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The Midwest Experience: Ormandy in Minnesota
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Although Minneapolis in the 1930s was relatively isolated - a two-day train trip from the East Coast and eight hours from Chicago - the orchestra was able to attract a steady stream of distinguished soloists for its concerts, including Vladimir Horowitz (performing the Minneapolis premiere of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto), Paul Wittgenstein, Kirsten Flagstad, Gregor Piatigorsky, Nathan Milstein, Artur Schnabel, Walter Gieseking, Myra Hess, Joseph Szigeti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Lotte Lehmann, and "ten-year-old Ruth Slenczynski, who played the Mendelssohn G minor concerto in a half-standing position and had to jump for her fortes and sforzandos."

Lotte Lehmann, 1934
Eugene Ormandy Collection of Photographs, University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

Lehmann performed a set of Richard Strauss songs with the orchestra in 1934. The inscription reads, "Dem grossen Künstler Eugene Ormandi zur Erinnerung an erstes gemeinsames Wirken" (to the great artist Eugene Ormandy in remembrance of our first collaboration).
 

"Next Symphony Program"
Advertisement from the program for the Eighth Symphony Concert, 18 December 1931
Eugene Ormandy Papers, University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

Rachmaninoff was a favorite of Minneapolis audiences. He performed the Minneapolis premiere of his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in November 1935.
 
Stephanie Goldner
Ormandy met harpist Stephanie ("Steffy") Goldner when he joined the Capitol Theater Orchestra in 1921, and they married in August 1922. Two years later, she joined the New York Philharmonic - a notable event, as it marked the first appointment of a woman to the orchestra. When Ormandy moved to Minneapolis, she remained in her position with the Philharmonic, but in March 1932, near the end of Ormandy's first season in Minneapolis, she resigned. During the early 1930s, she gave birth to two children who died in their infancy.

In 1946, ten years after their move to Philadelphia, the Ormandys separated and eventually divorced in August 1947. Three years later, Ormandy married Margaret Frances (Gretel) Hitsch, a native of Vienna who had immigrated to the United States some years earlier, and they were together for the remainder of Ormandy's life. Stephanie Ormandy moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she lived until 1953, when she moved to New York City, where she played in pit orchestras on Broadway. (She played harp on the 1956 original Broadway cast recording of My Fair Lady.) She died of pancreatic cancer in 1962 in California, where her older sister Julia Goldner Elbogen was living.

Steffy Ormandy and Eugene Ormandy, ca. 1940
Eugene Ormandy Collection of Photographs, University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

"Steffy Ormandy Soloist at Final Friday Symphony"
Minneapolis Star, 16 April 1932
Eugene Ormandy Papers, University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

A review of Steffy Ormandy's debut as a soloist with the Minneapolis Symphony in Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299. She had resigned her position with the New York Philharmonic a few weeks earlier.

"Symphony Program Features Soloists"
St. Paul Pioneer Press, 20 February 1933
Eugene Ormandy Papers, University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

Steffy Ormandy returned for a repeat performance of the concerto during the 1932-33 season.

 

   
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