Penn Library

Eugene Ormandy
A Centennial Celebration

Curated by Marjorie Hassen
Otto E. Albrecht Music Library
University of Pennsylvania


Table of Contents

The Philadelphia Sound

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition--"Promenade" and "Tuileries" (opening)--recorded July 1978 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia


Ormandy inherited a virtuosic ensemble from Stokowski and continued to maintain a high artistic level throughout his tenure in Philadelphia. The changes he did make were accomplished over time and included a move from "free bowing" in the strings, which was favored by Stokowski, to the more traditional "uniform bowing"--with all strings simultaneously bowing in the same direction--while still preserving a seamless sound. Gradual changes in orchestra personnel also contributed to Ormandy's molding of his own orchestral sound, but an additional consideration is Ormandy's distinctive interpretations of the works he conducted. In this matter his influence extended beyond dynamics, phrasing, and tempi to the recomposition of the score itself.

Although not unique to Ormandy, the role of conductor as editor and arranger was clearly one that he adopted during his forty-two years as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Contributing to the rich texture he achieved in performance was his practice of altering orchestrations by doubling one instrumental part by another. He also made cuts to works and often reworked the composer's conception of a particular rhythmic or melodic passage. While his critics complained loudly about the latitude he took in altering the compositions he conducted, Ormandy regularly employed this battery of techniques to achieve the sound ideal that earned him and the Philadelphia considerable distinction.


Columbia Records, recorded 1965

Columbia Records, recorded 1965

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