Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra were active introducing the
musical public to this great work across the United States via
concerts and radio, and via radio to Canada. They performed
the Suite from The Firebird throughout the 1920s and 1930s:
- Philadelphia: December 30-31, 1921
- Philadelphia: February 1-2, 1924
- Philadelphia: February 16, 1924 excerpts in a lecture concert
- Philadelphia: March 8-9, 1924
- Philadelphia: October 17-18, 1924
- Philadelphia: November 20-21, 1925
- Philadelphia: December 11-12, 1925
- Pittsburgh: February 22, 1926
- Philadelphia: April 5-6, 1929
- Philadelphia: October 3-4, 1930
- Philadelphia: November 4-5, 1932
- Philadelphia: March 9, 1933 Youth concert with excerpts
- Philadelphia: November 2,3,6, 1934
- Baltimore: November 7, 1934
- Philadelphia: October 10, 1935 Youth concert with full Suite
- Philadelphia: October 11, 12, 1935
- Birmingham, Alabama: April 22, 1936
- Dallas: April 24, 1936
- San Francisco: May 2, 1936
- Ann Arbor, Michigan: May 16, 1936
- Philadelphia: March 24-25, 1939
In this 1935 recording of the Firebird Suite, Stokowski continued his
practice of making an important change to the finale. To those
familiar with the Firebird, this change might seem startling, if they
are not forewarned. As well as his usual minor cuts
changes, Stokowski has made an extensive cut in the finale of the last
movement of the Suite. This was the same cut made by Stokowski
in the 1924 acoustic performance. Such cuts in any score
recorded during the acoustic era were the norm because of the 4 minute time
limit of the 78 RPM side, and also the difficulty of recording
acoustically. However, this same cut of than one minute in the
Finale was also made in 1927, and in this 1935 recording, where time
seems not to have been a factor.
This cut became Stokowski's practice during his career.
As well as 1924, 1927, and 1935, Stokowski made this same cut in his
the November, 1940 recording with the All-American Youth Orchestra
and also with the NBC Symphony Orchestra recording of April, 1942.
The musical effect of this change to the conclusion of this remarkable
work is notable. Apparently, Stokowski felt that the somewhat
repetitive nature of the build-up to the finale was better
omitted. Yet others, presumably including Stravinsky, believed
that this progression adds to the cumulative impact of this
Stravinsky was vocal in his resistance to the changes to his work in
performance, and he likely did not condone this one, either,
although I have seen no record of any specific comment by him.
Stravinsky was usually careful to avoid any actions which might
reduce his royalties (well earned) on his compositions !
In this recording, there is beautiful playing by Walter Guetter, bassoon
in this Suite from the Firebird.
Stokowski's 1935 recording of the Suite from the Firebird was released
by Victor on three 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disks Victor Victor 8926,
8927 and 8928 a (with the Shostakovich Prelude opus 34 no 14 in e flat minor
as orchestrated by Stokowski on side 8928 b). Matrices
were: CS 92865-2, CS 92866-4, CS 92868-3, CS 92869-3 (later CS 92869-2A),
and CS 92870-5. The Jeu des Princesses and
Danse Infernale split matrix CS 92868-3.
Stokowski at this
time was in the habit of recording and releasing one take of a recording
session, if he was happy with the playing of a familiar work. The
continued difficulty of Stravinsky's Firebird in this era, even for a
group such as the Philadelphia Orchestra is indicated by the high number
of 'takes' necessary before Stokowski was satisfied with the result.
Click here to listen to (download) the Firebird - part 1 Introduction,
Danse De L'Oiseau De Feu, Jeu des Princesses
Click here to listen to (download) the Firebird - part 2
Danse Infernale, Berceuse, Finale
1935 - Works by Philadelphia Composer Harl McDonald
a promotional record of Harl McDonald's Rhumba Symphony given to
members of the Music Teachers National Association by RCA Victor
On November 25, 1935, Leopold Stokowski recorded two works by Harl McDonald,
composer and Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.
Harl McDonald was born in Boulder, Colorado on July 27, 1899.
He joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1927,
and later became Director of the Music Department, as well as conductor
of several University of Pennsylvania music groups. Harl McDonald
in the 1930s and 1940s became Manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra, working
closely with Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy. He was also elected
to the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association.
He died in Princeton, New Jersey at the University's McCarter Theater on
March 30, 1955. McDonald was filming a movie on orchestral music
and as he rose for a close-up, he collapsed of a heart attack.
Harl McDonald was not yet 55 years old.
The excerpts which Stokowski selected were Rhumba, the scherzo movement of
McDonald's Symphony no. 2 of 1934, and the Dance of the Workers from
his Symphony no #4 - Festival of the Workers of 1937.
Harl McDonald in about 1935. photo:
University of Pennsylvania Archives
These works were recorded on two sides of a 12 inch (30 cm) Victor Red Seal
disk 8919 A and B. Several matrices were recorded that afternoon:
CS 94619-1 or 94619-1A or 94619-2 or 94619-2A for the Rhumba work, and
matrices CS 94620-1 or 94620-1A for the Festival of the Workers.
Somewhat surprisingly, these recordings were issued at the height of the
Great Depression not only in the US, but also in the UK under HMV DB 2913.
(awaiting better source for the McDonald works)
1935 - Handel - Chandos Anthem no 2 in d minor
'In the Lord put I my trust' HWV 247 - Sonata
On December 16, 1935, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra returned for their second recording
session back in the Academy of Music. This recording was of Stokowski's arrangement of the
first movement, Sonata, from Handel Chandos Anthem no 2 in d minor 'In the Lord put I my trust',
HWV 247. The need for Stokowski's arrangement of this sublime music may be open to question,
since Handel wrote this music for a full instrumental group, if not the size of the Philadelphia
Orchestra. The original score indicates and orchestra of strings, plus oboe, bassoon and
two recorders (or perhaps equivalent winds). The result is a full and
satisfying sound in Handel's original orchestration. Stokowski's arrangement features
a larger string section, including violas, and a heavier sound. In the link below, listen
to half a minute of this beautiful work by Handel played as we would hear it in
concert today, compared with the same section in the Stokowski arrangement.
(note: the Stokowski has been re-pitched to be closer to the tuning of the modern
Click here to listen to (download) part of the Chandos Anthem no 2, modern versus
This 1935 recording benefits from the sound and atmosphere of the full
Philadelphia orchestra returned to their home in the Academy of Music.
This recording was issued in 1936 on two sides of a Victor 10 inch (25 cm)
Red Seal recording Victor 1798, matrices BS 94621-1, BS 94622-1. In
Europe, it was issued on HMV DA 1556.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1935 Sonata from Chandos Anthem no 2 in d minor
1935 - Wagner - Tristan & Isolde - Acts 2 and 3 with
On December 16, 1935 and the following December 30, Stokowski recorded
a new, extended arrangement (sometimes call a 'Symphonic Synthesis', but
not apparently not called that by Stokowski) of the 'Liebesnacht' music
from Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde. As we have seen in the
1932 section, Stokowski recorded in April, 1932 excerpts from Tristan
und Isolde Act 1, concluding with the Love Music (Liebesnacht) from
Act 2. In this 1935 recording of his symphonic arrangement,
Stokowski expands the music from Acts 2 and 3, and concludes the
arrangement with a transition from the Act 3 music back to the
concluding finale of Act 2 in which Tristan is killed by King
In this arrangement, Stokowski has given the singing of the two protagonists
to the orchestra. The celloes play Tristan's music and violins play Isolde's
music, with the interplay retained.
It seems that critics and the public were upset that Stokowski had
changed the conclusion of this musical arrangement, or synthesis, from
a conclusion with their favorite music of the Act 3 Liebestod
aria. Instead, in Stokowski's initial version, he
concluded with the Act 2 finale. In light of this criticism,
in April, 1939, Stokowski re-recorded this section, substiting the
Liebestod music as an ending. The mp3 musical links below are
of the December, 1935 recording, with the Act 2 finale as an ending.
You can hear the 1939 Liebestod conclusion by
going to the 1939-1940 page
of this stokowski.org site. Note that the mp3 music file of the link,
below is some 23 minutes long. It seemed important to have maintained
this music as one, continuous musical experience, and for this reason,
it is very large (21 MB), so may take a long time to download,
depending of the speed of your internet link.
This recording of the Tristan und Isolde music of Acts 2, 3 with 'Liebesnacht'
and Finale to Act 2 was released on six sides of Victor Red Seal 12 inch (30 cm)
disks 15203 B, 15204, 15205, 15206 A. The other side of 15206 was left
blank during 1930s, and later, 'Adoramus te' added filler as 15206 B in about
1946. These were in Victor Musical Masterpiece album in M-508. In
Europe, this music was issued on 3 HMV 30 cm disks, HMV DB 3087, DB 3088,
and DB 3089. Matrices were CS 94624-2, CS 94625-1, CS 94626-1, CS 94627-1,
CS 94628-1, and CS 94629-2.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1935 Stokowski arrangement of Act
2 and 3 music of Tristan & Isolde
1935 - Franck - Symphony in D
The Gramophone in their September, 1937 review of this recording found it more
episodic, rather than continuous in performance:
"...There are some grand key-moves in the recapitulation, on
side 4. When Stokowski keeps the ball rolling, he
does it magnificently but there are too many pot-holes in his
sentiment. I rarely feel his work as one whole-all-through
Click here to listen to (download) the 1927 Franck D minor Symphony - Mvmt 1