1937 Recordings of

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra




Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings of 1937



Stokowski photo

  Leopold Seyffert painting of Leopold Stokowski, circa 1912  

(painting since lost at sea)


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1937 Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings


In 1937, as in previous years, the Philadelphia Orchestra recordings were done in two sessions: in the Spring and in the Autumn.  The Spring recording session for Stokowski took place in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on two Mondays: April 5 and April 19, 1937.  Stokowski had not conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in either concert or recording sessions between the end of November, 1936 and the first week of April, 1937.


The April 5 session included two Stokowski orchestrations: 'Claire de lune' from Debussy's 'Suite bergamasque' and the Bach-Stokowski music from the Cantata no 4 'Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn', also known as 'Christ lag in Todes Banden', BWV 4.  Also programmed was a re-recordings of the orchestral spectacular which Stokowski and the Philadelphians had recorded in the 1920s: the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's opera Prince Igor.


Two works were recorded on April 5, 1937 which Victor did not release.  These were a Gypsy Dance by Joaquin Turina, and a re-recording of the Strauss 'Dance of the 7 Veils' from Salome.  However, the first work recorded in that April 5, 1937 session was the Prelude to Act 1 of Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde.


1937 - Prelude to Act 1 of Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde


On Monday, 5 April 1937, just after the concerts of 2 and 3 April, Stokowski recorded the famous Prelude to Act 1 of Wagner's dramatic opera, Tristan und Isolde.  Stokowski had conducted Wagner: Parsifal his Act 3 excerpts from Parsifal in the 2 and 3 April subscription concerts. 


This was Stokowski's first commercially released recording of the Act 1 Prelude to Tristan.  The recording was a companion to his other Tristan und Isolde transcriptions.  In April, 1932 Stokowski recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra excerpts from Tristan und Isolde Act II, concluding with the Love Music (Liebesnacht) from Act II, but without the Prelude to Act 1, or other music from the opera.  This was later referred to as the "Short Transcription" or "First Transcription" of music from Tristan und Isolde.  Reception to the 1932 Stokowski Tristan transcription regretted the missing Liebestod from Act III.  Consequently, Stokowski prepared a more extensive transcription, referred to as the "Second Transcription" or "Long Transcription" which he recorded in 1935.  This second "Symphonic Synthesis" transcription expanded the music from Acts 2 and 3, concluding the transcription with a transition from the Act II music to the concluding finale of the opera, the Liebestod in which Isolde sings over the body of Tristan.  Not included in this transcription was the Prelude to Act 1, of which Wagner himself had prepared an arrangement for concert performance.  This is the arrangement of the Act 1 Prelude performed on this 1937 recording.  Taken with the 1935 recording of music from Acts 2 and 3 and concluding with the Liebestod, this forms the full "Long Transcription" which Stokowski again recorded for RCA Victor in November, 1950.


In the acoustic era, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had attempted to record this Prelude during three different recording sessions in 1922.  None of these were released.  We can only imagine how difficult such an atmospheric and delicate piece of music such as this Act 1 Prelude would have been to capture within the difficulties and limitations of the acoustic process.


Stokowski photo


The second side of this recording was re-recorded at the orchestra's recording session of November 7, 1937.  The result was released on three sides of Victor Red seal 12 inch (30 cm) disks: Victor 15202, 15203 A in M-508 matrices CS 07553-1, CS 07554-2, CS 07555-1.  This performance is well-played, but seems perhaps to lack the ultimate passion and mystery which Stokowski evoked in certain later recordings, including the 1973 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recording late in his career.  This 1937 performance is still satisfying and deeply felt, and preferable to my ears to the Albert Coates or Alfred Hertz or Karl Elmendorf recordings which may have been the alternatives at that time.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Prelude to Act 1 - Tristan und Isolde

1937 - Bach - Cantata no 4 'Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn', BWV 4


Stokowski photo


Also on April 5, 1937, Stokowski recorded his orchestration of 'Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn', the fourth movement of Cantata no 4 ('Christ Lag In Todesbanden') BWV 4.  The original Bach orchestration of the Cantata is for 1 cornet, 3 trombones, 2 violins, 2 violas and continuo, with soloists and chorus.  However, this fourth movement of the Cantata is scored for only two violins and continuo with Tenor.  By clicking on the link below, you can listen to the first minute of a baroque instrument performance of this aria, so as to contrast it with Stokowski's arrangement for full orchestra.


Click here to listen to (download) an excerpt of a baroque performance of Bach Cantata 4 - 4


As you can hear, the Stokowski orchestration for full strings and winds is heavier, more inflated and played more slowly than today's baroque instrument performance of this inspired work.  The more fleet and joyous performance of the baroque orchestra seems more appropriate to this joyous music which celebrates the conquering of death which has lost its sting.  However, this 1937 performance likely provided enjoyment of music which otherwise, in that era, might not have been heard.


This recording was issued on Victor Red Seal disk 14583 in M-401, and in Europe on HMV ED 178 matrix CS 07558-1.  It was coupled with the November 16, 1936 Stokowski recording of his orchestration of Bach's Violin Partita no 1 in b minor BWV 1002, movement 5 'Sarabande'.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Bach Cantata no 4 - 4 'Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn'

1937 - Borodin - 'Polovtsian Dances' from 'Prince Igor'


Prince Igor is an opera written by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) composed over several decades.  However, the opera was still unfinished at Borodin's death in 1887.  Over then next three years, it was arranged, edited and completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) working with Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936).  The completed opera was then given its premier in 1890.


On April 29, 1925, during the very first electrical recording session of the Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the second recording they made, just following the historic recording of Danse macabre was the 1925 Stokowski recording of the Polovetzki Dances .  Now, a dozen years later, Stokowski recorded a new arrangement and orchestration of music from Prince Igor.  This is an extended recording, more than sixteen minutes of music from Borodin's opera, compared with 4 minutes in the 1925 excerpts.  This 1937 recording consists of three episodes linked togerther in Stokowski's orchestration and arrangement:


- Prelude


- Dance of the young Maidens


- Final Dance, Act 2


In Stokowski's arrangement the chorus is eliminated and the music given primarily to woodwinds and strings.  It is a vigorous performance.  To retain Stokowski's linkages, the mp3 file below is of the full sixteen minutes as a continuous flow.  However, this makes the file large at 15 megabytes, which may lead to a slow download, depending on your internet connection speed.


This April 7, 1937 recording was issued on three sides of Victor Red Seal 12 inch (30 cm) disks, catalogue 15169 and 15170 in Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-499.  In Europe it was issued on HMV DB 3232 and DB 3233.  The matrices are CS 07559, CS 07560, CS 07561, and CS 07562.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Borodin - Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (large file)

1937 - Stravinsky - Petrushka (1911 version)


In 1937, following the concert performance of the music from Stravinsky's 1911 ballet 'Petrushka' on 16 and 17 April, 1937, Stokowski recorded the music on 19 April 1937.  Stokowski had not performed Petrushka in Philadelphia often, the only previous performances being the concert pairs of 14, 15 January 1927 and 12, 15 November 1935.  This recording is of the 1911 version of the ballet, with fuller, more ample orchestration.  Stokowski seems to have preferred the 1911 version throughout his career, even after Stravinsky introduced the 1947 revised version, scored for a smaller orchestra (and also providing Stravinsky with a new flow of well-earned copyright income.)


This recording is beautifully played and is one of the best sounding recordings of 1937.  The balance and impact are significantly better than what had been achieved during the excellent period 1926-1929.  Listen for example to the bite and impact of the tuba parts.   I have tried to correct some problems of intonation of the otherwise superb playing of the trumpets in a few places.  Stokowski generally performs the score 'straight' except for some minor changes, such as the altered drum roll part at the introduction to the Dance of the Ballerina at about 15:10 in this recording.  Also listen to the beautiful interplay among the bassoon, trumpet and flute (Sol Schoenbach, Saul Caston and William Kincaid) at this point.


I decided to keep the 1937 recording of Petrushka in one continuous .mp3 recording, because of the disruptive effects of breaking it into parts.  However, as a result the mp3 file is large - slightly less than 30MB, so it will take several minutes to download, depending on your internet access speed.


Click here to listen to - download the 1937 Stravinsky Petrushka (caution - large 30MB file)

1937 - Franck - Grand piece symphonique in f sharp minor opus 17 - Andante


Following the Petrushka recording, on 19 April 1937, Stokowski also recorded his orchestration of the Andante - the second movement of the César Franck (1822-1890) Grand piece symphonique in f sharp minor opus 17.  This organ work was originally written by Franck (1822-1890) in about 1861, and was part of Stokowski's repertoire as an organist.


Stokowski photo

César Franck in about 1870


The Grand piece symphonique is a large work, which prepared the way for other massive organ works such as those of Louis Vierne (1870-1937) and Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937).  It also seems to be a precursor to Franck's most successful work, the Symphony in D Minor.  Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931), Franck's student and admirer wrote:

"...his Grand Piece in F sharp minor, is really a symphony in three movements, and displays all the characteristics of this form of composition: the first movement is built on two ideas in sonata-form proceeded by an introduction which reappears in the course of the development; the Andante is in the form of a song, the second section of which, by reason of its rapid tempo may be regarded as taking the place of a Scherzo (the composer returned to this plan of construction later in his Symphony in D.)..." 1


Stokowski's reading of this work seems to me somewhat maudlin, although it could be argued that this is not antithetical to the late romantic sentiment of the period of the original work's composition.  The orchestration seems particularly effective, in accord with the organ original. 


Stokowski photo


This recording was issued on the A side of Victor 12 inch (30 cm) Red Seal disk 14947, matrix CS 07602-1.  It was coupled with Stokowski's November 16, 1936 recording of his orchestration of a Tchaikovsky song, which Stokowski named "Solitude".


Click here to listen to - download the 1937 Franck's Grand pièce symphonique - Andante

1937 - Harl McDonald - Concerto for Two Pianos


In November, 1935, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had recorded excerpts of two works, the Rhumba movement from the Symphony no 2, and the Dance of the Workers by the Philadelphia composer Harl McDonald.  On April 19, 1937, Stokowski and the orchestra returned to McDonald, recording his Concerto for Two Pianos.


Stokowski photo

  Harl McDonald in about 1935. photo: University of Pennsylvania Archives


Harl McDonald was born in Boulder, Colorado on July 27, 1899.  He joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1927, and joined the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the 1920s.  Helater 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 Orchestra Manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra, working closely with both Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy, and also toured with the orchestra.  McDonald was elected to the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association.  He died suddenly in Princeton, New Jersey in 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.


McDonald's Concerto for Two Pianos is both interesting and well-crafted composition, with the influence found in the other McDonald works recorded by Stokowski of Cuban or Latin music.  From Harl McDonald's university background, a listener might expect a manifestly academic composition.  Instead, Harl McDonald's compositions as performed and recorded by Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and Serge Koussevitzky show musical inspiration of a high order.  In my view, Harl McDonald's compositions should be remembered and performed more than they are, today.


The pianists of this performance had Curtis and Juilliard backgrounds.  Jeanne Behrend (1911-1988) was from Philadelphia and graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1934, and later taught at the Juilliard School, the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and at Temple University.  She married Alexander Kelberine (1903-1940), born in Russia and they formed a piano duo team for several years, before Kelberine's untimely death in 1940.


Harl McDonald's Concerto for Two Pianos was written in 1936 and recorded April 19, 1937.  It was issued on three Victor 12 inch (30cm) Red Seal Disks, catalogue numbers 15410, 15411, and 15412 in album M-557.  For a work of this nature during the depression years, it was also somewhat surprisingly issued in Europe on HMV DB 5700, HMV DB 5701, and HMV DB 5702.  The matrices are CS 07596, CS 07597, CS 07598, CS 07599, CS 07600, and CS 07601.


Click here to listen to (download) the Harl McDonald - Concerto for Two Pianos - movement 1


Click here to listen to (download) the Harl McDonald - Concerto for Two Pianos - movement 2


Click here to listen to (download) the Harl McDonald - Concerto for Two Pianos - movement 3

1937 - Weber - Invitation to the Dance


During the April 19, 1937 recording session, Stokowski and the Philadelphians re-recorded one of their most successful recordings of the early electrical era: The Invitation to the Dance (Aufforderung zum Tanz), opus 65 by Carl Maria von Weber.  This work was originally written for piano, and was orchestrated several times, including by Berlioz and by Felix Weingartner.  This performance seems to be based on a Stokowski orchestration combining Felix Weingartner's version with further changes by Stokowski.


The performance, although well-played and in agreeable sound is another example of a work recorded with finesse and inspiration in the golden Philadelphia recording era of 1926-1929, which, when re-recorded in the 1930s seems to lack the full measure of the inspiration of the earlier recording.  The Weber recording of May 2, 1927 was one of the finest (and also one of the best-selling) Victor Red Seal recordings of that era.


Yet, this is a very good performance unto itself.  The portamento of the strings at the beginning, already out of fashion in orchestral playing in the 1930s gives this performance a "salon orchestra" feeling which seems totally appropriate.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Weber Invitation to the Dance

1937 - William Byrd - Earl of Salisbury Pavane and Gigue


During the April 19, 1937 recording session, Stokowski recorded his arrangement of two works by William Byrd (1543-1623).  These were a Pavane written for the Earl of Salisbury, joined to a gigue.  These were two dance pieces originally composed for clavichord, one hundred years before Bach, and sumptuously orchestrated by Stokowski.


Stokowski photo

   William Byrd (1543-1623)


This recording was issued on two sides of a Victor Red Seal 10 inch (25 cm) disk catalogue number 1943 and in Europe on HMV DA 1637.  The matrices are BS 07603-1, BS 07604-1.


Edward Johnson, the widely recognized musical scholar and expert on Leopold Stokowski has written an article on Leopold Stokowski and British Music, in which he references this performance of the music of William Byrd.  Click here to read the Edward Johnson article on Leopold Stokowski and British Music .


Although this arrangement and performance do not follow what we regard as today as 'authentic' performance principles, Stokowski's arrangement of this music is light, elegant and enjoyable.  Have a listen by clicking on the link, below.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Byrd - Earl of Salisbury Pavane and Gigue

The November 7, 1937 Recording Session


The November 7, 1937 recording session was made up of French music - that is, if Chopin can be counted as French, which I believe the French would certainly do.  It also included some of the best Stokowski recordings of the later 1930s.


Claude Debussy - Nuages from Three Nocturnes


On September 27, 1928 and May 2, 1929, Stokowski had made what was likely the first successful gramophone record of Nuages, the first of the Trois Nocturnes written by Claude Debussey in 1899 wrote his Three Nocturnes: Nuages, Fêtes, and Sirènes, each having a different texture.  Although Debussy did not accept the "impressionist" label for his compositions, Nuages does present an image or impression of the formless nature of clouds, with the changing textures that evoke the subject of the title.


This is a beautiful and evocative recording doing full justice to the composition.  Listen to the georgeous English horn playing of John Minsker, English horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1936-1959,


This recording was made in two consecutive first takes, and issued on a Victor Red Seal 12 inch (30 cm) disk, catalogue number 15814 in album M-630.  In Europe, it was issued on HMV DB 3596.  The matrices are CS 014371-1, CS 014372-1.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Debussy - Nuages from Three Nocturnes

Frederic Chopin (orchestrated by Stokowski) - Mazurka in A minor opus 17 no 4 and Prelude in D minor, opus 28 no 24


Stokowski during his career orchestrated and performed a number of Chopin's works from their piano form, including:

-  Mazurka no 13 in a minor opus 17 no 4

-  Mazurka no 17 in b flat minor opus 24 no 4

-  Polonaise in A opus. 40 no 1

-  Prélude no 4 in e minor opus 28 no 4

-  Prélude no 24 in d minor opus 28 no 24

-  Waltz no 7 in c sharp minor opus 64 no 2


He recorded two of these orchestrations on November 7, 1937 in the Academy of Music: the Mazurka in A minor opus 17 no 4 and the Prelude in D minor, opus 28 no 24.  I believe these orchestrations are best appreciated by considering them as new works inspired by the Chopin originals.  The orchestrations and performances of these two works are dramatic and played with evident virtuosity by the Philadelphia musicians.


The Mazurka seems to me to be fully effective as presented in its orchestral clothing, without reference to the effect of the original piano work.  The Prelude, however seems to me less successful.  When an orchestral score is reduced for piano, the repeated playing of piano notes to imitate the legato of strings is often unsuccessful.  Similarly, Stokowski's orchestration of the frequent Chopin trills, dramatic and striking when played on the piano, seems to be less successful when given to the brass instruments to trill - an artificial effect.


The Mazurka in A minor opus 17 no 4 was released on two sides of a Victor 10 inch (25 cm) Red Seal record catalogue number 1855.  In Europe, it was issued on a 10 inch (25 cm) Gramophone disc: EC 78.  Matricies are BS 03124-1, BS 03125-1.  The Prelude in D minor, opus 28 no 24 was issued on Victor 1998, matrix CS 014370-1.  The flip side contained the Stokowski orchestration of Stravinsky's Pastorale.  This record's European counterpart was Gramophone DA 1639


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Chopin Mazurka in A minor


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Prelude in D minor

1937 - Dukas - L'Apprenti sorcier


Paul Dukas (1865-1935) wrote L'Apprenti sorcier (Sorcerer's Apprentice) in 1897, so the compositon was only 40 years old and Dukas had only recently died when this recording was made.  Dukas had studied at the Paris Conservatoire where he became a life-long friend of his fellow student Claude Debussy, although Dukas would seem musically from an earlier period.  The composition was based on Goethe poem The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Der Zauberlehrling), written 100 years before, and was widely known - at least in Germany.


Stokowski photo

  Paul Dukas in about 1915


The Paul Dukas composition L'Apprenti sorcier (Sorcerer's Apprentice) was to become well-known and often associated with Stokowski and Mickey Mouse, due to the successful and entertaining segment in Walt Disney's movie Fantasia - but that was in the future (two years later).   


The August 1938 Gramophone review of this recording was admiring as to the playing and of Stokowski's control of the piece:


"...How fat is this bassoon : a masterly broomstick, this, sardonic in its slyness. Accompanying it are draughts of magic (with now and again a tiny Wagnerian tincture. The working up is exciting and yet beautifully controlled)..." 2.


The recording of this work, later considered by some as a "lollipop", is given a serious and virtuoso reading here, with a threatening tone as the Sorcerer's Apprentice becomes in deeper and deeper troubles, but also with a dash of humor.  For those who have listened often to Stokowski's Fantasia performance, this 1937 recording is both more profound in its treatment of Dukas' compostion, and more complete.  Although perhaps not intended as a showpiece for orchestra, in the hands of the Philadelphians, it does demonstrate the greatness of all choirs.  The bassoon solo would be performed by the 22 year-old Sol Schoenbach, since unfortunately Walter Guetter succumbed to cancer the previous May 1, 1937.


This recording was issued on three sides of Victor 12 inch (30cm) Red Seal disks numbers 17501 and 17502 Side A, coupled with the Prelude to Act 3 of Ivan the Terrible in Victor Musical Masterpiece album M-717.  In Europe, it was issued on HMV DB 6038 and 6039 Side A coupled with the Sibelius Berceuse from The Tempest, opus 64 on the fourth side.  The matrix numbers are CS 014367-1, CS 014368-1, and CS 014369-1, again, all first takes.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Stokowski - Dukas - L'Apprenti sorcier

Jean Sibelius's Incidental Music to Shakespeare drama The Tempest opus 109 - Berceuse


During the November 7, 1937 recording session, Stokowski also recorded, for the first time, his arrangement of a movement from Jean Sibelius's Incidental Music to Shakespeare drama The Tempest opus 109 which Sibelius wrote in 1925 and 1926.  This was one of Sibelius's last completed works, and the music here: the Berceuse comes from one of the Suites of the original incidental music which Sibelius arranged.  The music accompanies the Act 1, scene 2 in which Miranda falls asleep, perhaps because of a magic spell by her father, Prospero.  The music has an appropriately dreamy and evocative spirit, beautifully played by Stokowski and the Philadelphia strings, with a harp accompaniment by Edna Phillips, Principal harp of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1930-1946.


Stokowski's performance is atmospheric and ethereal, but not mannered or sentimental, which a number of other conductors have done.  This is a beautiful and sumptuous recording with the luxurious strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra restored by Dan Harvey from a pristine original disc.  Dan is a Jazz and Classical Music Archivist based in Indianapolis.  His fine restoration of this recording shows that not only was the performance a great performance, but also the sound captured by the Victor engineers was remarkable for 1936.  Also, Dan has remarked on the beauty of the Philadelphia Orchestra strings.  You will hear how correct he is in this appreciation.  Thanks for the restoration Dan!  Click on the link below to enjoy this dramatic performance, giving joy even more than 75 years after its recording.


This recording was issued on a 10 inch (25 cm) Victor Red Seal Disk catalogue number 14726 B - the flip side of the January 15, 1936 recording of the Sibelius Valse Triste .  In Europe, this evocative recording was issued by the Gramophone Company on HMV DB 6009 with the same coupling.  It was also issued on HMV DB 3318 coupled with the 1936 Franck Panis Angelicus The matrix number is CS 94656-1.  As was his habit during much of the 1930s, Stokowski approved the first take for this recording.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 The Tempest opus 109 - Berceuse

The December 12, 1937 Recording Session


1937 - Claude Debussy - Nocturne - Fêtes


Following their November 1937 recording of the first Debussy Nocturne - Nuages, Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra turned to the second Nocturne - Fêtes in December.  They would not complete recording the Nocturnes with the third "scene", as Debussy called them, until the April 9, 1939 recording of Sirènes


Following the dreamy atmosphere of Nuages, Fêtes is a brilliant orchestral work beginning with a rhythmic swirl of color of full orchestra with harp.  There are effects of a brass band that is reminiscent of the band of the Garde Républicaine at a festival.  How exhilerating to hear the full Philadelphia Orchestra playing such brilliant music!  The music repeats several times until the end when the festival procession and its band recedes into the distance.


This superb recording was issued on two faces of a Victor Red Seal 10 inch (25 cm) disk, catalogue number 2034, also included in album M-630 containing the Three Nocturnes.  In Europe it as issued on HMV DA 1742.  The matrices are BS 014391-3 and BS 014392-5.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Debussy - Nocturne - Fêtes

Frederic Chopin (orchestrated by Stokowski) - Mazurka in B-flat minor opus 24 no 4


During this 12 December 1937 session, Stokowski recorded a third Chopin orchestration of that November-December recording period.  Stokowski's version of Chopin's Mazurka in B-flat minor opus 24 no 4 is perhaps further removed from the musical effect of Chopin's original than with his recordings of the Mazurka in A minor or the Prelude in D minor of the previous month.  Stokowski's orchestration slides among orchestral washes of kaleidoscopic colors.  In contrast, Chopin's original is chiseled, with flinty sparks.  As with other Stokowski orchestrations of Chopin, this recording is best appreciated as a new work inspired by the themes composed by Chopin, rather than as an arrangement of the original masterwork.


This recording was issued on a 12 inch (30 cm) Victor Red Seal disk 18267 in album M-841, and does not seem to have been issued by HMV.  The matrix number was CS 014393-1, and it was coupled with the with Glière Symphony no 3 Ilya Mourometz


Click here to listen to Chopin-Stokowski - Mazurka in B-flat minor opus 24 no 4

Johann Sebastian Bach (orchestrated by Stokowski) - Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 555


This Stokowski transcription is of the third Prelude and Fugue from Bach's Eight Short Preludes & Fugues, BWV 553-560.  Scholars now question Bach's authorship of this work, speculating that is is perhaps a compositon of Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780).  The work itself does not seem particularly distinguished, being somewhat ponderous.  However, the fugual interplay is interesting, and Stokowski makes the most of the contrasting themes with his instrumentation.  This is a short, four minute piece, and Stokowski's performance slows at the conclusion, perhaps to add to the overall impression and impact.  Stokowski had given the premiere of his transcription in December 1937 concerts in Philadelphia and New York City just prior to this recording.


Stokowski photo

  Leopold Stokowski in a 1937 publicity photograph for CBS broadcasts of the Philadelphia Orchestra


This recording was issued on a Victor Red Seal 12 inch (30 cm) disk 11-8577 in M-963, coupled with his transcription of Bach's Chorale prelude "Ich ruf' zu dir" BWV 639.  The matrix number was CS 014394-1.


Click here to listen to Bach-Stokowski - Prelude and Fugue in E minor

1937 - Eric Satie - Gymnopédie no 1 and no 3


Éric Satie (1866-1925), or Erik Satie, as he later spelled his name was an original composer who was important in the musicial avant-garde of Paris at the turn of the century.  He composed three "Gymnopédie", as he called them, for piano in about 1888.  Each is in a style unconventional for the period, using mildly dissonant chords.  They are short, gentle, and atmospheric.


To aid the recognition of this friend's music, Claude Debussy in 1897 orchestrated two of the Gymnopédie.  These were the first and the third Gymnopédie, since Debussy considered the second not amenable to orchestration.  Debussy also reversed the numbering of Satie's compostions, with the orchestration of Satie's first Gymnopédie entitled Third Gymnopédie by Debussy, and the reverse for Satie's third Gymnopédie


Stokowski's performances are light and atmospheric, and bring alive the gentle beauty of these compostions.  Gymnopédie no 1 and Gymnopédie no 3 where paired on a Victor 10 inch (25 cm) Red Seal disk catalogue number 1965.  HMV's issue in Europe was on HMV DA 1688.  The matrix numbers were BS 014395-1 and BS 014396-1.


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Eric Satie - Gymnopédie no 1


Click here to listen to (download) the 1937 Eric Satie - Gymnopédie no 3

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 d' Indy, Vincent  César Franck.  Collection "Les Matres de la Musique".  Librarie Felix Alcan.  Paris. 1906.


2 page 15.  The Gramophone.  London  August, 1938.


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