Penn Library

Leopold Stokowski:
Making Music Matter

Curated by Marjorie Hassen

Otto E. Albrecht Music Library
University of Pennsylvania


The Lure of Hollywood

It is the birthright of every man and woman to be able to hear inspired music, read good books and live for a time each year close to the earth and the beauty of nature. Because I believe this, I am planning to work in Hollywood each year for three or four months, with the object of doing everything I can to help bring great music to the movies.
--Leopold Stokowski (1937)

It was during the Philadelphia Orchestra's 1936 transcontinental tour that the mutual attraction between Stokowski and the California movie industry was born. The conductor's charismatic personality appealed to the Hollywood elite, and the Orchestra's Los Angeles concerts were a huge success. At the conclusion of the tour Stokowski returned to Hollywood for the first of his four films, The Big Broadcast of 1937, in which he conducted an unnamed orchestra in two of his Bach transcriptions. Soon followed the successful 100 Men & a Girl (1937), the story of a young singer (Deanna Durbin) who attempts to convince the great maestro Leopold Stokowski to conduct an orchestra composed of unemployed musicians. In addition to making his acting debut in the film, Stokowski performed Bach's D minor Toccata and Fugue on the piano and conducted several orchestral works (with a soundtrack recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra). Fantasia (1940) occupied Stokowski for the following two years and in 1947 his film career came to an end with Carnegie Hall, in which he conducted the New York Philharmonic in the slow movement of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

While it was the film industry that initially piqued Stokowski's interest in southern California, the conductor eventually established an important role in the area's concert life as well. Among his appearances were those with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which he conducted as early as 1936, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in 1955 the Santa Barbara Pacific Coast Music Festival, which he helped to organize.

Stokowski on Making Movies
[RealPlayer required]
From an interview broadcast on WBAI (New York)
1959

Introduction Table of Contents

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