I was born in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1947. My parents lived in Slocum Station, just outside of Portsmouth. My Dad was 23 and making ends meet by trimming trees, my Mom was 18.
I have various early memories. My father reading Shakespeare to me, taking me to see Fantasia and Pinnocio at a theater on Parsons Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, where they had moved because Portsmouth was already dying. My Dad built his Hi-Fi System with Radio Shack materials. We had a few classical LPs. I remember playing the 1812 Overture with Antál Doráti conducting, Ravel's Boléro, Charles Munch, and Bruno Walter conducting the Beethoven 5th and Schubert 8th.
I don't read music, despite my Mother's efforts to have me learn to play the piano. In the Sixties I played guitar and sang lead. Usually I sang Dylan or my own compositions. Once I played as a lead in for the regular group at the Ohio State Fair.
After high school I went to Capital University for one year. I dropped out of college and got on a motorcycle to go and find myself. I got to LA and, there I was!! Boy, did I feel stupid. I soon realized the only thing I was qualified to do was go back to college, so I did. I graduated OSU in 1971, cum laude, with a degree in education majoring in English.
I started seriously listening to classical music while I was working on my Master's Degree in the Philosophy of Education. That was in 1976 and I was now at the University of Toledo, Ohio.
One day I went to a local record shop, wanting to add Dvořák's 9th to my small collection. I knew little about conductors, etc. but liked the piece. As usual, the store personnel was of no help. I went through the bin and there were several recordings to choose from. I had no idea what was "best" but one LP was a two-disc set that included a 1927 and 1973 recording of the piece. I noticed the same conductor recorded both and was impressed at the span of recording. This was the RCA two-fer set of Stokowski conducting the piece. I went home, put the disc on the platter, and was convinced that 'this guy' knew what he was doing.
Over time I collected more Stokowski recordings. My interest in his life and work increased. I joined the Stokowski Society in England, but felt there really ought to be one in his adopted country. One evening I called Sylvan Levin, who I read in the English journal, Toccata, was the American representative for the society. I recall he answered the phone and I said, "Mr. Levin, my name is Bob Stumpf and I have an idea I'd like to discuss with you." He said, "Okay, let's discuss." I did not know it when I called, but Sylvan had been an assistant conductor of Stokowski's with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Sylvan had helped prepare the U.S. première of Berg's Wozzeck and played the U.S. première of Ravel's Piano Concerto. With his help I was able to enlist the endorsements of people like Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy. Thus the L.S.S.A. was born in September of 1983. We are a non-profit corporation with papers filed in the State of Ohio.
Well, as I tell people, the society is a hobby that got out of hand. I am glad I am going to be able to keep working at it in this new and exciting medium.
A few more words. My vocation is as English teacher at a Vocational School in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. I have been in education for 25 years and love it. I am convinced of the need for improving the communication skills of all people as a means of making the world a better place. I am the father of five children: Robert Stumpf, III (21) Sarah Dawn Stumpf (18) Jasmine Arcadia Betz (7) and the twins, Maya Constance Stumpf Betz and Dylan Alicia Stumpf Betz (2).
My home address is: 106 E. Curtis St., Mt. Vernon, Ohio 43050. My phone number is (614) 392-LSSA.
Copyright © Robert Stumpf, II, 1996-2000. All Rights Reserved.