Audience reception

Stokowski and his audience

The conductor Leopold Stokowski had a love hate relationship with his audience:

He wooed them and cajoled them, flattered them and then gently reproved them.  When they grew fidgety, he shamed them into attentiveness and concentration.  “Please don’t do that,” he once admonished an audience of program shufflers.  “We work hard all week to give you this music.  Now you must do your part.  I’m here to give you my best.  If you don’t want it, then I’ll give you nothing.”

This was one of his many set speeches, memorized and repeated almost verbatim, time and time again before new audiences that displayed anything less than worshipful attention.  Later, when his programming grew more adventuresome and the audience grew liberated enough to hiss, Stokowski was cunning and hedged, saying, “That’s all right! If you feel strongly enough and need to express your feelings, that’s good! What is bad is to sit and feel nothing!”

Chasins, Abram (1979) Leopold Stokowski: A Profile.  London: Robert Hale, p.35.

By Greg

Australian composer and pianist