1928 Recordings of

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra




Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings of 1928


Stokowski Sepia

  Leopold Stokowski in the famous Edward Steichen portrait from 1928


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1928 Recordings of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra


As was noted in the pages of this web site for the year 1927, and particularly in 1927 Season - Stokowski takes leave of the Philadelphia Orchestra , Stokowski did not conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra at all for the 1927 - 1928 season, although he did record very extensively during the calendar year 1927.  1928 also was an intensive recording year for Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in a short period at year end.


Stokowski and his heiress wife Evangeline Brewster Johnson Stokowski toured Europe and Asia from November, 1927 until early September, 1928.


September 7, 1928 - Stokowski and Evangeline Arrive Back in New York


Leopold Stokowski arrived back in New York in September 1928 on the SS Orinoco from Southampton, England with Evangeline and Luba Stokowski (whom her father called "Lyuba").  Evangeline and Luba had boarded their ship at Boulogne, France, and Leopold joined them on board at the next port in Southampton.  Leopold and Evangeline had previously reunited with Lyuba in Switzerland where Luba had stayed while her parents toured Asia.  From Switzerland, the three went to Paris at the end of the Summer of 1928.  Stokowski at some point went on to London.


Stokowski Lubya

   Stokowski on board SS Orinoco arriving from Southampton with Luba 2


The ship record below, shows Leopold Stokowski return to New York on the SS Orinoco from Southampton, England with Evangeline and Luba on 7 September 1928, three weeks before the first concert of the 1928 - 1929 season on 4 October 1928.  Note that in the ship arrival information, Stokowski was still deducting 5 years from his age.


Stokowski record 1


You can hear (download) an interview where Stokowski speaks of his Asia travels including 1927-1928, recorded in about 1967 by clicking on Stokowski Speaks of his Asian Travel.


Stokowski's Limited Conducting of the 1928-1929 Philadelphia Season


Stokowski's conducting in the 1928-1929 concert season was greatly reduced.  He conducted only in October and November of 1928 and March and April of 1929.  These two spans were at the beginning and at the end of the 1928-1929 season. 


The remainder of the season was conducted by a series of guest conductors.  First was Stokowski's friend Ossip Gabrilowitsch, who was conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 1918 to 1936, and who conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra November 30, 1928 to January 26, 1929, including the Beethoven Ninth.  Then Bernardino Molinari, a champion of the music of Respighi and the conductor of the Augusteo Orchestra of Rome from 1912 to 1944 (and whom Toscanini heavily criticized) conducted the Philadelphians 1, 2 and 4 February 1929.  Then followed from 8 February to 2 March Sir Thomas Beecham, at that time working primarily with the London Symphony Orchestra.  Beecham and Gabrilowitsch also conducted the New York Philharmonic as guests in 1928 11.


After Beecham, from 8 March to 23 March 1929 concluding the 1928-1929 season, Clemens Krauss conducted.  Krauss was during that period Director of the Vienna State Opera.  Krauss in the next year, 1930, became Music Director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which is of course made up of Vienna State Opera musicians.  As head of the Vienna Philharmonic, Krauss replaced Wilhelm Furtwängler, who remained Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic. 8.  Following the 1928 Stokowski recording of the Brahms Symphony no 3 discussed below, Krauss made a fine recording of the Brahms in 1930 with the Vienna Philharmonic.


Krauss and Strauss

  Clemens Krauss, left with Richard Strauss probably late 1940s


Although the first 1928 concerts began on 4 October, in fact Stokowski initiated his 1928 recordings the week before, beginning with a recording of the Brahms Symphony no 3 on September 25,1928.


1928 - Brahms Symphony no 3 in F Major


The Brahms Symphony no 3 was a strong thread throughout Stokowski's career.  In fact the Brahms Third was included in his first season with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909 2.  The Brahms Third and First symphonies seemed to be a Stokowski standby whenever he needed to have a sure-fire success with any audience.


Following the glorious recording of the Brahms Symphony no 1 of April, 1927, much could be anticipated from this 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3.  It is a fine performance in many ways, but the speeding up and slowing down of this reading often exceed the practices of Willem Mengelberg.  Mengelberg was well known for a 'mannered' acceleration and breaking, not indicated in the score, and in the opinion of many, disrupting the flow of the music.  However, to my ears, compared with, for example the Mengelberg Symphony no 3 on Columbia Records, the Stokowski accelerating and breaking in some cases seem yet more arbitrary and not organic to the work.  This has the disadvantage of possibly distracting the listener from enjoying Brahms, and rather focus us on the "interpretation of Stokowski". 


Mengelberg Brahms3

  Mengelberg Brahms Symphony no 3 on Columbia 68103 D - 68106 D


The opening of the first movement is excellently paced, avoiding difficulties of a too heavy pace, or the pressing the music too hard.  The second andante movement at about 10 minutes seems (to me) somewhat protracted and lacking the pace with atmosphere of the Clemens Krauss.  However, this was the first electrical recording of this Brahms Symphony, and served very well to bring this music to the record listener.


At the end of movements 1 allegro con brio, 3 poco Allegro, and 4 allegro, Stokowski adds an extended diminuendo.  Stokowski also doubles the strings with other instruments an octave higher in certain parts.


Critical reaction to this Brahms Symphony no 3 recording over the years has in fact been along the lines of the comments above.  Also similarly critical has been the assessment of the sudden changes in tempo and the instrumental doubling of the 1958 Houston Symphony Orchestra performance 4.  Interestingly, the speeding up and down of this 1928 Brahms number 3 is similar to the Houston recording, so this is presumably Stokowski's considered view of how the music should go.


In any case, the orchestral playing continues to be in the very first class, as is the beauty of sound.  listen to (download) the work by clicking on the links below and decide for yourself!


Great thanks to Alan Tindall for the source material for this Brahms symphony. Thanks Alan!


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3 in F major Movement 1


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3 in F major Movement 2


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3 in F major Movement 3


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Brahms Symphony no 3 in F major Movement 4

1928 - Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture


Throughout his career, Tchaikovsky was one of the composers Stokowski most recorded.  In the Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra acoustic recordings of Tchaikovsky (see Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Tchaikovsky Acoustic Recordings), Stokowski had already recorded, acoustically, movements from Symphonies no 5 and no 6, the Song without Words and the Dance of the Flutes from the Nutcracker.  Stokowski had also attempted, unsuccessfully, the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, the Trepak, and Dance of the Flowers from the Nutcracker, as well as arrangements of two Liturgical Choruses, and the third movement of the Symphony no 4, all during the acoustic era5.


It is not surprising, then, that beginning with the introduction of the electrical recording process by Victor in 1925 and through the remainder of the decade, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the works of Tchaikovsky more than those of any other composer.


In September 1928 following his return from nearly one year traveling to Europe and Asia, Stokowski and the Philadelphians recorded the Overture-Fantasy Romeo and Juliet.  Stokowski had not attempted this score during the acoustic era, although it had been frequently performed by Stokowski since his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909.


This recording was issued on five Victor Red Seal sides, catalog numbers 6995, 6996, 6997, as part of Victor album M-46, with the Falla Spanish Dance no 1 from La Vida breve filling the sixth record side.  The matrix numbers were: CVE-46473-2, CVE 46474-2, CVE-46475-2, CVE-46476-2 and CVE-46477-1A.  A full orchestra of 104 musicians was used: 18 first violins, 18 second violins, 14 violas, 10 celli, 10 double basses, 4 flutes, 4 oboes, 3 bassoons, 4 clarinets, 1 contra-bassoon, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 6 horns, 1 tuba, 2 harps, 1 tympani, and 2 percussion.


This 1928 recording is exciting, beautiful and interesting.  However, there is one aspect of Stokowski's reading that would likely surprise a listener familiar with other performances of this work.  The score as usually performed has at the end four bars of dramatic, clashing chords, presumably marking the tragic conclusion of the story of Romeo and his beloved Juliet. 

Romeo Juliet

The final bars of the Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture as usually heard in concert.


Stokowski concludes his performance of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture with the fermata prior to the usual last 4 bars, cuts these last 4 bars and adds an additional, gentle chord an octave lower than the fermata chord, to make a revised ending.  The result is a soft and delicate culmination of the piece.  Since this is significantly different that the dramatic, crashing chords included in the 4 suppressed bars of Tchaikovsky's ending as usually performed, it may be somewhat startling to those familiar with other performances of this work.


The music scholar and Stokowski expert Edward Johnson provides a very good explanation of this decision by Stokowski.  Edward Johnson has pointed out that there is a basis in Tchaikovsky's original composition of the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy for Stokowski's quiet ending:


"...Tchaikovsky wrote three versions of this work (dated 1869, 1870 and 1880) and the original score is quite different to the other two....there are only two loud chords at the end of the first version: this was given its premiere recording by Geoffrey Simon and the LSO on Chandos. The second version, however, has never been recorded by anyone...the second version's coda ('Moderato assai')...contains music that doesn't appear in either of the other two versions...As to the 'quiet ending' adopted by Stokowski...Rosa Newmarch's book dated 1906 6 quite clearly states in a footnote that Tchaikovsky omitted those loud chords himself in his final version...What is true, however, is that Tchaikovsky's publisher had already engraved two editions of the work (the first one wasn't published until the 1940s when it appeared in the Complete Tchaikovsky Edition in Moscow) but evidently he wasn't going to publish yet another for the sake of one page right at the end. So we have no actual evidence of the change...What is clear is that Stokowski read that book and because there was no published 'quiet ending' he decided to provide one himself...it was that edition that he performed and recorded all through his career..." [Edward Johnson email April, 2012]


Romeo Juliet score

The final bars of the Tchaikovsky Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture in its first version - thanks to Edward Johnson.


So this exciting 1928 performance is well worth enjoying, even today not only for its bracing reading, but also as an example of the solution provided by Stokowski for this ending to the Overture-Fantasy. 


Click on the link below to listen to (download) Stokowski's 1928 recording of the Romeo & Juliet Overture-Fantasy by Tchaikovsky.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Romeo & Juliet Overture Fantasy by Tchaikovsky


You may also compare Stokowski's quiet ending to Romeo and Juliet with the ending from a performance by Willem Mengelberg, with his Concertgebouw Orchestra recorded just 18 months later in May, 1930 (British Columbia LX55 and LX56).  Mengelberg performs the ending familiar to most concert-goers.  Listen to the comparison by clicking the link below (Stokowski first, followed by Mengelberg.) 


Click here to listen to (download) the finale of the 1928 Stokowski Romeo & Juliet followed by the 1930 Mengelberg finale

1928 - Bach - Brandenburg Concerto no 2, BWV 1047


Also, upon Stokowski's return to the United States, on 27, 28 and 29 September 1928, in the Academy of Music, Stokowski and the orchestra made the first recording (as far as I can determine), whether acoustic or electric of the Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major of 1721, today one of Bach's most popular works.  Stokowski had performed several of the Brandenburg Concerti, including playing number 2 in 1920 and 1921 with Ernest Williams, then Principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


However, this Stokowski recording is somewhat strange, even for the period, and did not observe the Bach scholarship which was already building during the 1910s and 1920's.  Although we often consider "authentic" baroque performance practice to be a development of recent decades, Arnold Dolmetsch 7 and others were writing, speaking and performing early music using historic performance practices even prior to World War 1.  Artists such as Wanda Landowski and Arnold Dolmetsch were demonstrating the favorable results of a lighter and more stylish approach to this music.  Dolmetsch himself had recorded for the Gramophone Company in London in 1921 and had organized an early music festival by 1925.  Also, modern restorations and reproductions of baroque instruments were underway.


Of course, Stokowski was far from being alone in a heavier, full orchestra treatment of baroque music.  Most other conductors of this era tended to be slow and heavy.  The Furtwängler performance of the Brandenburg no 3 recorded two years later was also heavy, although the third movement Allegro of Furtwängler is reasonably light and rhythmic.  Furtwängler and Stokowski were either not aware, or chose not to follow such performance practices, nor to use the original, lighter instrumental scoring of Bach. 


For any listener familiar with this work in modern recordings, the differences in Stokowski's performance practices will be obvious from the first, with the heavier pace and variations of rhythm.  It is perhaps the variations of rhythm that take this Stokowski performance so far away from the steady rhythmic pulse of Bach - a solid rhythmic base that provides structure for the contrapuntal interplay of the score.  Stokowski also seems interested to stress echo effects in the music.


Further contributing to the heavier effect are added instruments.  The middle Andante movement of the Brandenburg 2 is scored for flute, oboe, violin, 'cello, and keyboard continuo, but this performance adds a full string section.


Also, the famous trumpet solo of the third movement (today used to introduce several TV programs, including Masterpiece Theater), usually so brilliant and bracing, is here scored down by an octave and slowed. 



Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2 opening of third movement as written by Bach


In Bach's time, this was played on a trumpet without valves, using what is called "clarino playing" for such high notes.  Today, this is somewhat easier to play on a valved trumpet, and is usually performed on a piccolo trumpet - sometimes referred to as a "Bach trumpet".


Although this trumpet part is difficult, it seems unlikely that this rescoring of trumpet solo down one octave was because the Philadelphia Orchestra musicians of the caliber of Saul Caston (who presumably plays here) were not capable capable of playing the high trumpet notes, or did not have access to a high B flat trumpet.  For example, Georges Mager, Principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony, and a contemporary of Sol Caston, played this music at the score's indicated pitch on a high B flat trumpet for Serge Koussevitzky 10.  A generation later in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Gilbert Johnson, Principal trumpet brought this brilliant solo writing to exciting life.  Johnson would use a Bach long-bell trumpet pitched in high B flat (the 'Piccolo Trumpet') in his 1958 Philadelphia performances. 


Just a few years later in 1935, the Adolf Busch Chamber Players would demonstrate that the high clarino playing and a light rhythmic pace for the Brandenburgs was alive and well in the 1930s.  Have a listen to the first minute of the third movement of the Brandenburg Concerto no 2 by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, followed by the same passage by the Busch Chamber Players.


Click here to listen to (download) the beginning of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2, mvmt 3 by Stokowski and by Adolf Busch


Stokowski performed the Brandenburg no 2 with the NBC Symphony in December, 1942, but I have not heard that performance.  The performance would likely have been by Principal trumpet Harry Glantz, since I don't believe Glantz entered the military.  Glantz had also been solo trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1915 - 1917, and of the New York Philharmonic from 1923 - 1942, and the NBC from 1942 - 1954.


In any case, this 1928 arrangement, plus the heavy pace of this performance may be disconcerting to today's listener. 


Another performance effect used by Stokowski in this work is an emphasis on an "echo" of a theme by different instruments.  This is reminiscent of the use of echo in church organ performances of Bach works with different organ choirs echoing themes.  Missing from Stokowski's performance is the clear presentation of the multiple voices of baroque counterpoint, and their interplay.  In the baroque concerto grosso style of the Brandenburg concerti, the solo instrument, in this case the trumpet, called the "concertino" interacts with the instrumental group, called the "ripieno", with each contrasting and answering the other group.


Also, as to scoring, Bach writes many clusters of sixteenth notes, which fire rapidly in the score and present a dazzling, yet transparent polyphony.  The slow Stokowski performance, however, reduces the effervescence of the bubbling sixteenth notes and the interplay of the counter-punctual writing.  As the musical excerpt above indicated, groups such as the Fritz Busch Chamber Players in their 1935 Brandenburg set on Columbia CAX 7640 - CAX 7643 could bring this sublime music to life.  However, in the orchestra hall for most symphony orchestras, it would take another half century for most orchestral performances to adopt the scholarship on baroque performance.


This recording was issued on 3 Victor 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal discs Victor 7087, 7088, and 7089 in Victor Musicial Masterpiece album M-59 which contained also the 1929 recording of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor and Stokowski's 1929 transcription of the Chorale Prelude "Wir glauben all an einen Gott".  This album was release on 29 November 1929.  In Europe, the Gramophone Company released this recording, coupled with the Chorale Prelude "Wir glauben all an einen Gott".


Please listen to (download) this interesting performance, and then decide for yourself as to the result.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2, mvmt 1


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2, mvmt 2


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2, mvmt 3

1928 - Albéniz - Iberia - Fête Dieu à Seville


Also on 27 September 1928, Stokowski recorded the Isaac Albéniz Fête Dieu à Seville from the Iberia suite, from the Book 1, the third piece, originally for piano.


The Iberia suite was nearly contemporary music at the time of this recording, having been composed by Albéniz as a suite for piano between 1905 and 1909.  In fact, Stokowski and the Philadelphia gave its US premier in 1926 9Fête Dieu à Seville, sometimes also called by its Spanish title El Corpus en Sevilla, evokes a Corpus Christi Day procession in Seville, during which celebration the body of Christ is carried through the city streets, accompanied by band music.



   Isaac Albéniz with his daughter Laura in 1905


Albéniz himself attempted to orchestrate several of the movements of Iberia, some of which were privately performed in Nice, but they were considered not a success.  Perhaps this was because Albéniz was suffering from a lingering illness.  Albéniz asked his friend, Enrique Fernández Arbos, a leading violinist and conductor of the Madrid Symphony Orchestra for nearly 35 years to complete the orchestration.  Arbós completed the orchestration of Fête Dieu à Seville in 1925.


Certain sources credit the orchestration on this recording as being by Arbós, but listening to the recording from the opening, it is clear that this is the Stokowski orchestration of the work.  The differences between Stokowski and Arbós are not great, but the choice of instruments is clearly different.


This performance fully benefits from the virtuoso qualities of the Philadelphia Orchestra at this time, and the sumptuous, integrated sound they produced.  The beautiful English horn solo is by Victor Leoncavallo.  The sound of this 1928 recording made in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia is as fine as any recording of the period, capturing the Philadelphia Orchestra at its heights.  This is both a joyous, and at times, a somewhat hair-raising performance.  This is a great Stokowski performance, which puts the music and the effects of the music first to the benefit of the result.  This recording still provides much excitement and pleasure today.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Albéniz 'Fête Dieu à Seville'

Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 in f minor


Another Tchaikovsky work recorded by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra soon after Stokowski's return for the Autumn 1928 season of the was Tchaikovsky's Symphony no 4 in f minor.  They recorded this symphony in the Academy of Music on 28 and 29 September 1928, with a make-up session on 8 December 1928.


This is an exciting performance, but with some surprising changes to the score, discussed further, below.


The recording is in general a good one, but difficult to restore.  The sound can easily become 'boomy' or bass-heavy.  It is difficult to retain the important foundation of the bass strings, while avoiding the muddy effect of some of the bass resonances.  As you will hear, the restoration provided in the links below, done by the audio mastering and restoration expert, Marcos Abreu, has overcome these difficulties. 


Also, Marcos, via his restoration magic, has provided a transparency usually missing in this recording.  The effect is something like cleaning away the accumulated dirt from the painting of an old master, and revealing its original beauty.  Marcos has also added a very slight amount of ambiance to the recording, which provides some needed 'air', yet retains the original sound.  You can contact him at Marcos Abreu - Audio mastering and restoration services, email address:  mastering@terra.com.br   We all thank you Marcos !


(note: these are large files to download, particularly the first movement - 19 megabytes.)


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 - movement 1


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 - movement 2


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 - movement 3


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 - movement 4


Tchaikovsky Sym 4


This recording was released in early 1929 in Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-48.  The album contained five 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disks Victor 6929, 6930, 6931, 6932 and 6933.  In Europe, the Gramophone Company issued them on HMV DB 1793, DB 1794, DB 1795, and DB 1796.  Matrices CVE 46486-4, CVE 46487-1A, CVE 46488-2, CVE 46489-2, CVE 46490-2, CVE 46491-2A, CVE 46492-1A, CVE 46493-1A, CVE 46494-3A, and CVE 46495-2A.


The author of this website claims certain prerogatives, including as a critic of these Stokowski performances.  There is something about the Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 that tends to bring out certain extremes in interpretation by Stokowski.  By 'extremes', I make reference to extensive alterations to the score in ways that seem to me to be arbitrary, as well as the mannered speeding up and slowing down, not linked to the musical flow.  The interpretation seems to spotlight Stokowski more than Tchaikovsky.  All the Stokowski performances of the Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 which I have heard, including a 1964 live performance with the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, were revised and manipulated to an extent that reduces enjoyment (at least for me). 


In fact, this 1928 performance is probably the most effective of his recordings in presenting a convincing recording of Stokowski's interpretation, while having perhaps less arbitrary changes.   The bazaar 1971 American Symphony Orchestra Symphony no 4 is probably the most extreme.  This recording is still available on Vanguard, so you can hear and judge for yourself.  Interestingly, this Vanguard recording was also one of Stokowski’s quadraphonic recordings made in the 1970s in the rich final years of his recording career.


In this 1928 recording, the Stokowski changes to this symphony begin at the beginning.  The notes of the first movement begin with a series of dominating calls in A flat from the horns and the bassoon, hammering home the initial theme.  In the download links of the restoration of this recording by Marcos Abreu above, listen to Anton Horner, horn and Walter Guetter, bassoon, playing this music, both at the acme of their musical careers.  This opening for the horns and bassoon is in triplets as written by Tchaikovsky, seemingly expressing some deep, personal theme.  Some have spoken of a theme of 'fate' or 'defiance'.

Tchaikovsky 4 score

Opening of the first movement of Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4 with horn and bassoon triplets.


Stokowski replaces the triplets with eighth notes, changing this dominating horn call into something less bracing and tending toward a heavy, awkward impression, or so it seems to me.  Later in this movement, this key opening theme in A flat is taken up by the trumpets, but Stokowski seems not to change the theme in a similar way when it is played by the trumpets.  Puzzling.


Listeners may have differences of opinion as to the result of these changes.  However, it would seem striking to many listeners that Stokowski would feel free to change what is perhaps one of the most personal and soulful expressions of anguish or of defiance or whatever is the feeling which Tchaikovsky was expressing in this opening.  Further, to do so in one of the most famous symphonic openings in the literature demonstrated Stokowski’s self-confidence (others would perhaps have a more negative label for this).


Listen to the first 30 seconds of this introduction played by Stokowski and the Philadelphians in 1928, compared with Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1936 and make your own judgment as to the relative merits.  (Stokowski first, followed by Koussevitzky.)


Click here to listen to (download) first 30 seconds Symphony no 4 Mvmt 1 by Stokowski and by Koussevitzky


There are other changes, particularly in the first, third and fourth movements.  However, beyond orchestration, Stokowski directs much speeding up and slowing down, particularly in the first and fourth movements.  The second movement, beginning with a beautiful oboe passage played by Marcel Tabuteau is somewhat less mannered.  The third movement Scherzo does not suffer from the speeding and slowing, since it is played pizzicato by the strings as marked.  Later, the brass enter staccato, and finally ending with quiet pizzicato strings, in a fleet performance. 


Willem Mengelberg was famous for his mannered accelerations and heavy breaking in his Tchaikovsky recordings, but Stokowski's seems (to me) often as arbitrary, with these changes not organic to the music.  Yevgeni Mravinsky delivered a number of exhilarating Tchaikovsky Symphony performances with his Leningrad Philharmonic, and Stokowski at times drives his players with equally rapid pacing in some parts of the fourth movement.  However, Stokowski will also apply the brakes to linger over a theme.


The cumulative effect of this, at least to my ears, is to take the listener away from enjoyment of the music, and rather focus our attention on Stokowski the interpreter.  However, you may well disagree - please listen to the recording on the links above and judge for yourself.  You can be sure of a stimulating performance, in any case.


As a point of comparison, by clicking on the link below, you can hear the last 1 1/2 minute of the fourth movement of this Tchaikovsky Symphony, first played by Stokowski in 1928 recording, followed immediately by Koussevitzky in 1936.  See if you also form conclusions similar to what I have described.  (Stokowski is first, followed by Koussevitzky.)


Click here to hear the Tchaikovsky Sym no 4 finale - Stokowski's 1928 recording and Koussevitzky's 1936 recording


1928 - Manuel de Falla La Vida Breve - Danse espagnole


At the end of an intensive series of recordings in September and December of 1928, on 8 December 1928 in the Academy of Music, Stokowski recorded the Danse espagnole from the Manuel de Falla opera La Vida Breve (or Life is Short) composed only 16 years previously, in 1912.  The Danse espagnole takes place in the wedding scene of this brief one hour opera, and is an orchestral show-piece. 


This 1928 recording was Stokowski's only recording of this music by de Falla, which is surprising, since its exotic beauty seems to be on Stokowski's wave-length.  Fortunately, this recording is of a joyous and free performance with and open sound.  The Spanish flavor is combined with the lush string sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  What a pleasure to listen to this stunning performance, also with good sound !


This recording was released 29 March 1929 as a filler side for the Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, recorded the previous September 1928.  This was included in Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-46, and the Falla music was on Side B of the Victor 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disc 6997, matrix CVE-47923-2 in that album.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 de Falla Danse espagnole from La Vida Breve


de Falla

Manuel de Falla 1876 - 1946



1928 - Tchaikovsky - Song Without Words in A minor (Stokowski transcription)


Stokowski's final recording of an intensive series of September and December 1928 was his transcription of the Tchaikovsky Chant sans paroles or Song Without Words in A minor opus 2 no 3 written in 1867, originally for piano.  Stokowski recorded this transcription several times later as late as 1972, with the London Symphony Orchestra.  The transcription and recording has a degree of sentimentality which Stokowski usually avoided in his transcriptions and performances. 


This work passes quickly, both in the 2 1/2 minutes of its performance, and in its slight musical content.  However, we can witness again in this recording the beauty and sheen of the strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Perhaps an appropriate work to end such an intensive period of recordings.


This 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal record Victor 7202 was included in Musical Masterpiece album M-71 and the automatic version AM-71 and was coupled with the 1929 Saint-Saëns Carnival des animaux.  The matrix number was CVE 47924-2A.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1928 Song Without Words


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  


Note on listening to the Stokowski recordings


The recordings in this site are files in mp3 format (128 mbps) encoded from my collection.  Links to the mp3 files are located in two places:


First - in the page covering the year of the recording.  For example, links to a 1926 recording are found in the page:   1926 - Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings


Second - in the Chronological Discography page.  For example, links to a 1926 recording are also found in the electrical recordings chronological discography page:  Chronological Discography of Electrical Recordings   This page lists all the electrical recordings from 1925 to 1940 made by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski and issued by Victor, including of course the 1926 recordings.


The mp3 files in this site are (usually) encoded at 128 mbps.  This means that the files are of different sizes, according to the length of the music.  For example, the second electrical recording, the April 29, 1925 Borodin ‘Polovetzki Dances’ is small (3.6MB).  In contrast, the 1929 Le Sacre du Printemps file is large.  Le Sacre du Printemps part 1 is 14MB and Le Sacre du Printemps part 2 is 16MB.


This means that a large file will take a longer time to download, depending on your internet connection speed.  Please keep this in mind when you click to listen to - download a particularly music file.  You may click the link to the music file, but need to wait a number of seconds or even minutes to listen to the file.


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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Rosters of Musicians of some Great Orchestras:



Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Acoustic Recordings 1917-1924:


Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Electrical Recordings 1925-1940:


Leopold Stokowski Recording Discographies and Listing of Concerts:


Other Information about Leopold Stokowski:


Leopold Stokowski and Development of Recording:


Fritz Reiner:



1 from New York Passenger Lists, Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957.  Immigration and Naturalization Service.
2  See Hunt, John. Leopold Stokowski. Discography. Concert register. Published by John Hunt. 1996. ISBN: 0-952827-5-9.
3  The following is from the Moberly (Missouri) Democrat newspaper of December 31, 1923.  "Hide Orchestra From Audience.  Philadelphia, Pa.  Dr. Leopold Stokowski, director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, predicts the day will soon arrive when concerts will be "given under cover." The orchestra in the future will be in a sunken stage, and the audience will hear the delicate strains pouring forth without being forced to watch drummer pounding, fiddlers scraping, and trombonists shooting in and out their slides, according to Dr. Stokowski. 'If all the other senses of the audience were inactive, I believe the hearing would be much more acute and the people would enjoy music and perceive its complexities much more keenly', the leader said. 'The way the arrangement could be made would be to have a sunken stage so that neither the musicians nor the conductor would be visible, and then just let the music flow out over the audience.'  "
4   For example, consider the interesting Victor Carr, Jr. review of the 1958 Houston Brahms Symphony no  3 performance Classics Today ( http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=8270) "...The Brahms Third is one of those Stokowski performances wherein the conductor seeks to "improve" the score by subjecting it to a number of alterations of his own devising. Thus, we hear high octave string doublings in the first movement, a dovetailed trio and clipped note values in the third, and sustained diminuendos at the conclusion of all four movements. Rather than enhancing Brahm's work, these tinkerings tend to draw attention to themselves, or more precisely, to the conductor, who already makes his presence undeniable through his extreme tempo shifts in the first movement (which the Houston Symphony pulls off without a sweat). If Brahms is less important to you than Stokowski, then this recording will satisfy. "
5   See the excellent Stokowski discography, including acoustic works recorded, but not issued by the Stokowski expert and scholar: Enno Riekena  found at: http://www.geocities.com/stokowskisite/disco/lsdiscs.htm
6   Newmarch, Rosa Tchaikovsky: His Life and Works With Extracts from His Writings John Lane, The Bodley Head, New York, NY 1906, republished 2006 ISBN 1425496741
7  Dolmetsch, Arnold The Interpretation of the Music of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries London, Novello and Company 1915
8  page 9 W. R. Murphy Musical America magazine New York, NY September 15, 1928. 
9   page 192. Gerson, Robert A.  Music in Philadelphia.  Theodore Presser Co.  Philadelphia. 1940.
10   page 20.  The Instrumentalist, Volume 4.  Association for the Advancement of Instrumental Music. 1949.
11   page 2.  The Baton.  Institute of Musical Art.  Volume VII number 3. January, 1928.