The Boston Symphony In Rehearsal – Pierre Monteux, guest Conductor – February 17, 1951 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The legendary French Conductor Pierre Monteux rehearses the Boston Symphony in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 4 this week. It was originally broadcast on February 17, 1951. Monteux was guest Conductor for the BSO frequently over the years. As The Boston Symphony’s Music Director from 1919-1924, Monteux had a good relationship with the orchestra throughout his career. At the time of this broadcast, Monteux was still Music Director for the San Francisco Symphony. A position he gave up in 1952. French by birth, Monteux became an American citizen in 1942.
In 1919 Monteux was appointed chief conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra was going through difficult times; its conductor, Karl Muck, had been forced by anti-German agitation to step down in 1917. Sir Henry Wood turned down the post, and despite press speculation neither Sergei Rachmaninoff nor Arturo Toscanini was appointed. At least twenty-four players of German heritage had been forced out with Muck, and orchestral morale was low. Shortly before Monteux took up the conductorship the autocratic founder and proprietor of the orchestra, Henry Lee Higginson, died. He had steadfastly resisted unionization, and after his death a substantial minority of the players resumed the struggle for union recognition. More than thirty players, including two important principals, resigned over the matter. Monteux set about rebuilding the orchestra, auditioning players from all kinds of musical background, some of whom had not played symphonic music before. By the end of his first season he had restored the orchestra to something approaching its normal complement. He trained the orchestra to a high standard; according to the critic Neville Cardus, Monteux’s musicianship “made the Boston Symphony Orchestra the most refined and musical in the world.”
This broadcast features Monteux rehearsing the orchestra in one work – the Beethoven Symphony Number 4. As always, the narrator is Ben Gruer.
Enjoy and take notes.
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