1930 Recordings by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
In 1930, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded much
less music than during the three previous
rich years of 1927, 1928, and 1929. Perhaps this was due
to Victor caution, following the great stock market
crash of the previous October, 1929. In any case, there
were only four days of recording during the year 1930: on March 15, and
following the final concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra
1929-1930 season, on April 28, 29 and 30, 1930.
From these sessions, thirteen 78 RPM sides were issued. As an
indication of the direction of Stokowski's interests at that period,
it is remarkable that 7 of these 13 sides were of
Stokowski orchestrations. Five sides of Baroque music,
and two sides of Debussy piano music. The other
two recordings were of works Stokowski and the Orchestra
had performed during this 1929-1930
season: Sibelius Finlandia, and the Tchaikovsky
Stokowski Changes Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians
1930 also was a year in which Stokowski decided to make a number of
changes of musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra. The records
do not definitively show whom Stokowski dismissed, except
in a few cases. However, the March 3, 1930 issue of Time
Magazine was explicit regarding some cases:
"Conductor Leopold Stokowski of the Philadelphia Orchestra
was censured by many last week for ousting nine of his players.
Four: Clarinetist Paul Alemann, Horn-player Otto Henneberg,
Violinist Marius Thor, Oboeist Edward Raho - had been with the
orchestra from 18 to 26 years. Probable reason for their
dismissal: too old, stale." 3
As well as these four, Daniel Bonade, Principal clarinet,
Vincent Fanelli, Principal harp, Gardell Simons, Principal
trombone, Fabien Koussewitzky, double bass
and nephew of Serge Koussevitzky who later adopted the stage
name of Fabian Sevitzky as a conductor, Max Pollikoff,
violin, Herman Weinberg, violin, Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola,
Milton Prinz, cello, and Joseph Wolfe, English horn departed
during 1930 - some (or perhaps all) dismissed by Stokowski.
To replace Gardell Simons as Principal trombone, Stokowski hired
Simone Belgiorno who was trombone instructor at the Curtis
Institute and who had been Principal trombone at the Cincinnati
Symphony, at the Metropolitan Opera, Boston Symphony Assistant
Principal trombone, and Cleveland Orchestra Principal trombone.
However, according to Philadelphia Orchestra trombonist
Harold McKinney, Simone Belgiorno "only lasted
14 weeks with Stokowski...", so did not finish the
At the same time, Stokowski hired a number of Curtis Institute students
directly into the Philadelphia Orchestra even before they had
graduated. These included Melvin Headman - fourth trumpet,
Robert McGinnis - Clarinet, and Robert Bloom - English horn, who
entered the Philadelphia Orchestra directly from the Curtis Institute
in 1930, although they 'officially' graduated in the Curtis Class of
Stokowski Produces Music Drama and Ballet
Stokowski at this time also wanted to find means to expand into
ballet and opera. He planned, raised funds, and pushed
ahead against opposition from the Board of the Philadelphia
Orchestra and some of his supporters to mount productions of
Schoenberg's music drama Die glückliche Hand opus 18,
and a full ballet production of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du
Printemps, with Martha Graham dancing the Sacrificial
Maiden. The three performances of these two
works in Philadelphia and in New York City, partially sponsored
by the League of Composers in April, 1930 sold out, justifying
Stokowski's gamble that they would succeed 4.
Financially, they were less successful, with the cost and also
the uncompromising line Stokowski took with the Philadelphia
Orchestra Board in the confrontation as to these productions
leaving hard feelings that were to grow during the
first half of the 1930s.
1930 Recording Sessions
The first session of 1930 was on Saturday, March 15, 1930.
At this session, Stokowski continued recording his
orchestrations, or more accurately, his re-arrangements,
for large symphony orchestra of Baroque music which he had
initiated during 1927 and 1929.
These were arrangements of music by Handel and Bach.
1930 - Pastoral Symphony from Handel's Messiah
The March 15, 1930 recording session began with a recording of
Stokowski's orchestration and re-arrangement of the Pastoral
Symphony from Handel's Messiah.
The 'Pastoral Symphony' from Scene 3 of the Messiah has
been one of the most popular 'bonbons' (as Sir Thomas
Beecham would say) from any of Handel's works. It
has been arranged for what seems to be nearly any
combination of instrumentals. I have seen offers
for sheet music for the Pastoral Symphony arranged for
saxophone trio, for clarinet trio, accordion, trumpet and
horn, among many others.
Messiah may be Handel's greatest work, and certainly
his most performed. The first performance in the
Music Hall in Dublin on
the April 13, 1742 was reported to be a total
success. This may have contributed to Handel's
increasing composition of Oratorios, rather than his
previous work producing Italian-style operas.
The Pastoral Symphony
occurs at the beginning of Scene 3 of the Messiah
which describes Christ's birth. The nativity
of the Messiah is told through the annunciation by
the angels to the shepherds. Stokowski would
have performed this music numerous times with church
chorus, both in London and in New York, prior to his
1930 - Chorale Prelude Aus der Tiefe rufe ich
Also on March 15, 1930 in the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Stokowski
recorded another of his orchestrations of a Chorale Prelude. This
was Aus der Tiefe rufe ich ('Out of the depths I cry to Thee,
O Lord'), BWV 745. In fact, most scholars now believe this work
was not composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. There is speculation that
Bach's son Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach arranged this chorale prelude based on
his father's Cantata 131, BWV 131 using the same musical theme.
For me, this Bach-Stokowski orchestration is not as varied nor as
interesting as the original work for organ, since it does not fully
include the varied contrapuntal interplay and contrasts of the
original, but only the straight theme and variations. This, taken
with its length of 6 1/2 minutes, contrasted with a typical performance
on pipe organ of 4 minutes means that it may overstay its welcome
to some ears.  However, the performance never becomes overblown
nor lapses into superficial sentimentality. Rollin
Smith states that this Stokowski orchestration for oboe and
four flutes with strings was first performed by Stokowski and
the Philadelphia Orchestra on March 15, 1924 2,
exactly six years to the day prior to this recording.
This Bach orchestration was released on one Victor Red Seal 12
inch disk 7553 (in Britain on an HMV 12 inch disk DB 1789),
matrices CVE 47971-3A, CVE 47972-3. This was Stokowski's
only recording of this orchestration of BWV 745, and his
score does not seem to have been published.
Click here to listen to (download) the Chorale Prelude 'Aus der Tiefe rufe ich'
1930 - Sibelius Finlandia, opus 26 of 1899
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28, 29 and 30, 1930, following
the final concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1929-1930 season,
Stokowski and the Orchestra returned to the Academy of Music for
more recordings. Recall that the historic Wall Street
stock market crash had just occurred at
the beginning of this season, in late October, 1929.
The first work they recorded on April 28, 1930 was a dramatic performance
of the Sibelius symphonic poem 'Finlandia'. This work was written
in 1899 and revised in 1900, and was still a work considered modern and
'difficult'. However, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had
it regularly for the previous 15 years. Also recall that Stokowski
and the Philadelphians had made a pioneering
acoustic recording of Finlandia
in April, 1921
Sibelius circa 1896
The sound of this 1930 recording is fine, although the second side
of this Victor disk 7412, matrix CVE 56835-2A has some slight
overload distortion on all copies I have heard.
This does not seem to be an impediment to the enjoyment of the
work, especially in the restoration by the audio mastering and
restoration expert, Marcos Abreu, offered in the link below.
Marcos Abreu's restoration seems to me excellent, transparent and subtle.
He has added a very slight amount of ambiance to the recording, which
adds some needed 'air', yet retains the original sound.
You can contact him at Marcos Abreu - Audio mastering and restoration
services, email address:
Thanks Marcos !
Beyond the sound, this performance is electric with excitement.
The Gramophone Magazine appreciated this performance in wrote: '...There
is a fine flare in this Finlandia; fire and weight too, and dignity,
not surpassed in warmth by anything I know...' 1. A
slight negative is a cut from bars 191 to 214 that Stokowski makes
at the end of the work. This is a cut of about 15 seconds of music
at of the finale, which consists of a drum-roll, followed by repeated
chords. This eliminated music, as written by Sibelius, normally
follows the last notes of the music we hear in the Stokowski
recording. Stokowski does not seem to have explained
his reasons for this cut, but presumably he felt this ending was
repetitive and superfluous to what is still a dramatic ending.
This April, 1930 recording was issued on a Victor 12 inch (30 cm)
Red Seal record number 7412 (or in Europe on HMV DB 1584), matrices
CVE 56834-2A and CVE 56835-2A, issued in 1930.
Tchaikovsky's 1812 Festival Overture in E flat major, opus
49 (to give it it's full title) was composed in 1880.
Today, this work is a staple of the concert hall, and a famous
piece to show off the quality of someone's Hi Fi system and
speakers. However, in 1930, this work was not so frequently
recorded, even if often performed.
Stokowski's 1930 recording as a performance is dramatic and
well-played. However, the recording, although done by
Victor in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, is of a surprisingly
'in your face' acoustic sound. It also seems that the microphones
must have been placed unusually close to the orchestra.
Stokowski gave constant attention to and was actively involved in
the recording process, which helped him have recordings consistently
superior in sound to most of his contemporaries. However,
this is not an example of superior sound, and we can only conjecture
if Stokowski was experimenting with a closer, more direct microphone
placement or perhaps that the Victor engineers were not those who had produced
the amazingly open and effective recordings of 1926-1929. Since
Stokowski was so much 'hands on' during recordings, I would speculate
that Stokowski may have been seeking more impact from this dramatic
music. The bass from this recording is surprisingly 'boomy'
considering its venue in the Academy of Music.
I have attempted to compensate for this very close
microphone placement with equalization and with added acoustical
In spite of the miking, this is an effective and
exciting recording, with many examples of virtuoso playing.
Listen, for example to Marcel Tabuteau's georgeous oboe solo
during the first minute. Also, the beautiful Philadelphia
Orchestra string sound of this orchestra at the height of its
form. A nuanced and exciting performance.
Again, here, Stokowski cuts several bars of music from the conclusion
of the Overture, presumably because he found them repetitive, or
perhaps bombastic. In any case, for those familiar with this
work, the sudden ending may come as a mild surprise.
Another interesting effect at the ending is that Stokowski
does not have the tubular bells damp their chimes at the
end, but allows them to reverberate for several seconds.
Perhaps he liked this effect, suggesting a cathedral celebration.
In any case this seems to me a nice effect.
This recording was issued in 1930 on two Victor 12 inch (30 cm)
Red Seal disks 7499, 7500 (or in Europe, HMV DB 1663, DB 1664)
matrices CVE 56836-2A, CVE 56837-2A, CVE 56838-2A, CVE 56839-3A.
(note that this is a large file - about 18 megabytes)
1930 - Debussy - La Cathédrale Engloutie (The Engulfed
Between 1909 - 1913, Debussy wrote his first book of Préludes for piano,
which are today considered as perhaps the most successful
music that is referred to as 'impressionist' - a term rejected by
Debussy. The mood and atmosphere of these 12 works of the
first book provide a vivid impression of each of the
subjects selected by Debussy. Consider simply
the titles he employed, such as 'Les sons et
les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' ('Sounds and
perfumes turn in the evening air') to appreciate that these
musical evocations intend to communicate a sensual impression.
The tenth of the twelve Préludes of the first book is entitled
La Cathédrale Engloutie ('The Engulfed Cathedral'),
and marked by Debussy
'Profondément calme'. This
orchestration by Stokowski and the 1930 performance
certainly fulfills that instruction. Note also
the delicate bassoon solo
mellow trumpet solo by
in this recording made on April 30, 1930.
The recording of 'La Cathédrale Engloutie' was issued on a
12 inch (30 cm) Victor Red Seal disk 7454, matrices
CVE 56842-2 and CVE 56843-3 in Victor album M-116. In
this same album were the September 27, 1928, May 2, 1929 recording
of Debussy's Nocturne - 'Nuages', and the April 4, 1931 recording
of Debussy's 'Danses sacrée et profane' with Edna Phillips, harp,
and the Mignon Gavotte of May 4, 1929.
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.