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Leopold Stokowski Discography & Concert Register

Compiled by John Hunt
ISBN 0952582759 275 pages
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

This book may be just for specialists in the Stokowski legacy. It is not perfect, but it is an impressive work of scholarship. The amount of work that had to be put into compiling these two documents is staggering. I find it a valuable insight into the work of Maestro Leopold Stokowski and highly recommend it to those interested.

Leopold Stokowski conducted in public from 1904 until 1975. He recorded from 1917 until 1977. The sheer quantity of material that had to be recorded is immense. That a few errors occurred is forgivable. In almost every case the error was one of omission, not commission. In some cases the problem is minute. For example, Ed Johnson came across a photo copy of an LP issued by a high school in New York in 1966. Taken from a live performance, it includes Stokowski leading the student orchestra, chorus and soloists in Fauré's Requiem. This was missed in Mr. Hunt's document.

The first half of the book contains a discography of all of Stokowski's recordings. It lists everything from 78s, LPs, and the CDs as well. It is very up-to-date, including the CD numbers on a forthcoming 14 disc RCA set (due out this year). Rare items are also included such as the recent CD issue of a live performance of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony done when Stokowski toured the Soviet Union in 1958. The first recording issued was Brahms' Hungarian Dances #5 and 6, recorded in acoustic in October of 1917. The last was a stereo recording with the National Philharmonic of Bizet's Symphony coupled with Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony made in May/June of 1977. There were plans to record Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2 in October of that year, but he died in September. Included are also several CD issues of live performances, like the Shostakovich 11th mentioned, which were never on LP.

The Stokowski legacy in recording is an amazing document in itself. There are 135 pages, small type, listing every piece recorded or available from live performances. They are listed alphabetically by composer. Each piece which was recorded more than once is so indicated, giving details about the date and matrix numbers for each release. Ten recordings of the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor are listed, including 3 from live performances which were not listed in the last published discography (done by Ed Johnson in 1982 and issued in Oliver Daniels' tome, Stokowski: A Counter Point of View.) I was even more educated by reading the Concert Register, which comprises the second half of the book. It is a listing of the concerts conducted by Stokowski from 1904 until his live performance in 1975. The first listing was of a 1904 concert when Stokowski was an organist at St. Piccadilly in London. Next comes the 1909 concert in Paris with Stokowski conducting the Colonne Orchestra in Russian music, including his wife-to-be, Olga Samaroff in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1. It was this concert that was watched by a Cincinnati Symphony 'scout' and led to the offer to have Stokowski assume the conducting and music director position in Cincinnati. This list consumes 111 pages of text. I have not had the chance to examine each page with a fine tooth comb, but the list is interesting for what is not in the repertoire as well as what is. Specifically, I can find no evidence that Stokowski ever conducted a Bruckner Symphony. I always thought that Bruckner and Stokowski would be made-for-each-other.

The final section of the book lists the 400+ world or U.S. premières led by Stokowski. An interesting thing here is that Elgar's Symphony #2 got its U.S. première in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, to find this out you would have to go from the listing on page 273 to the Concert Register to track down the details. This is a pain.

The bottom line, however, is that despite its flaws Mr. Hunt has provided an excellent source of information about the Stokowski legacy. More and more recordings are being made of Stokowski's transcriptions for orchestra. The commercial companies are finally issuing, in good sound, Stokowski's own recordings. Smaller companies, like Pearl, Biddulph and Dutton, are issuing his older recordings. (In fact, some time in 1997 Pearl will issue a 3CD set of all of Stokowski's acoustic recordings, including many never before issued) Then there are recordings taken from live performances. All of this adds to the picture of what Stokowski accomplished.

Many people count as their introduction to classical music the movie Fantasia (Fan-ta-sia…as Stokowski pronounced it). This book lets us see just how much more Stokowski did for classical music and recording. I think that Stokowski's time has come and this book is another piece of the puzzle.

To get a copy write to: The Leopold Stokowski Society c/o Dennis Davis Flat B 23 Grantbridge St. London N1 8JL England. There are limited copies so get your order in early to assure this price. It is $32 in the U.S. And Canada. In England the price is 14 pounds, elsewhere 18 pounds. These prices include Air Postage, but please allow 28 days for delivery. Good stuff.

Copyright © 1997, Robert Stumpf II