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Purpose of the arts

Music is the real life

In modern life electricity plays a great part.  Sometimes it is used destructively – sometimes creatively – but there is another power which is like electricity, only far more subtle and penetrating.  This power is all-pervading.  It is omnipresent.  If we understood this power we would know the secret of the magical influence of music.  […]

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Purpose of the arts

The influence of music

Conductor Leopold writes: There are millions who find solace in music – it opens for them the sun-bathed gates of inspiration – through music they know that behind the sordid, grim surface of life there nevertheless exists an ideal and external Beauty. Music powerfully stimulates the growth in us of impulses we had never suspected […]

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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 […]

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Performers

Stokowski as a sound engineer

The conductor Stokowski (who was the conductor of Disney’s Fantasia) was a pioneer of orchestral recording.  This was not without its problems: Stokowski was moving more and more toward what is recognized as his most significant achievement – the broadening of popular interest in serious music.  He developed a firm conviction that radio, recordings, and […]

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Performers and performances

Concentrate on the performance

Daniel Saidenberg ws the first cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.  He recalled: Stoki’s ability to exert disciplines was occasionally matched by a sense of humor.  After a concert at which I had played the Saint-Saëns A-minor Concerto, one of my buddies said, “Watch your step, Danny.  All through the second movement, […]

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Performers

A conductor’s hair style

In Halina Rodzinski’s book Our Two Lives she describes how on the very first day Artur Rodzinski came to assist Stokowski in 1929, his boss immediately restyled his hair without a part and combed straight back from the brow.  “That’s how a conductor should look,” said Stokowski, pointing Rodzinski at a mirror in his dressing […]

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Performers and performances

The silent bass clarinet

During a rehearsal of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony: Stokowski had inserted a gratuitous part for bass clarinet. “It so happens,” wrote O’Connell, “that the player of this instrument was a quite temperamental gentleman as well as a composer, and when he saw Stokowski’s addition to Schubert’s score, he was possessed by fury.”  When he expressed his […]

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Personalities of the musicians

Learn my name

Stokowski’s ability to inspire musicians was sometimes balanced by the ability to turn them off.  Saidenberg altered me to a remarkable violinist who quit the Philadelphia Orchestra and went on to become America’s greatest authority on constitutional law.  “Raoul Berger was a wonderful violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra.  One day at rehearsal, Stoki stopped the […]

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Personalities of the musicians

Stokowski’s rehearsal

Raoul Berger (who eventually had a fall out with the conductor Stokowski and left The Philahrmonic Orchestra) described Stokowski’s rehearsal process: In rehearsal Stoki was given to the methods of a marine drill-sergeant, brutal and insulting.  In those days he was accustomed to make sweeping changes every season, so that those who were dependent on […]

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Performers and performances

Stokowski’s orders

A letter from the conductor Leopold Stokowski to Sylvan Levin gives an insight into his sense of humour: Caro Maestro Illustre, Now that you have not a thing to do!!!!! Do you think you would have time to do me a favor and time the whole of Parsifal without cuts?  I suggest you do this […]