The Conquest of Philadelphia
During his career in Philadelphia he also experimented with lighting effects, at one point conducting in a darkened hall with only his head and hands illuminated. When he stopped conducting with a baton, late in the 1929-30 concert season, his free hand gestures became something of a trademark. And in his continual pursuit to instruct concertgoers on proper etiquette, he did not hesitate to turn and speak directly to the audience when disturbed by their behavior. This he seems to have done with great finesse, for Philadelphia succumbed to the Maestro's charisma. In all his twenty-nine years with the Orchestra, Stokowski's popularity never took a major tumble.Musically, he worked assiduously to achieve what would eventually become known as the "Stokowski sound." He encouraged "free bowing" in the strings and "free breathing" for the brass to eliminate the cessation of sonority in a musical phrase; he did not adhere to traditional orchestral seating arrangements but rather would move sections to different parts of the stage in the search for perfect balance; and his interest in acoustics led him to experimented with various shells and baffles to reflect sound.
Under Stokowski's directorship, programming expanded to allow for his broad musical interests and curiosities. His quest to perform contemporary works led to the Orchestra's premiere of an extraordinary number of important compositions during his tenure, beginning with the 1916 United States debut of Gustav Mahler's 8th Symphony. This spectacular event, however, was only the inaugural in a continuing series of "firsts" that would include tours, radio broadcasts, and recordings.
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