Penn Library

Leopold Stokowski:
Making Music Matter

Curated by Marjorie Hassen

Otto E. Albrecht Music Library
University of Pennsylvania

Stokowski Conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Academy of Music
Philadelphia, 1939

"Philadelphians who came to concerts were never quite sure where the musicians would be seated," Herbert Kupferberg commented in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his 1969 book on the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski's penchant for experimenting with various orchestral seating arrangements led to this 1939 arrangement with brass, woodwinds, and percussion placed in front, and strings behind. Stokowski believed, Kupferberg wrote, that by placing "the strings closest of all to the acoustical shell built at the back of the Academy stage, the string sound would be reflected most strongly to the audience out front."

When Stokowski returned to Philadelphia in 1960 to conduct the Orchestra after a nineteen-year absence he again reseated the orchestra. On that occasion the lower strings were positioned at the back of the stage, the violins and violas were seated on his left, and the winds, brass, and percussion on his right.

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