Further Material about Leopold Stokowski and His Recorded Legacy

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Stokowski - Philadelphia acoustic recordings 1917-1924

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Stokowski - Philadelphia electrical recordings 1925-1940 click on the date below

1925 First Electrical Recording

1925 other electricals

1926

1927 - part 1

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1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934 - part 1

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1935

1936

1937

no recordings 1938

1939-1940

Listings of the Musicians of some Famous Orchestras: Click on the link below

Boston Symphony Principal Musicians
Boston Symphony List All Musicians
Chicago Symphony Principal Musicians
Chicago Symphony List All Musicians
Cleveland Orchestra Principal Musicians
Cleveland Orchestra List All Musicians
Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Musicians
Philadelphia Orchestra List All Musicians
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Musicians
Saint Louis Symphony Musicians
San Francisco Symphony Principal Musicians
San Francisco Symphony List All Musicians

Further Material about Leopold Stokowski

 

Leopold Stokowski in about 1929 - sketch by Oscar Berger

 

Further Information about Stokowski and about the Philadelphia Orchestra

 

This Leopold Stokowski site is devoted to the legacy of Leopold Stokowski, his legacy of recordings, including with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  However, in this section, added material about both Stokowski from a broader period is included.

 

Leopold Stokowski and British Music

 

Recently added to this www.stokowski.org site is an insightful essay by musical scholar and Stokowski expert Edward Johnson.  This is an appreciation of Leopold Stokowski and British Music.  Leopold Stokowski's extensive and varied performance of music from this source is analyzed.  Click here to visit Leopold Stokowski and British Music.

 

Victor Talking Machine Company and RCA Victor Record Sales by Year

 

Allen Sutton at his wonderful Mainspring Press web site provides a history of the Victor Talking Machine Company and RCA Victor record sales by year from October, 1901 through 1941.  Link is http://www.mainspringpress.com/victorsales.html.  This information comes from discovery evidence during litigation of 1943 of the Radio Corporation of American versus Decca Records and Columbia Records.

 

These data cover sales of all Victor Talking Machine disk, both Red Seal and Black Seal, as well as the other speciality labels.

 

Several sales trends seem particularly noteworthy:

 

- The constant growth of record sales during the 1910s demonstrates how the Victor Talking Machine Company grew from a "start-up" (to use today's high-tech term) to a rich cash-generating corporation.  This resembles the boom in technology companies fifty years later, long before Silicon Valley.

 

- Already by 1916, Victor was enjoying sales of a level similar to the (economically) "roaring twenties"

 

- the growth of radio broadcasting 1921-1925 flattened the growth rate of phonograph record sales which was only partially recovered with the introduction of electrical recordings of the gramophone in 1925-1926.

 

- The size of the impact of the Great Depression is clear in the collapse of Victor sales during most of the 1930s.  It is fortunate for Victor that it had a rich parent: the Radio Corporation of America which was profitable during this period and could partially shield Victor from the economic downturn.

 

- The effect of World War 2 in re-invigorating employment and economic activity is particularly clear in the case of gramophone record sales - a product that could be forsaken, if necessary when economic times were tough.

 

Year

Number of records sold

Year

Number of records sold

1903

1,966,036

1923

40,542,480

1904

2,595,011

1924

32,822,873

1905

3,565,679

1925

25,171,604

1906

7,051,775

1926

31,873,620

1907

7,686,709

1927

37,625,429

1908

5,248,147

1928

37,764,906

1909

4,639,463

1929

34,493,447

1910

5,988,004

1930

17,710,520

1911

6,205,929

1931

7,093,917

1912

9,150,374

1932

3,119,049

1913

11,086,489

1933

3,635,713

1914

13,564,985

1934

4,439,235

1915

18,649,029

1935

4,751,219

1916

25,963,272

1936

7,676,526

1917

27,751,354

1937

10,494,610

1918

21,547,047

1938

13,205,366

1919

30,851,527

1939

24,248,789

1920

33,426,575

1940

35,558,487

1921

54,920,855

1941

56,268,433

1922

37,162,717

 

 

 

Allen Sutton and the Mainspring Press publish many of the best discographies of early recording by company available from any source.  Have a look at the bibliography list at Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Bibliography, Sources and Credits and also of course at the Mainspring Press web site http://www.mainspringpress.com

 

Stokowski and Soloists

 

It is striking that during the period of Stokowski's recordings from 1917 to 1940 he recorded almost no works with instrumental soloist.  Paul Robinson in his Stokowski biography said "...the combination of a drive to dominate and a skill capable of achieving domination helps to account for his success." 1This commentary might be considered to be characteristic of nearly all of the successful great conductors.  Those great conductors who may have had less drive to control and dominate seem to have suffered as a result.  Dimitri Mitropoulos comes to mind.

 

However, Robinson also speaks of Stokowski's life-long preference for self-sufficiency.  In Robinson's view, Stokowski tried systematically to avoid dependency on others, whether orchestral boards, wives, agents, or friends 2.  This observation may seem too harsh or perhaps too categorical, but is reflected in the biographies (such as Oliver Daniel) and reminiscences (such as Abram Chasins) about this great conductor.  So, at the risk of simplistic characterization, might this quest for control and self-sufficiency extend to an avoidance of sharing the interpretation and performance of great works with the leading soloists?

 

Consider the many concerti that would seem logically to have been at the core of a Stokowski - Philadelphia repertoire.   The two Brahms Piano Concerti, the Brahms Violin Concerto, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, just to name a few.  These would likely also be among the favorite concerti of the Philadelphia audience. The Tchaikovsky was in fact a featured work for Stokowski's very first concert as a conductor, with the Paris Colonne Orchestra, May 12, 1909, with his wife Olga Samaroff as piano soloist.  The Tchaikovsky concerto was also part of the first Philadelphia Orchestra concert of November 16, 1900 8. None of these did he record with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Further, looking at Enno Riekena's excellent Stokowski Discography of Stokowski's recordings, we see that Stokowski did not record the Brahms and Tchaikovsky piano concerti commercially.  There exist a non-commercial release of a live recording of each of these from the 1960s.  And the Brahms Violin Concerto seems not to exist in any recording.  This is striking, given that these concerti would seem to be in the heart of the repertoire favored by Stokowski.  Judging by the number of his performances and recording, Brahms and Tchaikovsky would seem to be among his favored composers.  Yet the concerti, which are among the most popular with the public are not a feature of his performances or recordings over his sixty year career.

 

The examples of recordings of concerted works with soloist which are exceptions to this pattern of seeming to avoid concerti are each interesting. 

 

First is the series of wonderful and famous recordings of Rachmaninoff concerted piano works: the 1924 recording and the 1929 recording of the Second Piano Concerto and the 1934 recording of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  These are recordings not only with a soloist, but with the composer, who also was also one of the great pianists of the twentieth century.  It would seem that Stokowski could feel open to share the interpretation with the composer of the work.

       Rachmaninoff in the 1920s

 

Rachmaninoff and Stokowski Disagree on Interpretation

 

However, even in the case of Rachmaninoff, Stokowski sometimes resisted the composers suggestions regarding performance.  They had disagreements about the 1924 recording of the Second Piano concerto.  Also, in 1930, Time Magazine reported:

 

" ... In the 18 years he has been in Philadelphia, Stokowski has stayed just that - young, energetic, pliable. There have been changes in the man himself ... From a simple, naive person he has changed to one who is autocratic, imperiously sure of his countless opinions on acoustics, lighting, radio, printing, painting, the habit of applause. At a recent rehearsal he and Pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff almost came to blows over the tempo of a Rachmaninoff concerto concerning which Stokowski felt he knew better than the composer. Indicative, too, is the feeling of his men, changed now from one of adoration to respect ... Stokowski has permitted himself to develop prima donna tendencies but the public at large continues to encourage them ... ". 3

 

Listening to the 1929 performance, I would speculate, without any source, that Stokowski was more inclined to savor the opulence of the music, while Rachmaninoff inclined to a more rapid pace.  Although this Time Magazine account may well be exaggerated, it does reflect that even with Rachmaninoff as soloist, Stokowski may have felt that he "knew best".  (click here to read about and listen to the 1929 Stokowski - Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no 2.)  In fact, during his career, Stokowski, whenever a composer might be present during his rehearsals, and perhaps suggest a change, Stokowski would say "oh! the composer is here and wants a change; let him conduct!".  Stokowski would then hand the baton to the flustered composer.

 

Heifetz and Stokowski Disagree on Interpretation

 

Another famous concerto soloist example is the Christmas eve December 24, 1934 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Jascha Heifetz.  This recording, although a fiery performance by both Heifetz and Stokowski, was never released commercially until a single copy (Heifetz's copy) was restored in the 1999 Philadelphia Orchestra, The Centennial Collection CD release, overseen by Mark Obert-Thorn, with musical restoration by Ward Marston. 

 

In his program notes to this recording, Barrymore Laurence Scherer said "...According to Ward Marston, who learned of this from a member of the Orchestra who played in the session, Heifetz at one point asked Stokowski to have the violins play more softly in a particular passage in order to lend greater definition to the solo line.  Stokowski - who loved manipulating the knops of a recording console almost as much as conducting itself - felt this request an intrusion upon his prerogative to balance the sound.  Therefore, in a gesture rather foreign to the Christmas spirit, he addressed the Orchestra saying 'Everyone else, play louder.  Violins, you stay the same.'  Understandably, Heifetz was not amused, and he subsequently refused to approve the finished recording for release." 4   Is this a further example of Stokowski's desire to control without regard even to so eminent a colleague?

Jascha Heifetz in a well known 1935 Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph

 

A third example of a concerted work recorded by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra is the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante recording of 1940.  Of course, this recording was by the first chair soloists of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  It also broke Stokowski's twenty year haiatis of a recording of a work by Mozart (following Stokowski's May 9, 1919 acoustic recording of the third movement Minuetto of Mozart's Symphony no 40 K550).

 

Beyond few recordins with instrumental soloists, there were many recordings with vocal soloists.  However, looking at the soloists Stokowski used, such as Agnes Davis, Ruth Cathcart, Robert Betts, and Eugene Loewenthal in the Beethoven Ninth, or Jeanette Vreeland, Rose Bampton, Paul Althouse, Robert Bette, and Abrasha Robofsky in the case of Gerre-Lieder, these were not famous, independent singers.  It was a practice of Stokowski to personally coach the singer in advance, as did other conductors.  Rose Bampton was at that time a Curtis Institute student that Stokowski included in several recordings.  Also listen to the interview with Jennie Tourel in Interviews of Leopold Stokowski as to her work with Stokowski.  In such cases, perhaps the vocal soloist was more in the category of the first chair instrumentalists in the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante under Stokowski's direction, rather than a strong, independent artist such as Heifetz, seeking to share the interpretive decisions with Stokowski.

 

In any case, the results of Stokowski's quest to control of all the diverse elements of a recorded performance, including the orchestra seating, and even the recording techniques employed must be a key ingredient in the hundreds of great recorded performances of the "fabulous Philadelphians".  Also, without this single minded determination, it may be unlikely that Stokowski would have personally succeeded as he did, nor perhaps could he have molded the Philadelphia Orchestra into the leading orchestra it became under his direction.

      Leopold Stokowski in a Studio publicity portrait

 

Musicians of Leading United States Symphony Orchestras

 

Since there seems to be a surprising lack of information on the musicians of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and of the many other leading symphony orchestras of the United States, I have started, out of my own interest to try to compile information on the major orchestras.  Below are links to the initial web pages of this stokowski.org website covering each orchestra. 

 

Listings of Other Orchestra Musicians: Click on the link below

Boston Symphony Principal Musicians
Boston Symphony List All Musicians
Chicago Symphony Principal Musicians
Chicago Symphony List All Musicians
Cleveland Orchestra Principal Musicians
Cleveland Orchestra List All Musicians
Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Musicians
Philadelphia Orchestra List All Musicians
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Musicians
Saint Louis Symphony Musicians
San Francisco Symphony Principal Musicians
San Francisco Symphony List All Musicians

 

 

 

 

 

 


Other Pages of Interest:

 

Camden Church Studio - Victor Talking Machine Recording Location

 

Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recording in the Academy of Music Philadelphia

 

Interviews with Leopold Stokowski

 

Leopold Stokowski Biography

 

Leopold Stokowski Orchestrations

 

Leopold Stokowski, Harvey Fletcher and the Bell Laboratories Experimental Recordings

 

Masters of the Modern Restoration of Historic Disks

 

Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Chronological Discography

 

Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra with Biographical Remarks

 

Further Material on Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra

 

CDs of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra

 

 

 

Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Bibliography, Sources and Credits


 

1  page 5.  Robinson, Paul Stokowski, with Discography by Bruce Surtees. Macdonald and Jane's. London 1977 ISBN 0-354-04232-7

 

2  pages 4 - 7.  Robinson, Paul op. cit.

 

3  Spring Rite Time Magazine Monday, Apr. 28, 1930

 

4   Notes: Instrumentalists. Scherer, Barrymore Laurence.  Program Notes to The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Centennial Collection.  Philadelphia Orchestra Association.  Philadelphia, 1999.

 

5   Appendix I. Ardoin, John, editor. The Philadelphia Orchestra, A Century of Music. Temple University Press. Philadelphia. 1999

 

6   page 395.  Heiles, Anne Mischakoff.  America's Concertmasters.  Harmonie Park Press.  Sterling Heights, MI. 2007.  ISBN-13 978-0-89990-139-8

 

7   page 6.  Champouillon, David.  International Trumpet Guild Journal.  May 1999. 

 

8.   page 234.  Wister, Frances Anne.  Twenty-five years of the Philadelphia orchestra (1900-25)Edward Stern & Co, Philadelphia 1925 


If you have any comments or questions about this Leopold Stokowski site, please e-mail me (Larry Huffman) at e-mail address: leopold.stokowski@gmail.com 


 

 

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Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Chronological Acoustic Discography

Stokowski, Dr. Harvey Fletcher and Experimental Recordings of Bell Laboratories

1936 Recordings

Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Chronological Electrical Discography

Further Material about Leopold Stokowski

1937 Recordings

Fritz Reiner Discography

Camden Church Studio and other Victor Talking Machine Recording Locations

( No Recordings in 1938 )

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Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Bibliography, Sources and Credits

1939 - 1940 Recordings

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L'Héritage de Stokowski - Accueil français

Victor Talking Machine Company, Eldridge Johnson, et le développement de la technologie d'enregistrement acoustique

1917 - 1924 les enregistrements acoustique Victor de Leopold Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

1917 -  Premiers enregistrements acoustique de Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1917 - 1919 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1920 - 1921 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1922 - 1924 autres enregistrements acoustique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1919 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique Russe Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1920 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique français - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1921 -1924 enregistrements acoustique Tchaïkovski - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1921 - 1924 enregistrements acoustique Wagner - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1924 enregistrements acoustique Rachmaninov - Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

 

Développement de l'enregistrement électrique

Permis d'exploitation du système Westrex donné à Victor et Columbia

1925 Premier enregistrement électrique Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1925 autres enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1926 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1927 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

Encore des enregistrements 1927 électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1928 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1929 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1930 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1931 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1932 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1933 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1934 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

Encore des enregistrements 1934 électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1935 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1936 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1937 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

1939-1940 enregistrements électriques Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie

 

D'autres documents sur Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

Camden église studio - Victor Talking Machine studio d'enregistrement

Leopold Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie Enregistrement à l'Académie de musique de Philadelphie

Interviews avec Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Stokowski Orchestrations

Leopold Stokowski, Harvey Fletcher et les laboratoires Bell expérimental enregistrements

Maîtres de restauration moderne de disques historique

CDs de Stokowski et l'Orchestre de Philadelphie

Leopold Stokowski Discographies chronologique

      Leopold Stokowski Discographie chronologique - enregistrements acoustique

      Leopold Stokowski Discographie chronologique - enregistrements électriques

Leopold Stokowski - Orchestre de Philadelphie bibliographie, des sources et crédits

 

L'Orchestre symphonique de Boston - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de Chicago - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre de Cleveland - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre du Metropolitan Opera de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre philharmonique de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre de Philadelphie - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique Russe de New York - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de San Francisco - musiciens principaux

L'Orchestre symphonique de St. Louis - musiciens principaux