1934 was the most active recording year for Stokowski and the
Philadelphia Orchestra since the intensive recording program
of 1927, shown by the impressive results. There
were at least 33 works recorded in that year, of which 32
were released (the Heifetz - Stokowski Sibelius Violin Concerto
not being released until 2000). The recording sessions
were balanced about equally between the March to April 1934
Spring recording sessions, and the Autumn series of recording
sessions in October to December of 1934. As described in
the www.stokowski.org page
1931 Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings
for economic reasons, Victor had moved all the recording sessions
of this period back to Victor's Camden Church Studio, across the
Delaware River from Philadelphia.
The Camden Church Studio
The 1934 Spring Recording Sessions
The recording sessions of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
in the Spring of 1934 took place during three intensive days:
March 17, April 7, both Saturdays prior to the Saturday evening
subscription concert and on Monday, April 30, 1934. Preparing
for these recording sessions, the concerts of
January to April 1934 were in part also made up
of the works recorded in March and April, 1934. These
included in the concerts of January 19, 20, 1934 Stokowski's
"Synthesis" of Act 3 of Wagner's Parsifal
and in the concert of March 22, 1934, the Brahms
Hungarian Dance no 1. Stokowski and the Philadelphians
also recorded the Russian Sailor's Dance from
Reinhold Glière's ballet The Red Poppy, which they had
performed in concert January 11, 1934. Stokowski
performed Glière's Symphony Ilya Murometz in New York
City on March 20, 1934, but did not record the Symphony until
1940 - Reinhold Glière - Symphony no 3 in b minor Ilya Mourometz
Also, on April 27 and 28, 1934 Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra performed the Beethoven Symphony no 9, to be recorded in
Camden the following Monday April 30, 1934.
Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra began their
1934 recording program on March 17, 1934.
The works recorded on that Saturday morning included works by
Anatoly Liadov (1855-1914), Maurice Ravel (1855-1914),
Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) and Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).
Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra's first
recording of 1934 was of the Eight
Russian Songs, opus 58 composed in 1906 by Anatoly Liadov
(1855-1914). The music is arranged by Stokowski, but
surprisingly, does not make use of the full symphony orchestra
for most of these eight short works. These pieces reinforce
the view of critics of Liadov who say that he had a facility and
invention in composing, but that he lacked application, and in
fact, did not work particularly hard as a composer. Liadov
did not in fact complete any large-scale works. Recall that
Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had recorded a Liadov
work as one of his last acoustic recordings on December 8, 1924:
the 'Dance of the Amazons', composed in about
1910 or 1911. Liadov's lack of application had the
beneficial result that the ballet which Sergei Diaghilev
commissioned in 1909 from Liadov for his Ballets Russes,
never completed, was instead given to a young Igor Stravinsky,
who produced the Firebird ballet.
The Eight Russian Songs, opus 58 as arranged by Stokowski were
issued one 12 inch (30 cm) Victor Red Seal record 8491 and one
10 inch Red Seal record, 1681. In Europe, the recording was
issued on or HMV disks DA 1415 and DB 2443. The matrices were
CS 82121-1, CS 82122-1, BS 82123-1, and BS 82124-1.
The titles of each of the songs are given in the mp3 links below.
These 1934 readings are fine recordings, and I have added
slight acoustic reverberation to partially compensate for the dead
acoustics of the recording location, the Victor Camden Church Studio
Maurice Ravel - 'Rapsodie espagnole' 1934 Recording
Maurice Ravel wrote the 'Rapsodie espagnole' originally for piano four hands
in 1907, and orchestrated it in 1908. It consists of four
sections: Prélude à la nuit, Malagueña, Habanera,
This was Ravel's first major work for orchestra, written when he was
34 years old. The March 15, 1908 premier was given by Édouard Colonne
in one of his Paris Concerts Colonne concerts. It is interesting that
Maurice Ravel was a very active 59 year old composer at the time of
Maurice Ravel in 1912
The Philadelphia Orchestra, reduced to 70 musicians recorded the work
in the Camden Church Studio number 2 on March 17, 1934.
What gorgeous playing from this orchestra at the height of its
virtuosity! Listen to the solos by Marcel Tabuteau, oboe
and to the strings.
This recording was released on Victor Red
Seal 12 inch (30 cm) disks Victor 8282 and 8283, matrices
CS 82125, CS 82126, CS 82127, and CS 82128. In Europe this was release by
the Gramophone Company on HMV DB 2367 and DB 2368, matrices 2A-62125,
2A-62126, 2A-62127, 2A-62128.
In the mp3 music files in the links below, the sides are
reorganized onto 'Part 1' including Prélude à la nuit
and Malagueña and 'Part 2' concludes with
Habanera and Feria.
1934 Glière - Russian Sailor's Dance from "
The Red Poppy"
Recorded March 17, 1934 in the Camden Church Studio no 2. This performance
was released as Victor 1675, matrix BS 82129 Victor 1675
1934 Brahms Hungarian Dance no 1 in g minor
In May, 1920, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra
had made a successful early
acoustic recording of the Brahms Hungarian Dance no 1 in g minor
. Nearly 14 years later,
during the March 17, 1934 session, they again recorded the
Hungarian Dance no 1. The Brahms followed the recordings
described above of the Lyadov Eight Russian Folk
Songs, the Ravel Rapsodie espagnole, and Glière's
Russian Sailor's Dance from the
'Red Poppy' - a full recording day.
This 1934 performance has a interpretive characteristics in common with
the 1920 recording. The opening theme is played more slowly than
perhaps any other conductor would have tried, contrasted with the
following section which is played at dazzlingly fast speed. In
fact, for me, this performance represents a caricature of a willful
manipulation of the music, in a way that Stokowski's critics claimed,
falsely, that he applied generally in his performances. A far
better representation of a similar, but far better interpretation is in
the 1975 London recording with the pick-up 'National Philharmonic
Orchestra' at the twilight of Stokowski's career.
This Hungarian Dance no 1 was issued as Victor 1675, matrix BS 82134-1.
On April 7, 1934 in the Camden Church Studio no 2, Stokowski recorded a
brilliant-sounding recording of Richard Strauss 'Tod und Verklärung' -
'Death and Transfiguration' opus 24
(1889). This recording was issued in Victor in 1934.
Seven years later, in July, 1941, Stokowski recorded
'Tod und Verklärung' again, this time with the All-American Youth
Orchestra, in a similar interpretation, but with somewhat inferior
Stokowski performed 'Tod und Verklärung' many times, including at a pair of concerts
January 7 and 8, 1910 during his first season 1909-1910 as conductor of the Cincinnati
Orchestra, when the work was only 21 years old ('Tod und Verklärung' having been completed
in 1889 and premiered in Germany June 21, 1890). Stokowski also performed 'Tod und
Verklärung' during his first 1912-1913 season as the newly appointed conductor of the
The Gramophone in its June 1936 review of this recording admired both
the performance and the tone of the orchestra:
":...the Philadelphia affords a high enrichment of the tone,
in the delicacy of its wood-wind choir (which, I think, after hearing
it several times at first ear, has never been quite fully conveyed
by any record), and in the weight and glow of its bass tone..."
Leopold Stokowski with Richard Strauss in Philadelphia, 1921
The program of this work can be appreciated from the poem which Strauss's friend
Alexander Ritter (1833-1896) wrote as an interpretation of Death and Transfiguration
after it had been composed. The four episodes of the work depicting the
death and transfiguration of the artist can be summarized as:
- Memories of childhood and the sick artist nearing death
- The struggle between life and death
- The dying man sees his life pass before him and then dies
- The transfiguration of the artist
Victor originally recorded 'Tod und Verklärung' on seven sides, using matrix numbers
CS 82169-1A, CS 82170-1, CS 82171-1, CS 82172-1, CS 82173-1, CS 82174-1, CS 82175-1.
However, since the last two sides were short, Victor later dubbed CS 82174-1 and
CS 82175-1 onto one side, matrix CS 86194-1A, which is how the set is usually found.
The recording was issued on three 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disks Victor 8292, 8293, and
8294 in album M-217, or in Europe on HMV DB 2324, DB 2325 and DB 2326.
Click on the link below to listen to one of the finer recordings to come
out of the Camden Church Studio among Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra's records there between 1930 and 1936. The mp3 file is of the
unbroken performance, since the composer intended that should be listened to
without break. However, this means, also that the mp3 file is large
(27 megabytes), so the download may be lengthy, depending on the
speed of your internet connection. Enjoy!
Click here to listen to (download) the 1934 Strauss 'Tod und Verklärung'
Immediately after recording the Straus 'Tod und Verklärung', on April 7, 1934,
Stokowski recording his 'Symphonic Synthesis' of Act 3 of Wagner's Parsifal.
Act 3 of Parsifal opens at the Castle of Monsalvat, home of the Grail. Leader
of the Grail Knights, Gurnemanz, finds Kundry, who, half awake tells him to 'serve'.
Parsifal then returns from his journeys with the holy spear, and recounts to Gurnemanz
Parsifal's long and fruitless wanderings, seeking to return to the Grail. Gurnemanz
tells Parsifal that the curse preventing him from finding the correct way is lifted,
that Titurel is now dead, and today is Titurel’s funeral. It is the music at this
point near the end of Act 3, Scene 1 with which Stokowski begins his 'Symphonic
Synthesis'.  Kundry and Gurnemanz recognize Parsifal as the King
of the Knights of the Grail, and prepare Parsifal for his great duty regarding the
Grail. Parsifal observes the beauty of the day, and Gurnemanz tells Parsifal that
today is Good Friday. Parsifal baptizes the weeping Kundry, and with bells tolling,
Kundry, Gurnemanz, and Parsifal depart for Monsalvat. The beautiful 'Good Friday
Music' from the end of Act 3, Scene 1, Stokowski does not include in his Symphonic
Synthesis, since he will record this music separately.
Parsifal Act 3, Scene 1 - Bayreuth Production
In Act 3, Scene 2, the Castle of Monsalvat, Amfortas is led before the Grail
shrine and the coffin of Titurel. Amfortas cries out to his father Titurel to
give him rest from suffering. The Knights
urge Amfortas to reveal the Grail, but he says never again will he do so, instead urging
the Knights to slay him for the disgrace he has brought to the Knights. Parsifal
steps forth and states that only the holy spear will heal Amfortas. Parsifal
touches Amfortas's side with the spear, and Amfortas is immediately healed.
Parsifal then commands that the Grail be revealed, and immediately,
Kundry is also released from her curse, and she falls
lifeless. A white dove hovers over Parsifal's head as the opera is
This is a beautiful performance, and although the orchestra was reduced,
this is not so apparent in the resulting records. I have added a slight
amount of ambience to this recording, seeking to
compensate for the dry acoustics of the Camden Church Studio no 2.
This recording was issued on two Victor
12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disks, 8617 and 8618, matrices CS 82176, CS 82177,
CS 82178, CS 82179. In Europe, HMV issued the recording on DB 2272
and DB 2273.
April, 1934 - Three Bach Orchestrations by Stokowski
On Saturday morning April 7, 1934, Stokowski and the Philadelphians
recorded four Stokowski orchestrations of Bach keyboard works.
These were included in Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-243
commemorating the 250th anniversary of the
birth of Johann Sebastian Bach that was to have occurred in 1935.
- 'Great Fugue' from the Prelude and Fugue in g minor BWV 542
This transcription, about 6 minutes long is, to my ears, an effective
evocation of the original organ work, the Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in g minor BWV 542.
This work, called the "Great Fugue" would have been played often my Stokowski
during his time as an organist.
- From the 'Well-Tempered Clavier' Book 1 - the Fugue from the Prelude and Fugue no
2 in c minor BWV 847
- the Sarabande from the English Suite no 3 in g minor BWV 808
1934 - Two Traditional Church Melodies - 'Veni, creator spiritus' and "Veni Emanuel'
Also on April 7, 1934 in the Camden Church Studio, with 70 Philadelphia
musicians, Stokowski recorded his arrangement of two traditional melodies
Stokowski must have rehearsed and performed as a church choir master:
'Veni, creator spiritus' and "Veni Emanuel'. Stokowski's love of
these two church melodies shines through his arrangement and orchestration
of the music. Although this music was recorded in the Camden Church
Studio no 2, a larger orchestra of 70 musicians were employed.
This recording was issued on a Victor 10 inch (25 cm) Red Seal disk 1789, and
in Europe on HMV DA 1551. The matrix numbers BS 82167 and BS 82168.
On Monday, April 30, 1934, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra returned to the Camden Church Studio no 2 to record the mighty
Beethoven Symphony no 9, the 'Choral Symphony'. Stokowski was not
then, nor later, regarded as one of the leading Beethoven interpreters, such as were
his contemporaries Wilhelm Furtwängler or Arturo Toscanini, in their different ways.
However, in spite of the economic depression, reaching its peak at this time,
Victor agreed to record this symphony which would be issued in Victor Musical Masterpiece
album M-236, containing nine disks (think of the weight as well as the cost).
This 1934 performance was the first U.S. recording of the Beethoven Symphony
no 9. However, there were previous European recordings, such as
the Felix Weingartner 1926 London Symphony Orchestra recording for
(British) Columbia Graphophone. There were also two acoustic
performances in 1923, one by Bruno Seidler-Winkler on Polydor/DGG on 14 sides,
and the other by Albert Coates for HMV on 16 sides. Not having listened to
either of these, I cannot imagine the acoustic recording process being able to capture
anything close to the large forces and musical complexity called for by Beethoven's
score of the this symphony !
The 1934 Stokowski Beethoven Symphony no 9 was disadvantaged by several
factors. First, the soloists, soprano Agnes Davis, contralto Ruth Cathcart,
tenor Robert Betts and baritone Eugene Loewenthal, were all singers who had
worked before with Stokowski. However, none of them had an independent singing
career of any distinction. Perhaps more of a disadvantage in
this recording is what seems to be a poorly trained amateur chorus. Also, the
recording took place in the acoustically dead Camden Church Studio, and only about
70 musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra were used.
In addition, the performance itself is variable. It shows
qualities in certain passages, such as in most of
the second movement, marked 'Scherzo - Molto vivace'. In this second
movement, Stokowski gives the music a steady pulse, along with a level
of élan. However, elsewhere, including
in the third and fourth movements, things are less satisfactory.
The third movement, 'Adagio molto e cantabile' is not cantabile, but rather
slow and ponderous. In the fourth movement, which calls for a most exalted and
inspired reading, this recording seems to me disappointing and uninspired. That
Stokowski was later able to deliver a thrilling performance is shown by his 1967
Decca/London recording with Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Alexander Young, Donald
McIntyre and the London Symphony Orchestra. This 1967 performance is a transformation
from the 1934 interpretation,
with the Adagio molto e cantabile third movement showing great beauty and inspiration.
In fact, it is to this third movement of the 1967 Stokowski recording to which
Edward Greenfield, famous critic in the Gramophone gives particular praise:
"...The slow movement is what more than anything puts the seal on the greatness
of this performance. When I played it first I had just done a detailed comparison
of half a dozen Ninths, and the one which it resembled most closely, at least in
its rapt opening pages, was the Klemperer. Like Klemperer, Stokowski brings out the
purity, the nobility of the first theme with no exaggeration, and even though - as
in the first Adagio variation - Stokowski temporarily adopts a more flexible style,
the result completely belies any idea of the conductor as a sentimentalist."
Incidentally, the mating of the sides in this 1934 recording is
complicated by Victor's practice in a few of the 1930s recordings,
including this one, of repeating or overlapping music from the ending
of one side with the same bit of music beginning the next side.
This 1934 Beethoven Symphony no 9 covered 17 sides with the following matrix numbers: CS
82185-1, CS 82186-1, CS 82187-1, CS 82188-1, CS 82189-1, CS 82190-1, CS 82191-1,
CS 82592-1, CS 82593-1, CS 82594-1, CS 82595-1, CS 82596-1, CS 82597-1, CS 82598-1,
CS 82599-1, CS 83100-1 and CS 83101-1, all first takes, so essentially a 'live'
recording. The nine Victor 12 inch Red Seal disks in album M-236 were numbered
8424, 8425, 8426, 8427, 8428, 8429, 8430, 8431, 8432, a massive set! The
eighteenth side of this album contained a Stokowski orchestration of
Bach: the song 'Komm, süsser Tod' BWV 478 in the U.S. Victor album, and the Adagio from the
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in c major BWV 564 in the British HMV album.
When you click on the links below to listent to (i.e. to download) the mp3 files,
please keep in mind that these are large files. Movement 4, some 25 minutes
long is nearly 30 megabytes in size. This means that, depending on your internet
connection speed, the download could take several minutes.
Monday, April 30, 1934 must have been a busy day for Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Following the recording of the Beethoven Symphony no 9, they recorded Stokowski's 'Symphonic Synthesis'
of Wagner's Die Walküre, and the Chaconne from Bach's Violin Partita no 2, as described below.
The Symphonic Synthesis' of Wagner's Die Walküre was another of Stokowski's arrangements of music
selected from a Wagner opera, intended to give a continuous musical flow, primarily of the
orchestral music of the portions favored by Stokowski.
The first side of this synthesis begins with an orchestral introduction leading up to Act 2 Scene
4, called the 'Death Prediction' or 'Todesverkundigung' scene. In this scene, Sieglinde
tells Siegmund she feels unworthy of him, and apprehensive about his upcoming fight with
Hunding. Siegmund reassures Sieglinde and she falls asleep. Brünnhilde then
predicts death for Siegmund if he fights Hunding. Siegmund tells Brünnhilde he would
choose to kill himself and Sieglinde, rather than fall to Hunding. Brünnhilde, moved
by Siegmund's love for Sieglinde, which he prefers to immortality
in Valhalla, fatefully decides to aid Siegmund against Hunding, against
Score - beginning of the 'Death Prediction' scene Die Walküre Act 2 Scene 4
In the 1934 Stokowski recording, this music ends somewhat abruptly, and then leads
directly into the famous 'Ride of the Valkyries' music from the beginning of
Act 3. This music acts as a prelude to Act 3 and introduction to the scene
in which the Valkyries are preparing to fly the heroes to Valhalla on their magic
horses. This is followed by the confrontation between Wotan and Brünnhilde,
whom he accuses of defying him. Wotan banishes Brünnhilde from Valhalla, and
takes away her immortality, and will place her in a deep sleep upon a rock.
Brünnhilde defends her actions as being Wotan's true will, and pleads with Wotan
to at least assure that only a hero will awaken and claim her. Wotan relents.
This music of the 'Ride of the Valkyries', and Brünnhilde's plea is included in
Part 2 of the Walküre synthesis, below.
Stokowski's Synthesis next transitions to the conclusion of Act 3 (and conclusion
of Die Walküre), in which Wotan kisses Brünnhilde, putting her into a deep
sleep. Wotan then summons Loge, the fire god, to surround Brünnhilde with
a ring of magic fire, so that only a hero, without fear, may dare to awaken the
mortal Brünnhilde from her sleep high on the rock. Wotan then departs, and
the opera concludes with the beautiful and dramatic music included in Part 3, below.
'Ring of Magic Fire' by artist N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945)
This 1934 recording of music from Die Walküre, in spite of being recorded in the
acoustically dead Camden Church Studio number 1 is beautiful and atmospheric.
The Gramophone in its 1935 review praised this performance:
"...It will easily be imagined that the Phily's tonal beauties are
bountifully expended upon this great work. I do not recall finer brass
piano tone, for instance, than side 1 provides. In the themes of this
work lies deep and natural feeling, such as Wagner never surpassed.
His gods and goddesses, thus considered, are not abstractions or prosy
creatures, as is sometimes alleged, but the epitome of all our humanity.
The Ride is rightly proportioned so that it sounds impressive, but is
not noisy; it is music raised above normal stature, without coming into
the range of mere monstrosity. Where the orchestra is fully loosed,
the tone is the more significant because there is a sense of proportion
throughout. We hear the voice of Wotan, a little too wrapped up in
certain typical and obscuring bass vowel-shapings; but Tibbett gets
the size of the character, and of the emotion..."
This 'Symphonic Synthesis' of Die Walküre was issued in 1934 in Victor Musical
Masterpiece Album M-248. It contained four Victor 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal
disks 8542, 8543, 8544, 8545. In Europe, this recording was issued on
HMV disks DB 2470, DB 2471, DB 2472, DB 2473. The matrices were CS 83102-1,
CS 83103-1, CS 83104-1, CS 83105-1, CS 83106-1, CS 83107-1, CS 83108-1,
and CS 83109-1.
Click here to listen to (download) Part 1 - the 'Death Prediction' music of 1934 Die Walküre
1934 - Chaconne from Bach Violin Partita no 2 in d
minor BWV 1004
Another extended Bach orchestration by Stokowski of music from the Baroque
era was recorded at this April 30, 1934 session. This was from the Bach
Violin Partita no 2 in d minor BWV 1004, the famous Chaconne movement,
which Stokowski orchestrated for full symphony orchestra. The
result is an extended work (more than 18 minutes in the Stokowski
version) occupying 5 78 RPM sides: Victor matrices CS 83110-1, CS
83111-1, CS 83112-1, CS 83113-1, CS 831114-1.
This recording was issued, along with the Bach orchestrations listed
above, in the Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-243
commemorating the 250th anniversary of the birth of
Johann Sebastian Bach. Also included in this album of Stokowski
Bach orchestrations were: the
Chorale Prelude 'Nun komm der Heiden Heiland' BWV 599, the Sarabande from the
English Suite No 3 in g minor BWV 808, 'Komm, süsser Tod' BWV 478, the
Siciliano movement from the Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord no 4 in c
minor BWV 1017, the Adagio from the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major
BWV 564, and the Prelude in b minor from the Prelude and Fugue BWV 869, number
24 from the 'Well-Tempered Clavier'.
Although this orchestration is relatively delicately done, Stokowski
performs it with his practice or emphasizing the echoes of the
contrapuntal voices, and a romantic speeding up and slowing down of the
music, rather than the steady musical pulse that seems to suit the music
better. Also, as
with other Bach orchestrations, he takes the music in several places to
a crescendo of swollen (in my opinion) orchestral Technicolor blazing
sound (for example, at 15:15 to 16:45 as well as at 8:40 and at 14:20).
All this is not a characteristic of the subtle beauty of what Bach
originally wrote. However, the playing of the Philadelphia Orchestra is gorgeous, and gives
the orchestration every chance of success.
This Bach recording was the final work of 14 different pieces recorded by Stokowski in the
Camden Church Studio during March and April, 1934. 1934 was such an active recording
year for Stokowski and the Philadelphians that the 18 further recordings they made in
October, November and December, 1934 are covered on a separate page of this www.stokowski.org
website. Please click on the link below to read about and listen to these further 1934
Click here to go to More Recordings of 1934 by Stokowski