Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra - getting ready to embark on their second U.S. tour in 1937.

Philadelphia Orchestra 1937 Tour Concert – Stokowski, Iturbi, Marian Anderson, Ormandy – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

Leopold Stokowski - getting ready to embark on their second U.S. tour in 1937.
Leopold Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra – getting ready to embark on their second U.S. tour in 1937.

NBC Blue Network – The Magic Key – The Philadelphia Orchestra 1937 Tour Concert – April 18, 1937 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Another rare concert broadcast from the 1930s this week. The Philadelphia Orchestra, getting ready to embark on their 2nd U.S. Tour, held a special concert via the NBC-Blue Network’s Magic Key series on April 18, 1937.

During this one hour program, all four Conductors for the Philadelphia Orchestra are featured – Music Director Leopold Stokowski, along with Josè Iturbi, Eugene Ormandy and Frank Black. In addition, guest soloists are Iturbi in the role of Pianist and Contralto Marian Anderson.
Leopold Stokowski was appointed the director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and he made his conducting debut in Philadelphia on 11 October 1912. This position would bring him some of his greatest accomplishments and recognition. It has been suggested that Stokowski resigned abruptly at Cincinnati with the hidden knowledge that the conducting position in Philadelphia was his when he wanted it, or as Oscar Levant suggested in his book A Smattering of Ignorance, “he had the contract in his back pocket.” Before Stokowski moved into his conducting position in Philadelphia, however, he returned to England to conduct two concerts at the Queen’s Hall in London. On 22 May 1912, Stokowski conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert that he was to repeat in its entirety 60 years later at the age of 90, and on 14 June 1912, he conducted an all-Wagner concert that featured the noted soprano Lillian Nordica. While he was director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was largely responsible for convincing Mary Louise Curtis Bok to set up the Curtis Institute of Music (13 October 1924) in Philadelphia. He helped with recruiting faculty and hired many of their graduates.

Stokowski’s repertoire was broad and included many contemporary works. He was the only conductor to perform all of Arnold Schoenberg’s orchestral works during the composer’s own lifetime, several of which were world premieres. Stokowski gave the first American performance of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder in 1932. It was recorded “live” on 78 rpm records and remained the only recording of this work in the catalogue until the advent of the LP Record. Stokowski also presented the American premieres of four of Dmitri Shostakovich’s symphonies, Numbers 1, 3, 6, and 11. In 1916, Stokowski conducted the American premiere of Mahler’s 8th Symphony, Symphony of a Thousand, whose premiere he had attended in Munich on 12 September, 1910.

Since The Magic Key program was sponsored by RCA Victor, it was only natural they would put on this special concert broadcast – not only to stimulate sales of records, but also stimulate ticket sales at concerts during the Orchestra’s 24-city transcontinental tour.

So, a one-hour going-away party by one of the most popular orchestras in America, exactly as it was broadcast on April 18, 1937.

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