - Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps
Stravinsky's ballet Le Sacre du Printemps was first performed on May 29, 1913
at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris at a legendary concert conducted by
The famous scandal of the opening night was later described by Stravinsky:
"...at the performance, from the beginning, mild protests against the music
could be heard. Then, when the curtain opened...the storm broke.
... I was unprepared for the explosion... I left the hall in a rage... I have
never again been that angry." 15
The full score of Le Sacre was not published until 1921, primarily due to the
intervening war years, and there were consequently few performances prior to this
1921 publication. However, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra soon
after performed what seems to have been the US premiere of Le Sacre at a concert
on March 3, 1922. Abraham Chasins in his excellent Stokowski biography
Leopold Stokowski - A Profile 11, states that Pierre Monteux gave
not only the world premiere in 1913, but the U.S. Premiere.
Other sources also cite this information, but the earliest Monteux performance of
Le Sacre du Printemps which I have located was by the Boston Symphony in
Boston and then New York City in a concert series during the last week of January,
1924. This is an perhaps interesting, although certainly a minor debate, which
may be resolved by further primary research.
Stokowski's Score of Le Sacre du Printemps
After his 1922 performance, Stokowski next presented Le Sacre du Printemps in 1929,
when he performed the work during the Philadelphia Orchestra's first radio
broadcast on Sunday afternoon, November 3, 1929 6. Stokowski
and the Philadelphians also performed the work in a famous staged version the following
spring in April, 1930.
Before the 1929-1930 performances, on September 25 and 25, 1929 in the Academy of Music,
they recorded Le Sacre du Printemps with another side re-recorded during
their next recording session on March 12, 1930, a total of eight 78 RPM sides.
Again, this was not the first recording of Le Sacre du Printemps, since Monteux
had been first. Monteux made a Gramophone Company recording (with significant
cuts from the score) in Paris with the Grand Orchestre Symphonique earlier
in 1929 on Gramophone W 1016, W 1017, W 1018, and W 1019.
Listening to this pioneering Stokowski recording, we can sense the difficulty of this
music for the musicians. Although this work is now part of the core repertoire
of any of the world's symphony orchestras, it was then beyond the normal repertorie
and performing tradition, even for musicians of the caliber of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
This difficulty was not only in the performance, with complex rhythms and note
combinations, but likely also in the challenge for both musicians and audiences to find
empathy with music so foreign to the repertoire of the era.
Yet this pioneering performance and recording is excellent, both in the dynamic
range of the recording and in the performance. However, there are over-modulated
sections on these matrices, and good pressings are difficult to find. This is in
spite of the fact that this recording remained in the Victor catalog until about
In particular in this recording, listen to the beautiful opening bassoon solo by
Walter Guetter jointed the Orchestra briefly in early in 1915,
being only age 19. He then went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as
Principal bassoon, and subsequently returned to Philadelphia in 1922
as Principal bassoon at age 27. Click on the link that follows to
read more about
the career of Walter Guetter in the page describing the
Principal musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra in this
This fine recording was issued by Victor on four 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal
disks: Victor 7227, 7228, 7229, 7230 in Musical Masterpiece album M-74.
Matrices were CVE 37471, CVE 37472, CVE 37473, CVE 47975, CVE 47976, CVE 47977,
CVE 47978, CVE 47979. In Europe, it was issued on HMV D 1919, D 1920,
D 1921 and D 1922.
Click the links below to listen to (or download) this beautiful 1929 recording,
organized according to the two parts of Le Sacre, as labeled by Stravinsky:
Part I - Adoration of the Earth, and Part II - The Sacrifice.
Click here to listen to (or download) Le Sacre du Printemps Part 1 - Adoration of the Earth
Click here to listen to (or download) Le Sacre du Printemps Part 2 - The Sacrifice
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1929 - Saint-Saëns - Carnival des animaux (Carnival of the Animals)
On September 26 and 27, 1929, Stokowski recorded the Camille Saint-Saëns
Carnival des animaux (Carnival of the Animals).