Champion of Modern Music
From the initial days of his conducting career in Cincinnati--where he offered the United States premiere of Edward Elgar's Second Symphony--to his final years on the podium--when at age 91 he premiered Havergal Brian's Symphony no. 28--Stokowski dedicated enormous energy to the performance of the music of his own time. Audiences and orchestra boards, however, did not always share his enthusiasm and his programming ideas were often resisted. In largely conservative Philadelphia, in particular, it was not unusual for a first hearing of a new work to be greeted with a noisy demonstration from the hall. In response, Stokowski was known to admonish his audience both from the stage and in the press.
Economic realities also conspired against the conductor's progressive concert plans, and the battles fought over budgetary support in Philadelphia echoed intermittently in later years. Stokowski, however, persevered and determinedly included new compositions in his programming, not necessarily as a challenge to his audiences, but as a manifestation of his artistic credo.
Stokowski on the "Music of Our Time"
From an interview with Martin Bookspan
broadcast on 22 April 1960 on WQXR (New York City)
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