Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky, Conductor – rehearse Bruckner: Symphony Nr. 7 – April 18, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Continuing the series of Boston Symphony rehearsal broadcasts. This one features the Boston Symphony under their then-music Director Serge Koussevitzky in a rehearsal of the Symphony Number 7 of Anton Bruckner.
Koussevitzky’s appointment as conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) was the beginning of a golden era for the ensemble that would continue until 1949. Over that 25-year period, he built the ensemble’s reputation into that of a leading American orchestra. Together with Gertrude Robinson Smith he played a central role in developing the orchestra’s internationally acclaimed summer concert and educational programs at Tanglewood where today the 5,700-seat main performance venue bears his name. In the early 1940s, he discovered a young tenor named Alfred Cocozza (who would later be known as Mario Lanza), and provided him with a scholarship to attend Tanglewood. With the Boston Symphony he made numerous recordings, most of which were well regarded by critics. His students and protégés included Leonard Bernstein, Eleazar de Carvalho, Samuel Adler, and Sarah Caldwell. Bernstein once received a pair of cufflinks from Koussevitzky as a gift, and thereafter wore them at every concert he conducted.
It’s too bad Koussevitzky never made a commercial recording of this symphony. But at the time, Bruckner wasn’t an easy tackle for a record company. RCA-Victor was still selling 78’s and getting ready to introduce 45’s. And since the majority of symphonies of Anton Bruckner were long, he would have been a hard sell to a public not all that familiar with him. Columbia, on the other hand, was getting ready to introduce the lp to the record buying public. By 1951 there were several different versions of most of the Bruckner symphonies, but by that time, Serge Koussevizky had already passed away.
Still, here’s an opportunity to hear the legendary Koussevitzky in rehearsal of Bruckner’s Symphony Number 7 – as broadcast by NBC Radio and narrated (to the point of distraction) by music critic Olin Downes. It was originally aired on April 18, 1949.
More next week.
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